Hampton boys basketball gets past McKeesport in WPIALs
Hampton won their WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal against McKeesport, 71-63, but the final score wasn't indicative of how dominant the Talbots were in the first half.
The Talbots put on an offensive clinic to jump out to a 50-28 lead.
“I thought we played our best basketball of the season in the first half,” Talbots coach Joe Lafko said. “If we can put two halves like that together, I think we can have an awesome game.”
Included in that explosive first half was a second-period run in which Hampton scored on 11 consecutive possessions.
“It's something we were waiting for,” Lafko said. “We were clicking on all cylinders.”
Hampton center Ryan Luther outscored every player in the second period alone with 18 points and ended the game with 31 points.
“I told Ryan it's the best first half I've seen him play all season long, probably the best first half in his career,” Lafko said. “He did everything he's capable of doing.”
Luther showed the ability to drive to the basket from the perimeter, dunked the ball twice and made two blocks on the defensive end.
While Hampton's offense rolled in the first half, they staggered in the second half when they tried to pace themselves.
“We were trying to be patiently aggressive,” Lafko said. “That's an oxymoron, but you have to be able to take good shots and make the defense work a little bit.”
Hampton lost its rhythm on both ends of the court, and McKeesport trailed by four points with 10 seconds left.
“I give those kids a lot of credit for battling,” Lafko said. “That's also a credit to their coach. He gets those kids to play hard.”
McKeesport made four consecutive 3-point shots with less than two minutes to go but had to foul Luther and David Huber in the closing seconds.
Luther and Huber hit all four of their free throws to clinch the win.
“I'm just happy we're moving on in this tournament,” Lafko said.
Hampton played North Allegheny on Wednesday in the semifinals.
Results were not available at press time.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.