Blistering 32-point quarter carries new-look North Allegheny past Seneca Valley

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021 | 1:18 AM


North Allegheny’s boys basketball team hasn’t reached triple digits in the past five seasons, which isn’t all that surprising since scoring 100 points is rare in the WPIAL.

But this year’s team has a chance.

“We’re trying to put up as many as we can,” NA senior Greg Habib said. “Whether that’s 100 or 120, we don’t care.”

North Allegheny scored 32 points in the first quarter alone Tuesday night, a blistering start for the Tigers who defeated host Seneca Valley, 91-68. Under first-year coach Dan DeRose, North Allegheny wants to push the tempo. It helped that Seneca Valley also wanted to run.

Habib scored a team-high 25 points, Robby Jones had 19 and Matt McDonough added 10. North Allegheny (2-1, 2-0) used 10 players in the first three quarters and they all scored at least one basket in the Section 1-6A win.

“I told them when I got here that we had a good chance of being one of the highest-scoring teams in the WPIAL,” DeRose said, “if they just run like I want them to and do the things I’m asking them to do. But we’ve also got to learn to do it on the defensive end — not just worry about outscoring everybody. ”

Cole Brooks led Seneca Valley (2-1, 1-1) with 27 points and Connor Lyczek had 21.

North Allegheny scored 86 points in Friday’s win over North Hills. The team’s past two wins are a change from a season ago when the Tigers averaged 55 points per game.

Against Seneca Valley, they had 51 in the first half.

“That’s what we look to do every game,” Habib said. “We want to be that fast-paced team. Get a bucket, get right back on you and score again. That’s our goal.”

Jones sparked NA’s offense with three 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a pair in the opening three minutes to lead 8-0. But outside shooting isn’t the team’s offensive focus. DeRose prefers points in the paint.

The Tigers finished Tuesday with five 3-pointers and 22 baskets inside the arc.

“My whole (philosophy) has always been about shooting percentage,” DeRose said. “Shoot as many layups as possible.”

Seneca Valley kept pace well into the second quarter behind seniors Brooks and Lyczek, who combined for 48 of their team’s 68 points. The Raiders trailed by only two points with a minute left before halftime.

But nobody on the Raiders’ roster besides Brooks and Lyczek scored more than five points, allowing North Allegheny to eventually pull away. The Tigers closed the second quarter on a 13-2 run to lead 51-38 at half.

Their lead was 65-52 after three.

“Connor and Cole have given us consistent scoring in all three games,” said Seneca Valley coach Kevin Trost, who’s searching for more secondary scoring. “I feel like we have a lot of guys within our 10-man rotation who have that potential. We haven’t really gotten it yet, but I think we will.”

Seneca Valley tried to trap North Allegheny’s ball-handlers, but the Tigers broke the press, leading to some open layups. Consecutive layups by Connor Casten, Jack Christy and Greg Phillips fueled a 10-0 run for NA in the first quarter.

“To their credit, I thought they were great,” Trost said. “They really, really carved up our pressure and got a ton of easy baskets.”

But it wasn’t always easy. North Allegheny was leading 36-24 early in the second quarter when its offense briefly stalled. The Tigers scored only one basket in the next five minutes as Seneca Valley cut the lead to two.

With a minute left in the half, Seneca Valley trailed 38-36 after the Raiders’ Connor Oros made a 3-pointer from the corner, part of a quick 7-0 run.

DeRose saw his team getting tired.

“What I tried to get them to understand is that with the style we play, we’re going to tend to get a little bit tired at times,” he said.

He saw his players missing layups and settling for 3s, but NA never lost the lead. They responded with a 13-2 run in the final minute before half.

“We just had to dig down and I’m glad they bounced back,” DeRose said. “That showed me a lot that they didn’t cave in.”

North Allegheny had quarters of 32, 19, 14 and 26 points.

Only one WPIAL team has scored 100 so far this season. New Castle reached the century mark Tuesday night. North Allegheny last scored 100 in the 2014-15 season, but this year’s roster sees that number as a real possibility.

“I think we proved tonight that we can,” Habib said.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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