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Jeannette boys perform well in tourney, return to section play

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Wise makes a shot in a Jayhawks game this season.
John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit
Michael Wise makes a shot in a Jayhawks game this season.

Measuring stick games — that is how Jeannette basketball head coach Adrian Batts views matchups with teams in higher classifications — measuring stick games.

Batts and his team broke the lull of the holiday break by participating in Gateway High School's holiday tournament, a three-day, eight-team event that pitted the Jayhawks against Clairton last Thursday in the first round, Gateway last Friday in the semifinals, and Shaler last Saturday afternoon in the tournament's consolation game.

Gateway and Shaler are both Quad-A teams in the WPIAL, and both present a unique challenge for a Class AA team like Jeannette.

“Gateway is a very talented team, and we knew it would be a playoff-type atmosphere when we played them,” said Batts. “Shaler plays a different way. They look to pass about 10 to 15 times before looking to score.”

Before Jeannette could get to Gateway, though, they had to win their first-round matchup with Clairton, a Class A team. Jeannette used good defense and a balanced attack to take out Clairton, 59-36, to set up the semifinal game against the host team, Gateway.

Jeannette outplayed Gateway early on and held the lead throughout most of the game.

“We were on their floor and they didn't think we could beat them,” said Batts. “We outplayed them most of the game, had a 20-second letdown and it came back to haunt us.”

The “20-second letdown” came at game's end when Gateway began fouling Jeannette. The Jayhawks missed three free-throw opportunities, and the Gators converted on the offensive end to take the lead and eventually seal a 60-58 win.

The loss pushed Jeannette into the consolation game last Saturday afternoon against Shaler, and the Jayhawks responded well, ratcheting up their defense and scoring enough to take down the Titans, 49-38.

Fair to say that Jeannette measured up well in its two games against Quad-A teams.

Jeannette will pick up Section 3 Class AA play out of the holiday break Friday night at Serra Catholic.

In preparing his team for Serra, Batts will remind them of their section-opening upset loss to South Allegheny on their home floor.

“The South Allegheny game showed us that we have to come out focused for every game,” said Batts. “We need to be ready to play Serra on Friday.”

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