Share This Page

Gateway gunning for long stay in WPIAL Quad-A playoffs

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Alisa Jacobson | For The Times Express
Alexis Young (2), Jasmine Copeland (25) and London Wade (5) defend a drive to the basket by a Plum player during a Section 2-AAAA game on Jan. 2, 2014.

The Gateway varsity girls basketball team is in the WPIAL Quad-A playoffs for the fourth year in a row, and head coach Cornelius Nesbit hopes his team can make a run similar to the one it produced last year and avoid a fate it experienced in 2012.

The Gators won three of five postseason games last year and played in the WPIAL semifinals and the second round of the state playoffs.

Gateway suffered heartbreak in the first round at Baldwin two years ago with a last-second, 55-53 loss to Upper St. Clair.

“The playoffs are a new season, and the girls are excited about that,” Nesbit said.

The playoff pairings, including dates, times and locations for all first-round games, were to be released Tuesday evening, past the deadline for this week's edition.

Gateway finished the regular season 13-8 overall and 7-5 (fourth place) in Section 2-AAAA.

The Gators clinched their playoff spot with a 40-33 win at Franklin Regional on Jan. 28, and they were 4-3 overall down the stretch.

Gateway was 3-4 after seven section contests, but it went 4-1 over its final five section games to secure its place in the playoffs.

In addition to the playoff-clinching win at Franklin Regional, Nesbit pointed to a key home win over Plum, 50-49, on Jan. 24.

He also said a challenging nonsection slate, with games against such foes as Upper St. Clair, Vincentian, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Keystone Oaks and Altoona, was very important.

“Our schedule should have us really ready for the playoffs,” Nesbit said.

“Most of our games were on the road, and that will help us because all of our games in the playoffs will be away from home. We have a routine for away games. The girls are used to it by now.”

Gateway continued preparation for the playoffs with a game Monday against two-time defending WPIAL Class A champ Vincentian.

The Royals, 18-3 overall, got 20 points from junior guard Brenna Wise in a 37-28 win over the Gators.

“The game gave us an opportunity to gage ourselves against a really good basketball team,” Nesbit said.

“It shows a lot about our kids when they go up against a player the caliber of Brenna Wise. This will help us when we get into the playoffs and play teams like Vincentian and players like Wise.”

Senior Jada Epps led Gateway with 14 points, and she finished the regular-season as the team's leading scorer at 13.7 points per game.

Junior Morgan Hainsey also finished the regular season in double figures for scoring average at 10.5 a contest.

Nesbit said that a lower seed comes with finishing fourth in the section, but, he said, a lot of the success or failure in the playoffs will be based on what his players do and what the coaching staff does.

“We have to focus on what we know we can do offensively and defensively,” Nesbit said.

“When the ball is thrown up, it's all about execution. We have the talent to make a run in the playoffs, no matter who we face.”

Nesbit said his team isn't looking back on any loss with regret.

“We can't change any outcomes,” he said. “But we can learn from mistakes made in games and build on positives. It's a clean slate in the playoffs, and we're optimistic about our chances to do well.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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.