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Gateway defends its AAAA basketball crown

Gateway coach Mitch Adams cracked that his Gators got their No. 11 seed in the WPIAL basketball tournament the old-fashioned way.

They earned it.

The Gators defended their WPIAL Class AAAA title the same way. Gateway defeated Central Catholic, 49-39, Saturday night at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center to become the first Quad-A team to win back-to-back titles since New Castle won three consecutive from 1997-99.

"We had a lot of people doubting us because we lost some games this season," Gateway senior Tyler Scott said. "It means a lot."

Central (15-11) was trying to win its second WPIAL title in school history — it won its first in 2008 — after entering the tourney as the No. 12 seed and upsetting top-seeded Shaler in the semifinals.

The Vikings, however, had no answer for Scott. The 6-foot-6 guard dazzled early with his passing and late with his shooting touch and finished with 13 points and six assists, all in the first quarter. When he wasn't zipping passes to 6-5 sophomore forward Tom Kromka (10 points) for layups, Scott was lobbing them to 6-10 senior center Barnett Harris (14 points, 12 rebounds) for a pair of thunderous two-handed dunks.

"I wasn't making many in warm-ups so I decided to go to the hole and get my teammates the ball," Scott said. "I let the game come to me."

The Gators (20-6) used a 7-0 run to start the second quarter and stretched a 12-11 first-quarter lead to a 28-14 halftime edge. Central continued launching 3-pointers but missed all six attempts from beyond the arc in the second quarter. The Vikings shot 15 of 46 from the field, including 3 of 21 from 3-point range, and made only 6 of 14 free throws.

Scott put on a second-half show, starting with a 3-pointer, then adding a tip-in to increase Gateway's lead to 35-14 before soaring high for a one-handed dunk and a 21-point lead with 1:18 left in the third quarter.

"The dunk," Adams said, "woke some people up."

Central used full-court pressure to respond with a frantic fourth-quarter rally, cutting it to 43-33 on Lincoln Davis' layup with 3:54 remaining. Neither team scored again until Davis got a steal and scored to make it 43-35 with 1:19 left. Claude Scott, a 6-6 senior center, led Central with nine points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

Gateway junior guard D.J. Boyce played stifling defense on Davis, Central's leading scorer at 20.3 points per game. Davis scored a season-low eight points before fouling out in the final minute, marking the first time this season he did not score in double figures.

The high-flying 6-2 senior guard made 2 of 11 shots from the field, missing all five 3-point attempts, and the Gateway defense collapsed on Davis when he drove the lane. "They play very physical, and they usually play very physical on the best guy," Central coach Chuck Crummie said. "So we knew that coming in, but it makes it very easy to play physical on one guy when you have a 6-10 guy in the background."

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