ShareThis Page

Albert Gallatin gains newfound respect

| Monday, Feb. 26, 2007

Albert Gallatin has toiled in anonymity throughout this season, calmly building a solid 18-6 regular-season record and earning a spot in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

"There's not too many people that know about us," Albert Gallatin coach Dan Andria said. "We sort of on the outer fringes of the WPIAL and nobody really gives Section 1 any credit."

After Saturday afternoon, however, there was nowhere for the Colonials to hide. Not after a stunning 80-73 upset of No. 1-ranked Moon, a three-time defending champion in Class AAA looking to add its fourth straight title after being moved up a classification this season.

Albert Gallatin (20-6) will play Pine-Richland (18-7) in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Canon-McMillan High School for the right to play for the title Saturday at Palumbo Center.

"We knew coming in that Moon was a very good team and that they had won three Triple-A championships in a row and they were going for a fourth, but we just went in and played," Andria said. "Our kids play good defense, but I think you have to play good defense in the playoffs."

Perhaps what Albert Gallatin's win really showed against Moon was just how balanced the WPIAL's highest classification is this season. There were no undefeated teams in Class AAAA, three teams entered the playoffs with at least 20 wins and none of the qualifiers finished the regular season with a sub-.500 record.

In fact, the four teams in the semifinals -- Albert Gallatin, Pine-Richland, Bethel Park and Fox Chapel -- represent each of the four sections in the classification. Of those four, only second-seeded Bethel Park has won both of its games in a rout, beating Hempfield by 30 and defending champion Mt. Lebanon by 20. No. 3 Fox Chapel has been taken to the brink of elimination by both Latrobe (54-53) and Central Catholic (54-51).

"Section 1 had two teams in the final eight and Latrobe came within a shot of making it three," Andria said. "When you see that there's only one team from each section, you can say that it is really balanced this year."

What could shift the equilibrium Albert Gallatin's way against the Rams could be the stockpile of talented seniors on its team. The Colonials are led by 6-foot-8 senior forward Jawaan Alston, a University of Buffalo recruit who scored a game-high 24 points in the win over Moon.

Though Alston may be the team's go-to player, he needs the others around him to step up their game for him to play at a high level. Alston is not a prototypical center, even though that's his station for the Colonials because his strength is ball distribution. When teams collapse on him and he kicks it out to an open man for a shot is when Alston is at his best.

What also helped Alston and Albert Gallatin down the stretch was the return of senior forward Nate Turner from shoulder surgery that sidelined him all of last year. He scored 17 points against Moon and is a perfect complement to Alston in the paint.

"Turner got hurt again a couple weeks ago with an ankle sprain and that set him back," Andria said. "But in the two playoff games, he's been really focused and played strong inside."

Well enough to change Albert Gallatin from anonymous to contender.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me