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No. 1 Elizabeth Forward rallies to stun Steel Valley, stay perfect

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Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review
Elizabeth Forward's Matt Bernadowski scores against Steel Valley on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at Elizabeth Forward.
Top high school sports
By Jason Mackey
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 10:24 p.m.

JaQuan Davidson refused to come out of the game.

Similarly, the Elizabeth Forward boys basketball team refused to lose the game.

Despite trailing by 15 points late in the third quarter, the top-ranked Warriors bounced back behind their captain to escape with a 69-64 overtime victory over Section 4-AAA rival Steel Valley on Friday night.

Davidson injured his left wrist while dunking in the first quarter but didn't miss a minute.

“I didn't want to come out of the game,” said Davidson, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “My team needed me.”

Besides Davidson, who led Class AAA in scoring last season at 22 points per game, center George Prota contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds. Austin Matta added 13 points, and Jasano Brooks had 11.

Steel Valley (3-1, 0-1) got 15 first-half points from Brandon Donovan, but none after Elizabeth Forward (6-0, 1-0) switched from zone to man-to-man in the second half.

Ajan Smith and Dominique Keyes had 14 points apiece, and Dorian Broadwater 10. Smith added 11 rebounds before fouling out with 27.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

“We knew that if we didn't stop Donovan, it was going to be tough to win the ballgame,” Matta said.

Elizabeth Forward used an 8-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter to get to 49-43 and tied it on a Matta 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:53 left.

Steel Valley had the ball with 14.1 seconds left after a travel call on Matta, but Broadwater's off-balance 3-point attempt fell short, keeping the score tied at 60.

“We had the ball with 14 seconds left in regulation, and we had a chance to win it,” Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister said. “We couldn't get it done.”

Prota scored on a layup 11 seconds into overtime to give Elizabeth Forward the lead for good, and Matta made a pair of free throws to stretch it to 64-60 with 1:36 left in the extra period.

A Ryan McCallister 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Ironmen a 49-34 edge, but Davidson's dunk and 3-pointer cut it to 49-39 after three.

Davidson followed a Prota layup with a steal-and-score to force a Steel Valley timeout 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.

“He kept digging, kept clawing,” Elizabeth Forward coach Gerald Grayson said of Davidson. “He's our leader.”

The first quarter featured four lead changes — and one relatively scary incident.

About halfway through the period, Davidson stole the ball at midcourt and threw down a two-handed dunk. After falling to the ground, the Pitt football recruit slowly rose to his feet while clutching his left wrist.

It turned out to be no big deal, though, as he stayed in the game — later taping the wrist — and finished with nine points in the first quarter.

“When they saw him stay in the game, that's big for our team,” Grayson said.

Steel Valley built a 36-26 lead at halftime as Donovan knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the opening half.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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