McKeesport boys basketball team eliminated from playoff chase after loss
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It didn't concern McKeesport coach Corey Gadson that he was going to be without his leading scorer and rebounder for the biggest game of the year.
He figured it wasn't going to matter to his players, either, heading into Friday's Section 2-AAAA game against visiting Franklin Regional.
A victory would propel the Tigers into the thick of the playoff race. A loss would eliminate them.
Even if the Tigers were without Khalil Perdue, the combination of playing at home and it being a must-win game surely would be enough.
McKeesport couldn't compensate for Perdue's 19 points and 12 rebounds per game, and Franklin Regional overwhelmed the Tigers on the boards to earn a 68-54 win at Neenie Campbell Gymnasium.
“They wanted it more than us,” Gadson said. “I was disappointed on how we came out. They came out and punched us in the mouth, and we never recovered. We don't deserve to go to the playoffs. You have to earn your right, and we didn't.”
It's the second time in four years that McKeesport (9-10, 5-7) failed to make the postseason.
“It is very hard to win on the road in this section,” Franklin Regional coach Brad Midgely said. “It was a game that I was worried about, but I felt that our guys took a very business-like approach and did what they had to do.”
The win moved Franklin Regional (13-6, 8-4) into a four-way tie for second place in the section with Fox Chapel (15-4, 8-4), Gateway (12-8, 8-4) and Central Catholic (11-8, 8-4) behind front-running Plum (16-2, 10-2).
Franklin Regional received 21 points from guard Matt Renzi, but a slight adjustment by Midgely — he switched Matt Fisch from power forward to small forward and inserted George Brown into the lineup — made all the difference.
“We went with our three bigs, and it worked to our advantage,” Midgely said. “Sometimes those things don't work against a quicker team, but we felt that we had a chance to dominate the boards.”
Brown came off the bench late in the first quarter and dominated. Brown's three putback layups within a 58-second second-quarter span propelled the Panthers on an 11-0 run to open up a 32-18 lead right before halftime.
“When you get those second-chance points, it gives you the luxury of not shooting well on the road compared to home but still getting more opportunities,” Midgely said.
Brown finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive) as Franklin Regional outrebounded McKeesport, 42-21. Fisch added 14 points and seven rebounds.
McKeesport was led by Jordan Payne's 25 points, but nobody else hit double figures or grabbed more than five rebounds.
“Perdue kind of cleans up everything,” Gadson said. “Without him on the floor and cleaning up, we had nothing. We had no inside presence at all. That was the game right there.”
Still, McKeesport was able to stay within striking distance, and when Demetrius Diggs hit a 3-pointer with a minute left in the third, the Tigers climbed within 45-41.
But Franklin Regional answered with a 7-2 run before hitting 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“What makes this hurt is that if we would've gotten this one that, we would've had a pretty good look at the playoffs,” Gadson said. “I thought the kids would come out better, but the moment is big and we are talking about 16-year-olds and maybe the moment was a little too big for them.”
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.