Kiski Area can't overcome two-time champ Gateway
TribLIVE Sports Videos
For about three quarters, it was a relatively smooth ride for the Kiski Area's boys basketball team in its playoff opener.
The Cavaliers led by as many as 13 Wednesday night in their Class AAAA first-round game against Gateway at Plum.
But then came that queasy feeling opponents can get from facing Gateway, a team with a been-there-won-that sense of self confidence that radiates from senior leaders. For Kiski Area, it was like spending too much time in the wave pool after a big meal.
This was one unpleasant visit to Boyce Park.
Senior guard Dennis Boyce scored a game-high 23 points and swiped eight steals to rally the two-time defending WPIAL champions to a 24-point fourth quarter and a 56-45 victory over Kiski Area.
The ninth-seeded Gators (16-5) advance to face No. 1 New Castle (23-0) in Saturday's quarterfinals.
Kiski Area, which put together a co-section title and picked up the No. 8 seed, ends its season at 16-6.
Boyce is a three-year starter who won back-to-back titles. He helped the Gators come back from an early, 25-12 deficit and get to within 29-24 at the half. When he split two defenders for a layup late in the third to get the Gators to within 33-30, Kiski Area knew Gateway had life —and about nine minutes left to prove it still isn't ready to give up the keys to the Palumbo Center.
But thanks to Boyce, Gateway's bus driver might have to hand over his.
“Dennis Boyce did it all for us tonight,” Gateway coach Mitch Adams said. “I think he's probably going to drive the bus home.”
Boyce scored eight points in the final five minutes.
“Boyce was fantastic,” Kiski Area coach Harry Rideout said. “He's been doing that for them. He put in a wonderful effort and turned the game around.
“I didn't feel comfortable when we were up five. You could sense they were going to make a run. We weren't able to match their intensity.”
Gateway turned the tide in the fourth, opening the quarter with a 13-0 run, including a pair of inside hoops by Delvon Randall and a breakaway layup by Boyce to give the Gators a 43-35 lead.
Kiski Area went more than a minute without a point before Mike Simmons hit a 3-pointer with 4:12 left.
Joey Brungo, who tied senior Nick Stone's team-lead with 12 points, made a free throw to get the Cavs within 43-39.
But it got worse for Kiski Area from there. Two steals led to easy hoops for Boyce, who fueled another spurt, this time 9-2 to put the Gators ahead 52-41 with 1:02 left.
Defensive pressure seemed to wear down Kiski Area late.
“They handled our press for about six minutes because we went half-court man-to-man for the rest of the game and put pressure on them,” Adams said. “Kiski Area has some good shooters, and I thought our guys did a good job of closing out on them.”
Kiski Area's best play came in the second quarter. A 10-2 run, with 3s by Simmons and Stone, had Kiski Area ahead, 25-12.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.