Wise finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Barnes added 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Prexies (25-3), who play WPIAL champion North Catholic (27-2) in Wednesday’s semifinal.
Nick Bryant led Wash High with 17 points, while Troy Wilson added 15 points and six rebounds. Robert Anderson chipped in 12 points for Washington, which never trailed after tying the game 15-15 early in the second quarter.
Beaver Falls (21-6) got 20 points and 12 rebounds from Todd Thomas but the Tigers were dominated inside despite a decided size advantage. Kevin Nesmith, a 6-7 center, did not score, while 6-6 B.J. McBryde scored two points.
- While driving away from North Allegheny High School, I began thinking about a post-game interview with Washington coach Ron Faust following the Prexies' loss to South Fayette in the WPIAL quarterfinals. Faust was pleased with how hard his team played that day and said he thought the Prexies would be just fine in the state tournament. Correct again Coach.
- Washington has dominated Quaker Valley and Beaver Falls in successive games. The Quakers and Tigers were possible the two most hyped teams coming into the season.
- The Prexies are winning because everyone is finding ways to make key contributions. Against Beaver Falls, I thought Zach Barnes was the player of the game, followed closely by Mark Wise. The way those two controlled the inside was why the margin of victory was so large.
- Beaver Falls' senior Todd Thomas is one seriously gifted athlete. I didn't really like the way he jawed at the officials when he came out of the game late in the fourth quarter. It wasn't the refs fault. It was Beaver Falls' inability to rebound that ultimately doomed its season.
- Then again, it shouldn't be a surprise Thomas mouthed off. His coaches did not let the officials alone and it eventually led to a technical foul. Again, I go back to rebounding.
- Finally, a couple other local teams (South Fayette and Monessen) should be taking notes. The Lions are Greyhounds are as talented as Wash High. The Prexies' mental toughness is what has Washington in the Western Final for the first time since 1990.