Steel Valley routs No. 1 Elizabeth Forward in section showdown
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Over the past month — whether the Warriors knew it or not — top-ranked Elizabeth Forward had some pretty rabid supporters.
Ever since Steel Valley blew a 15-point third-quarter lead and lost in overtime on Elizabeth Forward's home court last month, the Ironmen wanted nothing more than for the Warriors to keep on winning.
Of course, it was for selfish reasons.
Steel Valley wanted to be the team that knocked Elizabeth Forward from the ranks of the unbeaten in Section 4-AAA.
With Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister serving a mandatory PIAA one-game suspension for being ejected in a game earlier in the week, the Ironmen kept their section title hopes alive with a convincing 82-63 win over Elizabeth Forward that snapped the Warriors' five-game winning streak.
“From that day, they have been looking forward to that day,” assistant coach Ed Wellman said.
“We said that they were going to be the first team to knock them off.
“We wanted them to run the section so we could be the first team to beat them.”
The win pushed Steel Valley (10-2, 5-2) to within a game of Elizabeth Forward (13-2, 6-1) for first place with three weeks left in the season.
“They outhustled us and outplayed us in the first half,” Elizabeth Forward coach Gerald Grayson said. “What basically happened was that we got into deep foul trouble, and we really couldn't play our man-to-man defense.”
Steel Valley got big games from Dom Keyes and Ajan Smith. Keyes scored 21 points and grabbed 21 rebounds (11 offensive) while Smith added 20 points and 10 boards. Derek Taylor chipped in with 18, and Kennedy Smith scored 15 off the bench.
Elizabeth Forward got 21 from Austin Matta, 15 from Jalen French and 11 from JaQuan Davidson, but the majority of the Warriors' points (31 of their 63) came in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.
“We just played tremendous defense,” Wellman said.
It didn't hurt that the Warriors were in foul trouble from the outset.
Davidson picked up his third foul three minutes into the second quarter and his fourth three minutes into the third, while 6-foot-9 center George Prota picked up his fourth at 2:19 of the second before fouling out with 5:35 left in the game.
“(Davidson) has to be on the court,” Grayson said. “He does everything — rebounds, pass, assist, score, play great defense — so he has to be on the court.”
Davidson scored 22 points in the Dec. 13 win over the Ironmen.
It was evident early that Davidson was missed when Steel Valley turned a 10-9 deficit into a 24-10 lead with Davidson on the bench for the majority of the run.
Being in foul trouble also forced Grayson to alter his man-to-man defense, transition offense philosophy.
“It changes everything they do,” Wellman said. “They full-court pressed us like tonight, but our guards handled it well. They had to foul. We put them in no other situation.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.