Loss in City semifinals motivates Obama Academy's senior standouts
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Along with battling the City League's five other teams, Obama Academy seniors D.J. Porter and Calique Jones must beat complacency.
They were starters last season when complacency won.
“This year, we're not taking anyone lightly,” said Porter, a 24.4-point scorer for the undefeated Eagles (12-0, 3-0) who want the City League title and state playoff trip that they missed last season.
Then, the talented Eagles were 16-2 before being upset by Perry, 80-79, in the City League semifinals.
In hindsight, the Eagles believe they took Perry lightly. They already had beaten Perry twice and were anticipating an easy third.
“We were disappointed with our performance in that last game,” Obama coach Nate Lofton said. “(The players) were looking forward to the City championship game. It's an old cliché: Never overlook an opponent. But they were thinking it would be a cakewalk.”
Memories of that season-ending loss have yet to fade.
“After that loss, I was hurt,” Jones said. “I was hurt for myself but mostly for the seniors last year. They wanted to win. It was a horrible ending to a really good season. … We came back with a mindset that we didn't want to be like last year's team.”
The Eagles use a five-guard lineup led by Porter and Jones.
Porter (6-foot-5), son of former Pitt standout Darelle Porter, has drawn Division I interest. No City League player has scored like him since Schenley's DeAndre Kane (31.1 ppg) in 2007-08. Porter had 28 in Tuesday's 68-65 victory over Allderdice.
Jones (6-0), a quick point guard who averages 14 points per game, has Division II potential, Lofton said. They form the best scoring tandem in a City League that's shrunk to just six teams.
“(As a coach,) you have to find ways to challenge them,” Lofton said. “(You start to become complacent) once you see you're better than others. That's just natural instinct … but I see that they're more focused and they have more determination.”
The three new starters are senior Alan Hord (6-0), junior James Taylor-Lane (6-0) and senior Chris Noel (6-1). Hord and Taylor-Lane, a Central Catholic transfer, are new to the program.
Senior Marcus Johnson (6-2), a standout wide receiver this past fall, and junior Khalid Bryant (6-0) add depth.
The group has averaged 73.5 points with notable wins over Franklin Regional (89-82), Upper St. Clair (69-67) and Class AAA No. 4 Central Valley (77-56), which has lost just once. But Lofton sees room for growth.
“Even though we've won 12 games, we're at 50 percent of where we could be,” he said.
Darelle Porter helped assemble the non-league schedule. The team's upcoming contests include a Jan. 26 matchup with Vincentian (13-0), which averages 94 points.
“He was trying to get us the toughest opponents we could play,” Lofton said. “A record means nothing if you've got a soft schedule.”
A 10-game City League schedule provides only so many challenges. Obama Academy faces Perry (4-8) on Friday afternoon, their first matchup since last season's playoffs.
“I can't wait to play them,” Porter said. “That loss is still sticking with me. There's a lot of motivation.”
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.
- Deer Lakes boys move into tough Class AAA section
- Athletic McKeesport boys basketball team features new coach, up-tempo style
- Deer Lakes girls basketball set for AAA competition
- McKeesport girls basketball team healthy, anxious to start new season
- Apollo-Ridge basketball wants fast pace this season
- Apollo-Ridge girls aim to repeat strong start, avoid lapses this season
- Frazier grad Poling set to coach school’s girls basketball team
- 6-foot-8 transfer bolsters Cheswick Christian boys lineup
- Cheswick Christian girls have high expectations
- HS highlight reel: Practices for winter sports start today