Boys Class A Semifinals: Clairton stuns Lincoln Park
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Trailing by 11 points at the start of the fourth quarter against No. 1 seed Lincoln Park, Clairton could have thrown in the towel.
But losing is not in the Bears' DNA.
Led by a starting five of players who all were part of Clairton's four consecutive PIAA titles and 63-game winning streak on the football field, the No. 5 Bears (16-6) rallied for a 71-70 victory against the No. 1 Leopards (19-6) in a WPIAL Class A semifinal Tuesday at Keystone Oaks.
"These guys are used to playing in big games," first-year Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. "Not so much in basketball, but that football experience and the pressure of winning 63 games in a row, getting the other team's best shot every week. So in pressure situations, it doesn't bother them.
"They always tell me, 'We got this coach. We got this.' And so far, they've answered the bell."
The two teams were within five points of each other the entire game until Lincoln Park went on a 10-0 run to close the third quarter.
But the Bears didn't panic.
"We were just saying, 'Never quit,' " said Clairton senior Tyler Boyd, who finished with a team-high 20 points. "We were down by 11, but we fought hard and made adjustments and stayed at it."
Still trailing, 67-59, with 3:32 left, the Bears went on a 10-1 run to take the lead with 1:03 left.
Elijah Minnie scored on a lob pass to give the Leopards the lead back with 30 seconds remaining, but that's when longtime Clairton teammates and Pitt football recruits Terrish Webb and Boyd connected for the winning basket.
In the open floor, Webb found a cutting Boyd near the basket for a layup with 21 seconds left.
Minnie then had a chance to win the game for Lincoln Park, but his 30-footer hit off the back rim.
"These guys have been playing together and have been a tight group for long before I got here," Geletko said. "They play for each other and hate to lose."
Minnie finished with 24 points and Maverick Rowan had 16 for Lincoln Park.
Clairton's third Pitt football recruit, Titus Howard, had 19 points, Bryon Clifford finished with 14 and Webb added 10.
The No. 2 Vincentian Royals (24-1) went on a 15-2 run over the final 3:20 of the first half to take a 15-point lead into the break en route to a 82-69 victory against the No. 3 North Catholic Trojans (16-6) at North Hills.
Vincentian had three players score in double figures, led by Ryan Wolf's 29 points.
It was the 19th time this season the Royals scored 80 points or more, including three playoff victories.
"The way we played, everyone is a shooter," Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. "Everybody is a scorer. That's how we practice. We throw the ball to whoever is open, and whoever has the good shot takes it."
North Catholic, which lost to Vincentian for the third time this season, was led by Danny Savulchak's 33 points.
Vincentian will play Clairton in the WPIAL Class A championship at 7 p.m. Friday at A.J. Palumbo Center.
First Published February 27, 2013 12:13 am