North Xtra: Perry regroups after title game

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Judging by the fact that it was Perry coach Marco Corona's third time to the City League title game during his tenure, his opponent would be no match, right?

After all, it had been upward of 15 years since Westinghouse's previous appearance.

His game plan was targeted toward Westinghouse's two best players. He'd minimize their performances and write yet another chapter in the Commodores' storied history.

Beforehand, it looked like the perfect opportunity.

"We keyed-in on [senior guard Robert] Bailey," Corona said. "We know how much of a great talent he is and we invested a bunch of our energy, defensively, on him. Maybe too much."

Led by senior Shakeem Cox's 19 points, Perry (12-13) couldn't get much else going on offense as they shot 28 percent (19 of 68) from the field.

"We tried our best to make smart shots," Cox said. "But they just weren't falling. I wish that I could have produced more on the offensive side of things myself."

Bailey, who averaged 23 points per game this year, was held to only 10 after tallying 30 in the semifinal round against Brashear.

Affani Brown, a 6-foot-9 center, was held to just seven points.

But somehow the Bulldogs (15-8) were able to claim the 61-52 decision last Saturday, in front of what was a near-home game for them at neighboring Obama Academy in East Liberty.

"The atmosphere was electric," Corona said. "I feel like we had a nice representation, ourselves, but it was a tough game for our kids to deal with, emotionally, due to some of our younger guys' inexperience."

Cox is the exception, as he played a huge part in the Commodores' football team taking home the City League title this year. On Feb. 6, he signed a national letter of intent to play defensive back for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans -- who have been a force on the Division II level in recent years.

"Due to my past experience as a leader, I've always felt it was my job to propel this team forward," he said.

He has been Perry's leading scorer all year, averaging more than 17 points per game.

"He's been a fabulous addition to our team this season." Corona said about Cox, who transferred from the old Oliver High School following its closure at the end of the previous academic year. "He's been a leader for us and he will continue to be for the duration of our time playing this season."

As the Class AAAA representative for the City League in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs, the Commodores will play on March 9 against the WPIAL runner-up, which will be determined Saturday.

New Castle, with its 24-0 mark, is ranked No. 4 in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot News. It is also the team that Corona would least like to face in the state tournament.

"We played them earlier in the year and they're tough," Corona said. "If it's them, we'll come as prepared as possible. But, I really do believe that they're one of the best teams in the state."

"It would be a tremendous upset [if we were to beat them], I'll say that much," Cox added.


First Published February 28, 2013 5:00 AM


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