Gateway's season concludes with PIAA loss to New Castle
For the second time in as many playoffs games against New Castle, Gateway's hopes for an upset of the Red Hurricanes faded in the second quarter.
In the WPIAL quarterfinal matchup on Feb. 23, a big New Castle run in the final five minutes of the second quarter turned a one-point game into a double-digit deficit for the Gators.
On Saturday, in a PIAA first-round game at North Allegheny, Gateway trailed by six, 18-12, after one quarter.
Then, the Red Hurricanes' pressure forced turnovers, Gateway missed several high-percentage shots close to the basket and New Castle hit a couple of its trademark 3-pointers to take control.
A 25-6 second quarter gave the Red Hurricanes a 43-18 lead at halftime en route to a 68-48 win that ended the Gators fourth-straight trip to the state playoffs.
“New Castle is a great team — that is no secret — and we didn't play up to what we expected,” Gateway head coach Mitch Adams said.
“Against them, you have to defend and shoot the ball well and convert foul shots. We missed way to many layups. That's the ball game right there.”
Gateway ended its season at 16-7 overall.
The Gators got 20 points from junior Delvon Randall. He scored seven of Gateway's 12 first-quarter points.
Senior Deon Cottrell-Baker added nine points and six rebounds, while junior Tommy Kromka added six points and nine rebounds.
Sophomore Daylon Harris came off the bench and contributed six points.
Saturday's game was the final one in a Gators uniform for Baker and fellow seniors D.J. Boyce and Steven Hartnett.
Boyce was a reserve as a freshman in the 2009-10 season when the Gators made its first appearance in the WPIAL Quad-A title game at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center.
He became a starter as a sophomore and helped Gateway win back-to-back WPIAL titles.
Over the past four seasons, Gateway posted an 80-25 record.
“D.J. gave the varsity program four great seasons,” Adams said. “I love him like a son. Steve's been in the program since seventh grade and has worked hard each year. Deon came in this season and gave us quality time. You feel bad for them that it's ending right now.”
Jordan Landfair, a senior this year and the leading scorer for the Gators in the WPIAL quarterfinal loss to New Castle, left the team between that game and Saturday's rematch with the Red Hurricanes. Adams declined to comment further.
Randall, Kromka and fellow starter Shomari Thomas, a junior, will return to form the nucleus of next year's team. Adams said Harris, as well as players such as junior Henry York and freshman Aiden Howard, also will be part of the plan moving forward.
“We have a lot of young kids coming back,” Adams said. “We'll give them a couple of weeks off, and then we will get them ready to go.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.