A snap for Gators: Defense clamps down on Central Catholic in 49-39 win for Class AAAA boys title

March 4, 2012 11:55 am
  • Gateway is the first team to win back-to-back titles in Class AAAA since New Castle in the late 1990s.
    Gateway is the first team to win back-to-back titles in Class AAAA since New Castle in the late 1990s.
  • Gateway's Tyler Scott dunks against Central Catholic in the Class AAAA championship game Saturday night at Palumbo Center.
    Gateway's Tyler Scott dunks against Central Catholic in the Class AAAA championship game Saturday night at Palumbo Center.
  • Gateway's Thomas Kromka blocks a shot by Central Catholic's Mike Anselmo.
    Gateway's Thomas Kromka blocks a shot by Central Catholic's Mike Anselmo.
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You can marvel at Gateway's athleticism, big leapers and pizzazz on offense. But the Gators did a double take on the WPIAL Class AAAA championship because of defense.

Gateway used a superb defensive effort to defeat Central Catholic, 49-39, in the title game Saturday night at Palumbo Center.

Not only did Gateway become the first team to win consecutive Class AAAA titles since New Castle won three in a row from 1997-99, the Gators had a defensive performance for the record books. The 39 points was the second-lowest offensive output in 29 seasons of Class AAAA title games. New Castle held North Allegheny to 32 in '99.

"We played some defense, didn't we?" said Gateway coach Mitch Adams, whose team lifted its record to 20-6. "We played as hard as we could and we played tough. This game and the Butler game [in the semifinals] was probably the best defense we've played."

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Barnett Harris, a 6-foot-10 senior center, led Gateway with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior guard Tyler Scott added 13, including a ferocious one-handed dunk in the second half. Sophomore forward Tom Kromka had 10 points.

"It starts with the will. Do you have the will to play defense?" Harris said. "Then it's the want. Do you want to? Then it's the desire. Do you have the desire to stop your man."

Any way you say it, Gateway's man-to-man defense was excellent. It also helped that Central Catholic (15-11) shot the ball horribly. The Vikings made only 33 percent (15 of 46) and were 1 of 11 in the second quarter when they scored only three points. Gateway shot 50 percent (19 of 38) for the game.

Central Catholic senior guard Lincoln Davis, who averages 20.2 points, had only eight points, the first time this year he was held below double figures. He was 2 of 8 from the field 4 of 8 from the free-throw line.

"The last two contests against Nate Snodgrass [of Butler] and then Lincoln Davis in this game, that's a heckuva effort defensively," Adams said.

For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975. Twitter @mwhiteburgh
First Published 2012-03-04 11:40:20

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