Frazier boys basketball team boots South Allegheny from postseason
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 9:39 p.m.
Sure, it was South Allegheny's first playoff game in more than a decade. And sure, the Gladiators exceeded expectations by putting a decade of disappointment — a 59-165 record and no winning seasons — behind them.
But that's something that second-year coach Tony DiCenzo and South Allegheny will be proud of down the road.
South Allegheny's first playoff game since 2003 ended like its last one — in heartbreaking fashion.
Two months after routing Frazier by 25 points on its home court, South Allegheny was stunned by the Commodores, 46-43, in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round game at Baldwin on Saturday.
“There's no doubt about it, this one stings,” DiCenzo said.
Frazier (15-7) advanced to take on No. 6 Avonworth (16-5) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Chartiers-Houston.
“Can I tell you something? We didn't lose to anybody twice all year,” Frazier coach Ed Keebler said. “These kids have gotten better as the year has gone on, and we've gotten a lot better since we last played South Allegheny.”
South Allegheny (14-9) was only two years removed from a winless season and was on the verge of winning the school's first playoff game in 13 years before faltering down the stretch against a gritty Frazier team.
“Right now, this hurts,” DiCenzo said. “We wanted to win the game and move on in the tournament, but when we look back on this we are going to be happy with what we accomplished.”
DiCenzo paused, then added: “But it might take awhile.”
South Allegheny's Ty Cook had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Kordell Thompson scored 13. Charles Manack led Frazier with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“We knew it was going to be a closer game than what it was a couple months ago,” DiCenzo said. “They are a better team than they were then, and so are we. You have to give them credit.”
Frazier held South Allegheny to 20 fewer points compared to their first meeting. The Commodores defended the 3-point shot much better than they did in December.
“We didn't realize going into that game how good they can shoot the three,” Keebler said. “They had to hit 10 our first meeting. They were lights out. We just had our good players to get out there and get a hand in the face more.”
South Allegheny hit only 4 of 18 from 3-point range (14 of 45 field goals overall), including a pair of missed opportunities by Jeiron Lewis late in the game — the first would have put SA ahead with 10 seconds left; the second would have sent the game to overtime.
“To be honest, that's how we go,” DiCenzo said. “When we shoot the ball well and with the way we defend, we are a tough team to beat. When we have an off-night shooting is the reason why we can lose.”
Early on, it was all Cook for South Allegheny.
The senior scored all nine of SA's points in the first quarter and its first 11. But when Cook picked up his second foul midway through the first half, everything changed.
Cook scored only five points the rest of the game, but would be missed more on the defensive end.
Because of foul trouble, DiCenzo was forced to move Cook off Manack, and the 6-foot-1 senior took full advantage. Manack was 5 of 7 from the floor and scored 14 points in the second half.
“What that kid has between his ears and what he is teaching the kids is amazing,” Keebler said. “Still, I am surprised they didn't get (Cook) the ball more. I don't know what happened. We really didn't do anything more with him.”
SA led 31-27 in the third before Frazier used a 9-0 run to end the quarter with a 36-31 lead. Frazier extended its lead to 40-32 before S
A rallied to get within 42-41 when Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 2:08 left.
Roger Cline would get loose for a layup 30 seconds later, then converted a pair of free throws late.
“At the end of the day, they were a little bit better than us,” DiCenzo said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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