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Bishop Guilfoyle downs the defending state champs in a heart-pounding game decided at the buzzer.

March 7, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
Note: This article originally appeared in the Mirror on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1997.

Marauders square off With Homer-Center Saturday For District 6, Class A title.

By Neil Rudel

Associate Sports Editor

TYRONE — Ryan Lestochi didn’t participate in Bishop Guilfoyle’s Senior Night a couple of weeks ago because of an injury.

He saved his curtain call for Tuesday night.

Lestochi drove through the entire Juniata Valley defense and laid in the game-winning shot at the buzzer, lifting the Marauders to a thrilling 64-63 victory over the defending District 6 and PIAA, Class A champions.

The win advances the Marauders to Saturday’s 6-A final against Homer-Center, which punched its ticket by beating Bishop Carroll, 67-63.

While the dazed Green Hornets were hoping his shot would be waved off, Lestochi was at the bottom of a flesh pile following one of the better finishes in recent BG history.

“This isn’t good for a 45-year-old man,’’ Marauder coach Dave Benton said.

With :06 left, Valley’s Andy Simpson drilled a 3-pointer from 27 feet to give Valley a 63-62 lead. Four seconds remained when BG called timeout.

“Maybe our celebration started too soon,’’ Valley coach Mike Fields said. “Our guys went out and stood when they should have been alert.’’

Needing to go the length of the court, the Marauders aligned in a box up the floor. Steve Miksich was the trigger. Lestochi, cutting hard to the ball across midcourt opposite Josh Baker, made a leaping catch of the inbounds, turned and found a welcome lane all the way to the hoop.

“I was real surprised it was that open,’’ he said.

“We didn’t react to that drive at all,’’ Fields said.

“Dave Dietzel set a great screen,’’ Benton said. “They had 10 fouls and a one-point lead. You can get it to the basket maybe a little easier than under normal circumstances.’’

Lestochi’s heroics punctuated his game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting and erased Juniata Valley’s gallant comeback. The Hornets were down as much as 13 (55-42) with 5:10 left and by nine (59-50) with 2:50 left.

“My concern was how many big runs they were going to get,’’ Benton said of the high-scoring Hornets. “The only real big run they had was the one toward the end of the game.’’

Simpson’s 15-footer off the dribble gave Valley a 27-24 halftime lead before BG, on consecutive 3-pointers by Dietzel and Lestochi, Baker’s 18-footer and Mike Gartmann’s banked hook shot, capped a 23-9 third quarter to go up 47-36.

Lestochi made a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter to pump BG up by 13 before the Hornets came back.

Tom Anders hit twice. Tye Levy, whose 3-pointer beat Bellwood for the Juniata Valley League title, hit two treys, the second pulling Valley within 59-53. Justin Price’s steal turned into two free throws and Simpson added a pair, but Lestochi coolly finished a 35-second delay with a slicing layup for a 61-57 lead with 56 seconds left.

That’s when Simpson, who missed his first seven shots of the second half, nailed a 3 and free-throw misses by Lestochi and Baker left BG’s door hanging open at 62-60 with 37 seconds left.

Simpson tried a runner and missed, but Price, who scored eight off the bench, created a jump ball and an inbounds play that led to Simpson’s bomb that Valley thought won the game.

It was Lestochi’s second game back since a six-game absence.

“Ryan gives you another ball handler plus he can move to the off guard,’’ Benton said. “When he was out, we were missing two elements to the puzzle.’’

Game notes: Simpson’s 15 led the 22-5 Hornets, who also got 13 from Anders and 12 from Levy ... Brad Koehle (11) and Baker (10) added double figures for BG (14-11) ... Benton thought BG gained control when it shut Valley off of the glass. The Hornets had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half ... BG hit a blistering 24 of 40, Valley 23 of 60 ... Rebounds were even at 23 ... Tipoff against Homer-Center is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Altoona Fieldhouse ... Valley get Carroll in Friday’s consolation at Hollidaysburg (7:30 tip).

BISHOP GUILFOYLE (64): Lestochi 7 4-5 21, Baker 3 3-4 10, Ratzesberger 3 2-2 9, Koehle 5 1-2 11, Miksich 2 0-0 4, McConnell 0 0-0 0, Pascoquin 1 0-0 2, Dietzel 2 0-0 5, Gartmann 1 0-0 2. Totals — 24 10-13 64.

JUNIATA VALLEY (63): Levy 4 0-0 12, Broadbent 2 0-1 4, Showalter 1 0-0 2, Anders 5 1-1 13, Simpson 5 3-4 15, Isett 2 0-0 6, Fouse 1 0-0 3, Price 3 2-2 8, Lightner 0 0-0 0. Totals — 23 6-8 63.


Bishop Guilfoyle 11 13 23 17 — 64

Juniata Valley 11 16 9 27 — 63

3-point goals: Bishop Guilfoyle 6 (Lestochi 3, Baker, Ratzesberger, Dietzel); Juniata Valley 11 (Levy 4, Anders 2, Simpson 2, Isett 2, Fouse). Technicals: None. Officials: Jim Lashinsky, Ray Danel, Dennis Gramling.

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