North Xtra: North Allegheny's memorable run ends
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This season, the North Allegheny High School boys basketball team won 22 games, the second most in school history according to Tigers coach Dave DeGregorio, and qualified for the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
Both of those accomplishments pleased senior point guard R.J. Colabrese, but it did not make the team's final two losses any easier to deal with.
"We competed well throughout the season, and I'm happy with that," Colabrese said. "I'm not happy with losing in the WPIAL semis and PIAA quarterfinals."
The Tigers fell to Hampton, 66-62, in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals Feb. 27 and then fell to New Castle, 57-46, in the PIAA quarterfinals March 13. They finished with a 22-5 overall record, went 11-3 in section play, finishing second to powerhouse New Castle.
Hampton (twice) and New Castle (three times) are the only two teams to beat the Tigers this season. The Hurricanes beat the Tigers by 45 and 16 points in the regular season, but North Allegheny led New Castle at halftime last week.
That didn't help lessen the sadness in the locker room afterward.
"They expected to win," DeGregorio said. "That's the type of kids we have. They've been a successful group and expected to win. There's a lot of disappointment and they are sad to see it end."
The Tigers had six seniors, and five of them -- Colabrese, Sean Hennigan, Adam Haus, Luke Soyster and James Meeker -- were on the varsity roster each of the past three seasons when the Tigers won 58 games and made it to at least the WPIAL quarterfinals each year.
Colabrese said it is a tight-knit group.
"We all just care a tremendous amount about each other," Colabrese said. "We had each other's backs and if one guy was having a bad day, he knew the rest would pick him up."
Which made North Allegheny so tough to play against. Along with the seniors, juniors Joe Mancini, David Haus (Adam's brother) and Elijah Zeise all could score in double figures and most could shoot the basketball.
"It was always nice," Colabrese said. "I knew it was my job to create shots for other players. I can shoot, too, but the guys I'm passing to are outstanding shooters."
North Allegheny finished second to New Castle in WPIAL Class AAAA in scoring at 70.4 points per game and eclipsed the 80-point mark seven times this season.
With Mancini, David Haus and Zeise expected to return, along with a deep group of underclassmen, the offense should still be solid next season.
But DeGregorio knows the team will struggle to replace much of what his senior class provided this season.
"They were really, really good leaders," DeGregorio said. "Leadership is something that's important at every level. Also, they were tough kids. They were also good teammates who worked hard. Their effort was phenomenal."
First Published March 21, 2013 12:00 am