On the football field this fall, Delvon Randall and his Gateway teammates played an up-tempo style that utilized their wealth of exceptional athletes.
That philosophy is working on the basketball court, too.
Randall scored 24 points and Class AAAA No. 3 Gateway used a strong transition game in a 56-53 win Friday night at Plum. The game offered an early showdown between teams that are expected to contend for the Section 2 title.
Gateway (5-1, 3-0), the section runner-up a season ago, stopped Plum (5-1, 2-1) from starting 6-0 for the first time since 2006-07.
Gateway never trailed, but Plum kept it close. The score was tied once late in the first half, but a Gateway basket put the Gators ahead for good.
Plum had a chance to tie the score in the closing seconds. Ethan Winesburgh's tip-in with 15 seconds left cut the Gateway lead to 56-53. Gateway threw the ball away on the inbounds pass, giving Plum possession. Winesburgh, however, misfired on a jump shot just before time expired.
"It's a big win," Gateway coach Mitch Adams said. "I told them you have to keep home serve, but you still want to win on the road. When you can steal one on the road, that's a big win."
Daylon Harris added 13 points -- including the first seven of the game -- for the Gators and Tom Kromka had 12. James Edwards paced Plum with 18 and Nick Stotler chipped in 14.
Plum held Gateway to its lowest point total this season. The Gators started the game averaging 81.2 points per game. Playing a Plum team that has one of the top scoring defenses in the WPIAL, the Gators didn't score as much as they would like, but they did when they needed to courtesy of points on fast breaks and on second-chance opportunities.
"I don't know how much of the transition game was more of our breakdowns," Plum coach Ron Richards said. "We let them get behind us and we just can't let that happen. We gave them probably 20 points tonight just on run-outs. They just got somebody behind us and threw over the top. We're not good enough to overcome that.
"They had a rough time scoring on us in any type of half-court [offense]. We just gave them too many easy buckets between stick-back rebounds, run-out layups and free throws."
Nobody shined brighter in those situations than Randall, a Temple football recruit. He finished well and did an excellent job on the offensive boards. He scored 16 of his points in the second half, including 11 in the third quarter.
"We practice on [the transition offense] a lot," Randall said. "We all just work together."
Defensively, Gateway is typically a man-to-man team, but after getting into first-half foul trouble-- three starters had three fouls by the half -- the Gators played a lot of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone. One of the focuses was limiting Plum standout Austin Dedert, a 6-foot-6 forward and one of the top post players in Class AAAA. The Gators held Dedert to just two field goals and eight points. Both teams spent a lot of time at the free-throw line. Plum was 17 for 27 and Gateway was 13 for 24.