Jeannette pulls off first-round playoff upset
As the seconds ticked down in Jeannette's 86-75 upset victory over sixth-seeded Aliquippa in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, Jayhawks coach Adrian Batts looked across the floor at his team's fans and signaled for them to pump up the volume.
"I was kind of shocked about our fans, because usually they're pretty crazy," Batts said. "I just think that, when they saw we had the lead, they didn't want to see us lose the lead because we kept them on pins and needles, but they got behind us and I was happy about that."
Though Jeannette clinched a berth in the PIAA Class AA playoffs, it will need its fans and every point it can muster for its next opponent. The No. 11 Jayhawks will take on Section 4-AA rival and third-seeded Shady Side Academy (17-3) — a team against which they split their two regular-season games, with each winning on the other's floor — on Saturday at a site and time to be determined for a berth in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals.
"We're familiar with them, and they're familiar with us," Batts said. "It will be a dogfight."
Aliquippa (14-8) was also familiar with Jeannette after a 61-60 victory in their first matchup Jan. 2, which may have been a reason why fans from both sides were anxious. Another could have been their abysmal showing at the free throw line. The Quips were 13 of 26 from the line, while the Jayhawks (16-7) finished 13 for 33 (39.4 percent).
Jeannette, in stark contrast, was 34 of 55 (61.8 percent) from the floor.
"We just have to focus at practice," Jeannette guard Darius Brown said. "We've been fooling around and talking while we were shooting, but we really have to crack down on that and Coach Batts will make sure that we do."
Brown was among the team's better free throw shooters against Aliquippa. He was 5 for 8, which helped him score a game-high 23 points.
Toddy Harris got off to a slow start with two points in the first quarter but came alive and finished with 19.
While Brown and Harris were the only two starters in double-figures, Demetrious Cox and Dezon Hall were just as important off the bench. Cox finished the game with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Hall had with 11 points and six boards.
"Cox is a starter in our eyes, and he's outstanding at rebounding the ball and finishing around the rim," Batts said. "The one thing about Dezon, he can make some layups, he rebounded some and, as big as he is, he's a pretty good free throw shooter."
Jeannette took over the game with a 10-2 run to close out the first quarter that turned an 8-7 Aliquippa lead into a 17-10 Jayhawks advantage. Throughout the first half the Quips' offense was stymied, and they trailed by as many as 14 early in the second quarter.
Though no one fouled out for Aliquippa, three players — Malcolm Green, Kevin Johnson and Davion Hall — each finished with four fouls. Hall scored 11 points, and Green came off the bench to drop in five 3-pointers and 19 points overall to support Troy Jeter's 21.
Still, though Aliquippa was forced deeper into its bench because of foul problems, that wasn't the main reason for the loss.
"It was what we did turning the ball over (23 times) because we had something like 15 or 20 unforced turnovers, and in the playoffs, if you do that and you give up 86 points, you're going to have an early exit," Aliquippa coach Marvin Emerson said. "We got some guys in foul trouble and they're a good team, but we just couldn't get out of our own way."
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