McKeesport Locks Up Share Of Section 2 Title By Topping Gateway

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The McKeesport Tigers earned a share of the Section 2-AAAA title on Friday night with a 62-52 road win over the Gateway Gators in Monroeville. The Plum Mustangs, who were tied with the Tigers to enter the night, defeated Franklin Regional to also capture a share of the section crown.

Gateway opened the game with a methodical half-court offense and took a 10-4 lead on back-to-back three pointers by Clayton Nola and Frank Bozicevic.  The Tigers stayed close with the Gators and trailed 18-16 midway through the second period before going on a 14-3 run before halftime.  Senior Khalil Perdue and junior Jordan Payne, McKeesport’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, each scored eight points in the first half to give the Tigers a 30-21 lead.  Just before intermission, Nola buried another three-pointer to bring the score to 30-24, McKeesport.

The second half started similarly to the first half with Gateway utilizing its deliberate half-court offense to take a 31-30 lead.  Nola continued his hot shooting and finished with 12 points with all four of his field goals coming from beyond the arc.  With additional help from John Paul Kromka who totaled seven points, scoring five in the second half, the Gators and Tigers were tied at 35-35 late in the third quarter.

McKeesport was able to fluster the Gators with its fast-paced transition game in the fourth quarter and Perdue helped the Tigers literally run away with the section title.  Perdue totaled a game-high 22 points and was pivotal with numerous rebounds and steals to start and finish McKeesport’s fast break. For his efforts, Perdue was named the Player of the Game by the Quad-A Network.

Along with Perdue, Payne poured in three 3-pointers and 16 points, and senior Demetrius Diggs tallied 12 points and terrorized the Gators with his quick hands for several steals. Gateway couldn’t keep pace with the high-octane Tigers in the final stanza and ultimately fell to McKeesport, 62-52.

McKeesport improves to 14-5 overall and 10-2 in Section 2-AAAA.  Gateway falls to 12-9 overall and finishes section play with an 8-4 record.  Both teams are headed to the playoffs and will await the WPIAL playoff pairings on Tuesday night.  In the meantime, Gateway closes out its regular season schedule with a non-section game on Monday night at North Hills.  McKeesport rounds out its regular season schedule with a non-section affair at Bethel Park on Monday.