Allderdice boys make it a 5-peat in City League
Saturday, February 17, 2018 | 5:36 PM
No two seasons are alike, but the last five in City League boys basketball have ended with Allderdice raising the trophy.
Jackson Blaufeld scored a game-high 21 points, fellow junior guard Bobby Clifford added 18, and the Dragons became just the second team to win five consecutive City League titles with a 66-46 win over Westinghouse on Saturday at Petersen Events Center.
The Dragons (22-2) led throughout to win their 19th consecutive game, and they joined Westinghouse's teams from 1950-54 as the city's only five-in-a-row champs. But comparing this group to some of their dominant teams of recent years, coach Buddy Valinsky said this year's team might execute the best of the five.
“They're not as athletic as the other four (years), but yet, they win. They do the little things to win, where maybe the other teams, with their physical skills, didn't have to do it,” Valinsky said. “These guys do all the fundamentals correctly to make it work. That's what makes them special, because they listen and learn.”
While the Dragons' offense was less-than-perfect against tough pressure defense by Westinghouse (16-6), Allderdice executed a strong defensive scheme to slow the Bulldogs and 6-foot-11 center James Ellis.
“We wanted to run past their press, so we could set up our offense, and then we wanted to stop James because he's a killer down low,” Clifford said.
“We were switching (defenses) a little bit in the first half,” Blaufeld said. “But at halftime, (Valinsky) said we're going to stick with this zone and really trust it, and make sure we get stops and rebounds.”
Ellis finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds, and Troy Lanier led Westinghouse with 13 points.
The Bulldogs were able to get to the free-throw line often, making 21 of 33 free throws, and that helped to keep things close. Allderdice only led 26-19 at half, but the Dragons scored the first seven points of the third quarter, and Westinghouse was unable to score consistently enough to mount a comeback.
“I think defensively, we did a good job. It was just we could not put the ball in the hole,” Westinghouse coach Eugene Wilson said.
“James Ellis was getting a bit frustrated because they were double-teaming him every time he touched the ball. So at half, we made an adjustment where we just kind of use him as a decoy. We wanted to get our guards driving, and Troy Lanier did a good job of that. … But it just wasn't enough.”
Both teams advance to the PIAA tournament, Allderdice in Class 6A and Westinghouse in Class 3A.
Allderdice hopes to ride its experience on a run through the state tournament, much in the same way their experience helped them shake off a bumpy first half against Westinghouse.
“(Westinghouse) didn't have a kid who played in this championship game last year. We had six,” Valinsky said. “Some of it's overblown, but I think in this type of game, the atmosphere of the Pete, it can overwhelm you. Our kids, they embrace it.”
On the Bulldogs' side, a chance to make some noise in the state tournament, much like their appearance in the City League final, is an opportunity to keep building their school's program in Wilson's second season.
“I think it brings a positive perspective toward schools in Pittsburgh Public Schools and toward Westinghouse. We hear so much negativity about our area and where the high school is placed,” Wilson said. “This is an opportunity for them to be on a stage to show some positivity about the area and the kids that are bred in that area.”
Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com
More High School Basketball• Boys basketball preview: Quaker Valley looking to run with experienced roster
• Girls basketball preview: Shaler to lean on tenacious defense, team speed
• Boys basketball preview: Revamped Shaler roster works to get up to speed
• Penn Hills boys maintain high expectations under new head coach
• Girls basketball preview: Penn Hills has experienced roster, playoff aspirations