Kiski Area can't overcome Gateway's size
Gateway coach Mitch Adams said he wants his basketball players to share some of the limelight with the school's successful football program.
His Gators have at least one thing in common with the football guys — they like to go long.
In this case, long is 6-foot-10, 6-7, 6-7, 6-6 and 6-3.
Struggling with a size disadvantage and a lack of an inside game, Kiski Area spent much of Saturday's WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game looking up at the taller Gators in a 55-43 loss at Plum.
"Gateway played to their strengths," Kiski Area coach Harry Rideout said. "They worked very hard on defense. They're long, and that was tough for us."
Kiski Area (16-7) may not be finished yet, however.
Five WPIAL teams make the PIAA playoffs in Class AAAA. So, if Gateway (17-4) wins the championship, Kiski Area makes the state playoffs.
A tall order• Not if the sixth-seeded Gators play like they did yesterday — especially defensively.
Kiski Area hardly thought about posting up inside with 6-10 sophomore Barnett Harris and 6-7 forwards Mike Kromka and Devon Cotrell active and looming.
Instead, the 14th-seeded Cavaliers had to be patient and wait for the right shot from the perimeter.
Problem is, when they fell behind by 11 with 2:50 left, shot selection and extra passes seemed to trump a sense of urgency.
"The tempo got away from us because we were behind," Rideout said. "The shots we took are the shots we usually make. We were always a few possessions away. We weren't going to score at the rim, so we had to shoot."
The loss spoiled a splendid performance by Kiski Area senior guard Tarique Godson, who scored a game-high 23 points, including six 3-pointers.
After Kiski Area managed only four points in the second quarter, Godson scored all 10 of the team's points in the third, as the Cavs cut a 12-point deficit to eight, 39-31.
"He's a heck of a point guard, senior and person," Rideout said. "We always feel comfortable with the ball in his hands."
Kiski Area also got a spark from junior forward Charlie Toy, who had consecutive blocks late in the third quarter.
Unlike Plum, which beat Gateway twice during the regular season — largely due to outrebounding the Gators — Kiski Area couldn't establish position in the paint.
And it couldn't get Zach Barker, its leading scorer (17 ppg), going.
"He's a great shooter, and our goal was to shut him down," Adams said of Barker. "Our kids were focused. We had a week to prepare."
Barker, plagued by a sore back, was limited to six points.
"They took some of our options away," Barker said. "It was a tough game."
Kiski Area played well early, taking leads of 17-15 and 19-17.
But Gateway seemed to flourish after an emphatic tip-dunk by Harris that pushed the Gators lead to 26-19.
Gateway ended the first half on a 14-2 run.
Gateway 6-6 shooting guard Tyler Scott helped put the game away. He scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Scott, who also had a dunk with 15 seconds left, made 11 of 15 free throws. Ten of the Gators' 16 fourth-quarter points came on foul shots.
"Tyler Scott went off in the fourth quarter," Adams said. "I told him, 'Tyler, you're the best player on the floor; now show me.' "
Cottrell finished with 11 points for Gateway. Craig Banks, who scored 29 points in a first-round win, had eight.