Vincentian's speed, trap prevail
The Vincentian boys basketball team knows how to play one way: fast.
Clairton fell into Vincentian's trap in the WPIAL Class A semifinal Tuesday night at West Allegheny.
Vincentian (23-1) advanced to the Class A final against Lincoln Park by defeating Clairton, 69-54. The Class A championship game is set for Friday at A.J. Palumbo Center.
The Royals used a half-court and full-court trap against speedy Clairton (10-11) and created 22 turnovers, 14 in the first half — as they took a 37-21 halftime lead.
John Bray, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, was too much for Clairton to handle. He scored a game-high 31 points, 17 in the first half. He iced the game by going 6 for 6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
"That's how we play," Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. "The trap is the only way I know how to coach. If they were so convinced they could beat it, they would have beaten us. I compliment them for coming back. We had no answer for (Desimon) Green. He's an amazing athlete.
"The game went the way we thought it would, and Johnny hit a couple big shots in the first half. It was our night to hit a couple tough shots."
Green (23 points and nine rebounds) and Parrish Middlebrook (13 points) came off the bench to spark Clairton. Green scored 12 points in the third quarter as Clairton trimmed the lead to 52-41.
Clairton coach Theron Pitts admitted that Vincentian's trap was the difference.
"They did a great job preparing for our speed," Pitts said. "We did what they wanted us to do — dribble into the traps and throw the ball away. At times, some of our guys didn't want the ball."
Pitts said he also was impressed with Bray's game.
"I saw a lot of film on him, and we did know that he was their best player," Pitts said. "He's solid and better than the scouting report indicated. He's going to play somewhere in college."
Clairton did pull to within 56-47 with 5:27 left, but a 3-pointer by Tony DiNardo ended the threat. Vincentian then hit 10 consecutive free throws to put the game out of reach.
Chris Koryak had 13 points for the Royals and Adam Dian had 11, all in the first half.
Bray said the game plan was simple: Do what we usually do, and run up and down the court.
"We like the transition game," Bray said. "That's how we play, and we feel we're in better condition that anyone we play. We run them up and down and see if they can last with us.
"We used Clairton's cockiness to our advantage as a little motivation. Other schools told us the trap would work."
WPIAL Basketball Semi-finals at West Allegheny High School
The Mt. Lebanon girls basketball team defeats Oakland Catholic, 64-43 in the WPIAL AAAA semifinals and Vincentian Academy beats back Clairton, 69-54, in the Class A semifinals.