McKeesport stuns No. 2 Gateway
Maybe it's the rivalry or just the style of play, but playing Gateway seems to bring out the best in the McKeesport boys basketball team.
And Tuesday, the Tigers sent a message to the rest of the WPIAL that they may be a team to be reckoned with when the playoffs roll around.
Junior forward Khalil Perdue came off the bench to score 12 points, none bigger than the 3-foot jumper he hit with 4.8 seconds remaining in regulation that gave McKeesport a stunning 42-40 victory over Trib Total Media Class AAAA No. 2 Gateway.
“I just thought that I got to do it for my family, for my team,” Perdue said. “It was just instinct. I had to get the ball in the basket.”
Perdue's game-winning shot was the culmination of an outstanding fourth quarter by McKeesport defense in which it held Gateway to only two points on 1 of 7 shooting from the floor and forced three key turnovers. The Tigers trailed, 38-33, entering the final quarter and initially tied it when Carlitto Acie drilled a 3-pointer with 4:52 remaining and Perdue knocked down a putback with 2:32 left.
After Deon Cottrell-Baker put Gateway ahead, 40-38, with the team's only fourth-quarter points with 1:55 left, Perdue, who also had seven rebounds, scored to tie it at 40 with 1:40 remaining.
Gateway (9-2, 6-1) called timeout and went into a delay offense, but when McKeesport applied ample pressure, the team again called time to regroup with 45.1 seconds to play. That turned out to be disastrous as another Tigers sub, Javon Tyson, deflected a Gators pass to Acie, who brought it up for the team's final offensive possession.
McKeesport called a pair of timeouts, one with 19.1 seconds remaining and the other after Acie was fouled with 11.3 seconds left to come up with a play. After the ball was rotated around, the pass went to Perdue in the low post just outside the right side of the paint. He quickly put it up and in to give the Tigers the lead.
McKeesport's bench outscored Gateway's, 14-1.
“That's outstanding because we talk about how it's going to take everybody to win,” McKeesport coach Corey Gadson said. “Guys who may be disappointed they don't play, there's going to be a night where you've got to step up and play.”
Gateway had one last opportunity to win the game but D.J. Boyce, who scored a game-high 13, hit the rim with a 30-foot attempt and McKeesport fans ran onto the floor at midcourt to celebrate.
“This was just wonderful,” Perdue said. “It gave us a win for our team and this feels great.”
Perdue didn't begin to make an impact until late in the second quarter when he hit baskets on consecutive possessions to help the Tigers take a 23-19 lead, their largest advantage of the game. While he did the scoring, Tyson came off the bench and chipped in five much-needed rebounds as the Gators won the battle of the boards, 36-28.
“They kicked our butts on the offensive boards and we thought that we'd zone it and pack it and see if we could hold them to one shot,” Gadson said. “It's harder to rebound in a zone, but I think we did better than we did when we were in man and we just tried to make it methodical and play our game.”
With the win McKeesport (10-3, 6-1) is tied with Gateway for first place in Section 2 at the midpoint, but will have a tough test Friday when it plays at Fox Chapel (10-4, 5-2), the only team to beat the Tigers in section play this season. The Foxes could have made it a three-way tie at the top, but dropped a 67-62 decision Tuesday at Central Catholic.
“It's the middle of the season,” Gadson said. “I told them to just come into work (Wednesday) and get ready to go to Fox Chapel on Friday.”