McKeesport's Perdue steps up in rout of Woodland Hills
Recent injuries to a pair of McKeesport basketball starters motivated Khalil Perdue to do more.
Perdue, a 6-foot-3 forward and one of eight seniors on the Tigers roster, figured he'd need to take a bigger leadership role with fellow senior forward Ed Tyson and junior guard Jordan Payne sidelined with ankle injuries.
“I just decided I was going to work that much harder,” Perdue said Friday night after scoring 21 points for McKeesport in the Tigers' 62-23 rout of visiting Woodland Hills in a WPIAL Section 2-AAAA game.
It was Perdue's second consecutive 21-point performance, matching his scoring output in a four-point loss to Norwin one night earlier in a nonsection game.
“It's our job as seniors to lead the younger players on this team,” Perdue said. “With those two guys injured, I figured it was time I took more of a leadership role. I'm working harder, and I'm running the floor, like coach told me to do.”
Payne has missed five games, and Tyson has missed three for McKeesport (4-6, 1-3), which earned its first section victory after losing its first three, including the past two to Plum and Central Catholic by an average of five points.
McKeesport has lost four games by four points or fewer and is just 2-5 in games decided by six points or fewer margin.
“Practices have been a real grind this year for us,” McKeesport coach Corey Gadson said. “We needed something positive to happen. This game was just what the doctor ordered. It gives our guys some confidence and hopefully can make practices more worthwhile.”
Anthony Mains added 10 points for McKeesport, whose defense smothered Woodland Hills (0-4, 0-10), which scored its fewest points of the season. The previous low for the Wolverines, who were averaging 44.6 points, came in a 68-37 loss to Plum on Dec. 13.
“After that loss (Thursday night at Norwin), we kind of got into the kids' psyche,” Gadson said. “At some point, you have to do that if you're going to have a chance of motivating guys. We've got to keep grinding.”
Perdue appears to understand the routine.
“He just seems to keep bailing everybody out,” Gadson said. “He gets his hands on a lot of loose balls, and he's very tenacious at getting to the basket. He's been a joy to coach.”
McKeesport took control from the start against outmanned Woodland Hills, which started two freshmen and one sophomore. The Tigers led 16-5 after the first quarter and 34-8 at halftime, prompting Gadson to begin emptying his bench early.
By the start of the fourth quarter, McKeesport comfortably was in front 52-16.
“It was good to get all the guys in there to get some work,” Gadson said. “It helps everyone's confidence.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.