Like many WPIAL coaches, Hampton's Joe Lafko is fully aware of what fuels North Allegheny's trigger-happy, dribble-drive offense.
"NA shoots the ball well from 3," said Lafko. "There's no secret to that."
But, as has been the case for every team that has taken on the Tigers this season, knowing it and stopping it are two different things.
No. 3-ranked North Allegheny made 12 3-pointers in the first 18 minutes to jump to a big lead, then survived a late rally to defeat No. 2 Hampton, 74-65, Tuesday night in a showdown of undefeated teams from Class AAAA Section 4.
North Allegheny (11-0, 5-0) didn't make a high-percentage of its 3-point shots -- it finished 13 for 38 (34 percent) -- but the perimeter shots the Tigers made were timely and enough to vault them to a 21-point lead in the third quarter.
The Tigers blitzed Hampton (10-1, 4-1) with four 3-pointers in the first quarter and five in the second en route to a 37-27 halftime lead, then added three more in the opening two minutes of the third quarter.
Sean Hennigan drained six of those first 12 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 23 points. Luke Soyster had three 3-pointers among his 11 points, and Adam Haus had two 3-pointers on his way to 10 points.
Before the game, Hennigan said he questioned how well the Tigers would be able to shoot against Hampton, which sports a much taller lineup led by 6-foot-6 Ryan Luther and 6-5 Collin Luther.
"I wasn't exactly sure how we would do because we know they have a lot of length," said Hennigan.
The Luther twins nearly led Hampton to what would have been an improbable comeback win. Trailing, 67-52, with four minutes left, Hampton went on a 10-0 run -- behind six points by Ryan Luther and four by Collin Luther -- to pull within 67-62 with 1:53 left. North Allegheny, however, was outstanding from the free-throw line down the stretch, making seven of nine.
Ryan Luther finished with a game-high 30 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. David Huber scored 13 and Joey Lafko had 10.
"I think we finally woke up at the end and started to play like we're capable of playing," said Joe Lafko. "We had just dug ourselves too big of a hole."
Haus dug that hole with a one-man, 8-0 run just before the end of the first quarter to put North Allegheny in front, 18-12. Hampton knotted the score, 21-21, but North Allegheny pulled away again when Hennigan and Soyster hit 3-pointers in final minute of the half.
"It's what we do," North Allegheny coach Dave DeGregorio said of the 3-point barrage. "When it was all said and done, we didn't make a big percentage of them, but we made some important ones."
There will be no down time for North Allegheny, which will play host to No. 1 New Castle (11-0, 5-0) Friday night with the section lead on the line.