Aliquippa tops Fort Cherry to earn another shot at a state title in Hershey

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024 | 8:39 PM


Cameron Lindsey doesn’t eat much chocolate, but he sure loves making trips to Hershey.

No matter what sport he’s playing.

Lindsey, a Pitt football recruit, showed his soft touch around the rim on the basketball court Tuesday night, scoring 18 points to help Aliquippa defeat Fort Cherry, 65-53, in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals at Pine-Richland.

With the win, the Quips secured a spot in a state championship game for the third consecutive season. They’ll face District 2’s Holy Cross in the 2A state final at 2 p.m. Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

“It never gets old,” Quips coach Nick Lakcovich said. “Hopefully, we can get out there and close the deal this time.”

Aliquippa handled Fort Cherry, 55-36, in the WPIAL semifinals Feb. 28, but the rematch was much more of a grind.

Lindsey did most of his damage in the second quarter and boosted the Quips after a slow start.

Fort Cherry (23-7) led 15-9 after one quarter and limited Aliquippa (25-5) to only three made field goals.

Lindsey scored eight points during a 13-1 run for the Quips to begin the second. Josh Pratt made a layup while being fouled and made the free throw, which made it 20-18. Aliquippa never trailed again.

“We started out rough, but we just kept playing,” Lindsey said. “They came ready. The first game, we pressured them a lot more and were able to get a lot more turnovers. This game (Fort Cherry) didn’t have as many turnovers. They forced us to slow down, but we just had to play a lot more half-court offense.”

Pratt and Brandon Banks sank 3-pointers and Aliquippa went into halftime leading 32-25.

“In the first quarter, we were the aggressor, but in the second quarter, they were,” Fort Cherry coach Eugene Briggs said. “If they don’t have Cameron Lindsey, we have a much better chance to win that game, because the physical disparity with him is hard to deal with.”

The Rangers made a run late in the third, and after a Blake Sweder 3-pointer, cut the lead down to 45-41, but they never got closer than that.

On a couple of possessions in the fourth quarter, Aliquippa went to a four corners offense, something it rarely does, and it worked.

After passing the ball around for over a minute, Quentin Goode drove the lane and was fouled as he made a layup. Goode converted at the free throw to extend the Quips’ lead to 55-47.

“Fort Cherry brought it out of us, ” Lackovich said of deploying a stall offense. “The way they attacked us just dictated what we did next.”

The Quips went 9 for 11 from the free throw line in the fourth to salt the game away.

It was the final game in a fantastic career for Fort Cherry point guard Derek Errett.

Errett led the Rangers with a game-high 20 points.

“In the last four years, we’ve averaged 20 wins a season because we have a great point guard,” Briggs said. “That’s how you win. He takes care of the ball, distributes the ball and plays great defense. He does a little bit of everything.”

Shane Cornali had 16 for the Rangers.

Goode and Pratt scored 12 apiece for the Quips.

Aliquippa will try to win a state title after falling in its last two attempts. It’s one last thing Lindsey wants on his resume before he finishes his high school career.

“That’s the only thing that’s eluded our class since we first made it to Hershey our sophomore year,” Lindsey said. “Now we just got to go try and finish and get the job done this time.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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