by Smokin’ Jim Frazier
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Allderdice coach Andre McDonald and his top assistant, Jason Rivers, came up with a defense they named “Hawk-D,” while coaching summer league teams. Not many teams have shown more hustle than Allderdice, a program that prides itself on work ethic, desire and suffocating defense. However, Gateway used some late game defensive plays to hold on for a 46-43 victory over Allderdice March 13, in front of a near capacity crowd at Peabody High School in East Liberty.
|GREAT SCOTT— Gateway’s super sophomore Tyler Scott is fouled by Eric Maninger of Allderdice. Scott scored 15 points and hit two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
“All year we were taking shots—we don’t play hard, we don’t play defense, we don’t do this or don’t do that. But, hey, where were all these people Saturday afternoon?” asked Gateway coach Mitch Adams. “I get into my players faces because I want the kids to have my intensity.”
The Dragons entered the game with four starters averaging in double figures: point guard Branden Johnson (10 ppg), Brandon McLester (14.5 ppg), Ishmael Swain (16.3 ppg) and Ben Mickens (13 ppg). But, it was 6-2 sophomore Justin “Happy” Dobbs that led Allderdice to a 10-2 lead by nailing three 3-pointers from deep in the right corner. The Dragons ended the first quarter leading 13-8.
|CROWD PLEASER—High flying 6-5 sophomore Ben Mickens of Allderdice slams two in front of Gateway’s Barnett Harris.
Gateway’s super sophomore Tyler Scott began to take over in the second quarter. Scott, a talented 6-6 sophomore point guard, scored 15 points. He electrified the crowd and broke the Dragons “Hawk D” defense with his “Magic Johnson” no look pass to senior reserve Matt Miles, who scored the easiest two points of his career. The Gators held a 31-24 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the 2010 City League champs fought their way back into the game. With Allderdice trailing only 34-33, high flying 6-5 sophomore Ben Mickens went to the hoop and came away with an acrobatic dunk over 6-10 division I prospect Barnett Harris that caused Gateway to call a timeout and fans to erupt with boisterous chants of “Hawk D,” “Hawk D,” “Hawk D.”
Allderdice came out of the timeout holding onto a 35-34 lead but sophomore Mickens, a Pittsburgh Central Catholic transfer who is familiar to Gateway fans from a pair of battles in Section 2 last season, knew the game was far from over.
“We knew that this would be a hard fought game,” said Mickens. “It was a close game. Not many teams can hold Gateway to 46 points”
“That was just like a heavyweight fight where two guys got in the middle of the ring and slugged it out. It’s the way old basketball was played. They had no fear of us, and we had no fear of them, said Adams. “We knew that Allderdice was a solid team. We played them over the summer and got a good look at their “Hawk D” defense.”
With the Gators carrying as many as five Division I prospects on their roster, the sky is truly the limit for this bunch.
The kind of talent in general, let alone on one team, hasn’t been seen in these parts too often, if ever, in recent years. Schenley’s run with DeJuan and Greg Blair, D. J. Kennedy, Deandre Kane and Jamaal Bryant a couple years back was the rare exception.
In his fifth year as head coach, Adams has slowly turned around the basketball program at a school that has a well-earned reputation as a football powerhouse, having dominated Class AAAA for most of the past several decades.
Gateway will play District 6 champion Hollidaysburg March 17. Looking even further down the road, Gateway would earn a rematch with Mt. Lebanon in the state quarterfinals March 20.
“This team is young, but the game isn’t too big for them,” said assistant coach Marvin Wright. “We have the talent to win the whole thing.”
Catapulted by its lopsided City League championship victory over Oliver, the Dragons won the City championship for the first time since 1988, a team led by Jason White and Bill Herndon.
Herndon went on to play for John Calipari at UMass. Coach Calipari is now coaching the University of Kentucky. With a sophomore class that features Mickens, Dobbs, Barnett, and Scott, look for Calipari to return to Pittsburgh to get some of the country’s top basketball recruits.
A wet weekend caused flooding problems in the area and had the fans at Peabody High School’s gymnasium looking to the skies as the Chartiers Valley Lady Colts were raining 3s. The sharp shooting Colts led 55-18 over Perry behind 11 first half 3-point baskets and cruised to a 65-22 victory over the City champs in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA.
Perry got off to a slow start, because many of their star players took the SAT exams before the game. The contest was delayed while 6-2 center Maritta Gillcrease changed into her uniform.
With Perry holding a decided size advantage, the Colts strategy of shooting from the outside paid off for them. Freshman Alex Coyne scored all of her game-high 15 points in the first half on five 3-pointers.
Perry held Chartiers Valley to only 10 second half points, but it was too little too late.
“The team won the City but was disappointed in their performance. They really wanted to come out today and play well. I’m very proud of them. They played good defense in the second half and played well all season,” said athletic director Dana Knapp.
Maritta Gillcrease who did well on her SAT exam was noticeably disappointed after the game.
“I can’t believe what just happened,” said Gillcrease. “But I’ll be back. I’ll be back.”
With Gillcrease and her twin sister Marissa coming back next year, the Perry Lady Commodores have a good chance of returning to the state playoffs in 2011.