Clairton takes down Monessen in battle of 3-A unbeatens
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Monessen isn't one of your run-of-the-mill, fly-by-night basketball programs.
Actually, it wouldn't be that far-fetched to call Monessen one of the best when you consider it won 51 games over the past two years in Class AA, advanced to the WPIAL title game twice and won one of them, along with having a coach who has won more than 500 games over the past three decades.
And last night in a Section 3-A showdown of unbeatens, Clairton made Monessen play a way that Joe Salvino has rarely seen — soft.
Those were Salvino's words following a thorough 56-38 beating by Clairton (7-3, 5-0) at an overflowing Bears Den as the hosts took over sole possession of first place while handing Monessen (5-9, 4-1) its first section loss since Jan. 29, 2010 — a span of 32 games.
“We came in here and saw this and what was going on and we just played soft; let's call a spade a spade,” Salvino said. “If we are going to be a good team, you have to meet a challenge. We were challenged, and we didn't meet it.”
Clairton had a lot to do with that.
The Bears, still playing without star Tyler Boyd, raced to a 33-23 halftime lead, then put the clamps on the Greyhounds. Monessen was limited to 15 points on 5-of-25 shooting from the floor over the final two quarters, giving Clairton the win in the schools' first meeting in five years.
“This is a very tough place to play,” Clairton rookie coach Matt Geletko said. “You are in for it when you come here to play. We have passionate fans, and they support their Bears. I don't know if this was a statement or not. We have a lot of room to improve, but maybe I am nitpicking a little bit.”
Geletko was indeed nitpicking.
Bryon Clifford scored a game-high 15 points, while Titus Howard, who played just his second game of the season, added 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Terrish Webb added eight points and grabbed seven of Clairton's 60 rebounds.
Monessen got 11 points from Javon Brown, 10 points and 10 rebounds from Clintell Gillespie and 10 rebounds from Justice Rawlins.
“Clairton outhustled us and outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” Salvino said.
“We allowed one person control the whole game in the first half. He controlled the tempo, he controlled every part of the game.”
Salvino was talking about Clifford, the 5-foot-9 senior point guard.
Clifford scored 11 first-half points but did much more than that, distributing the ball and controlling the fast break to set up his teammates with some easy baskets.
“This was a big game for us,” Clifford said.
“I just love competition. Being that this was a rivalry game, I wanted it real bad, and I couldn't let my team down. I felt like I had to be the floor general and take over.”
Clairton jumped out to a 9-2 lead midway through the first quarter, but seven turnovers allowed Monessen back in the game despite shooting only 4 of 18 from the floor in the opening quarter.
The Bears opened up the second quarter on a 14-3 run as Clifford scored five, Webb four and Howard hit a big 3-pointer to give Clairton a 25-16 lead.
A 12-5 run to open the second half all but sealed the game for the Bears as they opened up a 45-28 lead late in the third quarter and cruised to the win.
“Hopefully we are getting all our players back and we can get things dialed in by February,” Geletko said. “This will give us a lot of confidence and go a long way for us.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.