Aliquippa Makes WPIAL History In Class AA Title Win

Saturday, February 27, 2016 | 4:11 PM

Senior Kaezon Pugh has been in a number of pressure situations as a member of the Aliquippa Quips football team, but he found himself in a tight spot on the basketball floor on Saturday afternoon.

The Pitt recruit shined once again as he nailed two free throws in the final seconds to place No. 1 Aliquippa (25-0) in the WPIAL history books once again with a 49-45 victory over No. 2 Lincoln Park (22-4) at the Petersen Events Center.

The victory in the Class AA championship is the 12th basketball title in school history. The Quips become only the second team in the 100-plus year history of the league to win back to back undefeated championships. The other was New Castle, which won three straight titles with an undefeated record from 2012-2014.

The win was the 46th straight for Aliquippa against WPIAL foes, as the only loss since the start of last season for the Quips came in last year’s state title game to Conwell-Egan. Senior Chucky Humphries led the Quips with 22 points and dominated the boards with 18 rebounds.

The Quips were able to hold off a furious Lincoln Park comeback. The Leopards trailed 30-14 at the half, but managed to come back in the fourth quarter. Junior Nelly Cummings, a Division 1 recruit himself, led all scorers with 23 points, including a pair of fourth quarter three-pointers.

Aliquippa led 15-10 after a quarter and used a huge two-handed slam by Humphries to pull away in the first half. Lincoln Park slowly cut into the halftime deficit on a three-pointer by freshman Keeno Holmes and an and-one by senior Zay Craft. The Leopards came up empty on the final three possessions of the third and Aliquippa led, 36-26, heading into the final eight minutes.

It was time for Lincoln Park to make a run. A pair of three-pointers by Cummings cut the lead to 43-38. After Humphries split a pair of free throws, Holmes nailed a step back three from the top of the key to make it a one possession game at 44-41. The Leopards had a chance to tie on a Cummings steal, but he missed the layup. Humphries made a pair of free throws as Aliquippa took a five point lead.

Lincoln Park committed a pair of offensive fouls in the final minute. Senior Dermotti Welling was whistled for a bad pick. Humphries split a pair then Cummings fouled out on a push off with 38.7 seconds remaining. Senior Jassir Jordan missed another pair of tosses to keep Lincoln Park alive. Senior Nick Aloi answered the challenge, scoring on a drive, Jordan was called for stepping on the sideline. With Cummings out of the game, Welling converted a rebound to make the score 47-45. The Leopards could not steal the inbound pass and Welling was forced to foul Pugh, setting up the senior to be the hero once again.

Pugh finished with 6 points and 6 rebounds. Jordan scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The Quips shot 12 of 38 from the field and 22 of 33 from the line. Aliquippa also won the board battle at 41-25. The Quips will face the fourth seed from District 6 in the PIAA tournament next Saturday.

The Leopards advance to PIAA play where they will meet the District 9 runner up. Lincoln Park shot 17 of 50 for the game and were averaging 75 points per game. Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich said that his goal every game is to hold the opposition to 40 points, the Quips allow just 41 per game, the best defense in Class AA. The coach added if anyone thought the defense is tough during the season, one should see the Quips practice. And that tough defense was done without fouling, the Leopards were only 5 of 7 from the line.

Score By Quarter:
Aliquippa Quips  15 – 15 – 6 – 13 = 49
Lincoln Park Leopards 10 – 4 – 12 – 19 = 45

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