Gateway opens second half of section slate at Penn Hills
The Gateway varsity girls basketball team begins the second half of its Section 2-AAAA schedule Friday against Penn Hills, and it will be the first time the Gators play in the gym at the brand new Penn Hills High School.
Head coach Cornelius Nesbit said that it will be an interesting change of scenery from the previous gym at the old high school, but the mission of the team remains the same.
“The girls are so focused on the next game,” Nesbit said. “I don't think it really matters for them that it is a new gym.”
Gateway, 5-0 in section play before Tuesday's matchup at McKeesport, began its section schedule in December with a 57-36 triumph over Penn Hills.
The win against the Indians came just three days after a tough season-opening loss to Penn-Trafford.
It also kick-started a five-game winning streak that was halted in a close 50-48 loss to Altoona in the championship game of the Altoona Tournament on Dec. 28.
Gateway outscored its first five section opponents, 274-189, and the Gators defense is holding all opponents to an average of 39.8 points per game.
The Gators received a challenge from WPIAL Class AA power Bishop Canevin on Saturday at the Gateway Basketball Classic at the Furrie Sports Complex.
Gateway and Bishop Canevin capped the five-game schedule and played right down to the wire before the Gators pulled out a 51-50 victory.
The Crusaders, locked in another battle with Section 4-AA foe Seton-LaSalle, lost for the first time in 12 games.
It didn't look good for Gateway in the first half, as Bishop Canevin, which has held opponents to about 27 points per game, built a 7-3 lead after the first quarter and was ahead 23-12 at break.
“They are very good at executing their set plays, and they kind of burned us in the first half with their execution,” Nesbit said.
“They have a number of versatile players. It made it a tough matchup for us.”
Gateway responded after halftime, and a 23-10 third quarter sparked the Gators and gave them the lead.
Nesbit said he credited the strong play of the Bishop Canevin players to head coach Tim Joyce.
“When I got into coaching at South Fayette, Joyce was at Carlynton when they were winning champ- ionships,” Nesbit said. “He was one we kind of looked up to as young coaches.He had a program that we wanted ours to be like. Canevin is a small school with big-school talent.”
Gateway junior Katey Wilson scored a game-high 20 points, and nine of the points came on a trio of 3-pointers.
Senior Chelsea Richardson added 17 points, and she was 9 of 13 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Gators were 16 of 23 from the foul line.
Fellow senior Maria Taylor was held to three points, but she was big on the boards with nine rebounds.
Sophomore London Wade contributed four assists, while Gateway recorded 10 assists overall on its 15 field goals.
Gateway was able to overcome 22 turnovers against Bishop Canevin.
Bishop Canevin senior Erin Waskowiak, a Du- quesne recruit who averaged 20.7 points per game last season, was limited to 14 points against the Gators.
“(The win) reassures the girls that they have become one of the better teams in the WPIAL,” Nesbit said. “Canevin should be challenging for WPIAL and PIAA titles this year. It gives us the confidence to know that when the chips are down, we have enough talent in the locker room to overcome things.”
Nesbit said the day overall was a success. Kennedy Catholic, a small-school power from District 10, upended Upper St. Clair, 51-40, while Monessen beat Westinghouse, 42-25.
Seton-LaSalle defeated District 6 Quad-A Hollidays burg, 60-51, while Shaler routed Deer Lakes, 46-28.
Deer Lakes, another Class AA team, came into its game 11-0, while Shaler improved to 5-8 overall.
“I enjoyed it, and I'm sure a lot of the fans enjoyed it,” Nesbit said.
“There were a lot of great teams and great players there. It was fun and exciting to watch, especially with the matchups against teams that don't normally play each other. There's not a lot of scouting, so you get to watch some great coaching take place as adjustments are made.”
The Power of Purple
Gateway beat Keystone Oaks, 48-34, on Friday, and while the game progressed, efforts to raise money for pancreatic cancer research was in full effect.
The Purple Game event during the Gators' varsity doubleheader, which also included the Gateway and Pittsburgh Central Catholic boys teams, put the focus on pancreatic cancer and how it affects so many people.
“It turned out even better than we expected,” Nesbit said. “There was purple everywhere. The student section was great. It was a fantastic event and great for the cause that is close to many peoples' hearts at Gateway.”
Gateway girls varsity assistant Dana Stewart lost her mother, Diane, to pancreatic cancer in 2011, and the father of Gateway eighth-grade student Logan Robinson also died from the disease.
“We made Logan an honorary team captain, so she was able to come on the court when the officials talked to the varsity players,” Nesbit said. “It was a very special evening for coach Dana and her family. It's nice to be able to continue to support her and her family.”
Nesbit said all of the purple T-shirts printed, close to 90 of them, were sold at $10 each.
To make a donation in support of pancreatic cancer research or to find out more about pancreatic cancer, visit www.pancan.org.
Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.