Clairton eyes another WPIAL title — basketball this time
By Keith Barnes
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
When Elijah Minnie's desperation 3-pointer missed at the buzzer to seal Clairton's 71-70 upset victory over top-seeded Lincoln Park, Bears fans stormed the court at Keystone Oaks in a frenzied celebration.
Though it has become popular to storm the court after relatively meaningless victories, this wasn't one of them. This was an upset win over a Lincoln Park (19-6) squad many believed had the WPIAL Class A title in the bag by a Clairton team that was considered to be just an athletic bunch of football players with no chance against a group of dedicated basketball players.
“I think if they win (the WPIAL title), they'll realize it, and maybe some people are coming around,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. “But I think it will take a win for people to say that these aren't just football players out there playing basketball.”
Clairton (16-6) will make its first WPIAL Class A championship game appearance since beating Duquesne for the title in 2006 when the Bears take the floor against second-seeded Vincentian (24-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. For a team that has made Heinz Field a second home with five consecutive WPIAL Class A football titles, a trip to Duquesne University will be a welcomed change.
“This is real important because ever since we were little, like in eighth grade, this group has talked about playing at the Palumbo and winning states and all of that,” Clairton senior Titus Howard said. “Now we have a chance to do something we've wanted to do since we were kids.”
With a win, Clairton would join some elite company. No team has swept the WPIAL football and basketball titles in the same school year since Central Catholic (Class AAAA), Jeannette (Class AA) and Serra Catholic (Class A) did it in 2007-08. Both Central Catholic and Jeannette also won the state football title that year, but only the Jayhawks, led by Terrelle Pryor, won both the state football and basketball titles.
No one was happier than Howard that Clairton was able to erase an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Lincoln Park and have that opportunity. With just under 4:00 remaining in the third quarter, he hit a 3-pointer that trimmed the Leopards' lead to 51-50, then backpedaled into defensive position and taunted the crowd by tugging the orange-lettered school name on the front of his jersey.
He was immediately called for a technical foul for “propping,” an automatic call that was added to the rule book in the last couple of years. Geletko had to be restrained on the bench when he was informed of the reason for the technical, and Lincoln Park used the free throws and ensuing possession to start a 10-0 run to close out the quarter.
Because the Bears wear their emotions on their sleeves, Howard said, the players have to keep themselves in check.
“I got a little bit out of hand in the emotion of the game and I have to calm down a little bit,” Howard said. “We get hyped real quick and we just have to stay calm and play our game.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KBarnes_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.
- A-K Valley girls basketball teams struggling to score points
- Greensburg roundup: Burns scores 34 to lead Hempfield past Connellsville