Arcuri gets his 1,000 points, but Clairton rolls
The only suspense in Friday's St. Joseph-Clairton WPIAL playoff game was whether Spartans guard John Arcuri would hit the 1,000-point career scoring milestone.
Arcuri did it with a 3-pointer with 4:44 left in a game that had long been decided.
Clairton's athleticism proved to be too much for St. Joseph as the Bears rolled to a 74-38 victory in a Class A opening-round game at Chartiers Valley.
“I couldn't do anything without my coaches and teammates, that's really what it is,” Arcuri said after removing his Spartans uniform one last time. “It's mostly my coaches, though. They motivated me throughout my career, helped me persevere and to get better every year.”
Arcuri needed 26 to hit the milestone — and that's exactly what he got. The extra challenge was the fact that Clairton had taken a 40-point lead with 1:38 left in third period to put the PIAA's continuous clock rule in effect, limiting offensive opportunities for all players.
As for the matchup itself, Clairton appears poised to make a strong run at the Class A title game after this past fall's historic football run.
The Bears (14-6) have won six of their last seven games after not playing a game until Dec. 21, less than a week after bringing home another state football title to the Mon River Valley.Clairton will take on Union in a quarterfinal Friday.
The loss concluded St. Joseph's season at 9-14. The Spartans appeared in the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.
St. Joseph had taken a 9-7 lead on Arcuri's second 3-pointer with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
After a timeout, Clairton seemed to put its game into a higher gear, staging an 18-0 run to take command.
“Our plan going into the game was putting Armani Ford on Arcuri,” Bears coach Matt Geletko said. “We stuck with our man-for-man (defense), switched up, and tried to run and jump at him just to try and get the ball out of his hands. We wanted to attack him soon almost as he crossed half court.”
St. Joseph committed turnovers on six straight possessions to help fuel the huge Clairton surge.
“They're just so athletic,” said Spartans coach Kelly Robinson. “We were trying to keep things in the paint, and we wanted them to shoot the perimeter shot and try one shot and out.”
Instead, the Bears collected a remarkable 19 offensive rebounds in the first half en route to a 45-19 lead at the intermission.
“Once they started to double John (Arcuri), he had to kick it to the other guards, and the wheels just came off early,” Robinson said.
George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.