Brashear boys look to dethrone 4-time defending City League champion Allderdice
Friday, February 22, 2019 | 5:40 PM
When longtime rivals Allderdice and Brashear take to the court Saturday afternoon and play for the City League boys basketball championship, there will be no secrets or surprises, just straight-up basketball.
“We concentrate on what we do well,” Allderdice coach Buddy Valinsky said. “Our focus over the last five games was to focus on defense. Our last five games, we’ve given up under 40 points per game. We score a lot of points, but I think that our kids play team defense.”
Valinsky will lead Allderdice (19-4, 10-0) into Pitt’s Petersen Events Saturday afternoon where his Dragons will face Brashear (9-9, 7-3) at 2 p.m. for City League bragging rights. The winner moves on to the PIAA Class 6A playoff bracket.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play them a third time,” Brashear coach Carey White said. “The seniors are a different breed this time of year because they don’t want it to end.”
The Bulls are coming off a 59-42 win over Carrick in Tuesday’s semifinal game. Saturday marks Brashear’s first title-game appearance since 2008, when it lost to Schenley, 72-63. Brashear’s last City League title came in 1995.
“I’ve been here for the past six or seven years, and we build and try every year to get back to the City championships,” White said. “Our kids have gotten better. We’re playing very well.”
The key word there is “we’re.” If the Bulls are going to have a chance against the four-time defending champion Dragons, they’re going to have spread the ball around and play team basketball. A key note in the semifinal win over Carrick was that four Bulls scored in double figures.
“Carey White has been around along time; you know they’re well coached,” Valinsky said. “They’ll run something different than the last few times. You just have to be prepared for everything.”
The Bulls are averaging 56.2 points and giving up 61.1.
Brashear is led by 5-foot-10 junior shooter Cheron Collington (18 ppg). Senior forward Rason Conner averages 10 points. Seniors Jarrell Stevens, DaQuay Brown and Demetrius Roach round out the Bulls’ starting five. Roach, a 6-1 forward is hovering around 10 rebounds per game.
“We‘ve got to be smart, our shot selection has to be on key and turnovers got to be down,” White said. “They thrive on teams that turn the ball over and take bad shots.”
The Dragons have dominated the rivalry recently. January 2013 was the last time Brasher downed Allderdice, 61-54. Since then, it’s been smooth sailing for the Dragons.
The Dragons scored a convincing 67-25 win over Obama Academy in the semifinals. Allderdice has been the team to beat in the City League for nearly a decade, having won eight of the last nine titles. The Dragons are experienced, battle tested and ready.
“There’s not many games where we’re the underdog,” Valinksy said. “I’m taking everyone’s best shots, and a lot of times I’m taking it in their gym or a neutral gym.”
Allderdice pulled off large-margin wins over Brashear twice this season, including a 70-46 victory to finish off the regular season schedule. Allderdice downed Westinghouse, 66-46, in last season’s championship game. The Dragons have a little bit more on their minds. The sting from last season’s 52-50 loss to WPIAL rival Pine-Richland in the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals still stings.
“I sensed the other night, against Obama (Academy) another level of intensity,” Valinsky said. “I noticed that the other night when we took the floor a different energy because these kids know this could be the last time we take the floor.”
Allderdice averages 71.4 points while giving up just 49.2. Both were tops in the City League this season.
Four members of the Dragons starting five are over 6-foot. Junior guard Sean Graves is 5-7.
“Graves is quick, tough, likes to play defense,” Valinsky said. “He’s been the big change defensively, and it starts up top, and he’s increased his role.”
The Dragons are led by senior guard Jackson Blaufeld, a 6-foot-3 Dartmouth commit, and fellow 6-3 senior Bobby Clifford. Both average around 19 points.
“Jackson usually comes out with the most fire and is a kid who is always ready to play,” Valinsky said.
Two-sport standout Dalen Dugger stands at 6-7 and has quickly become a force in just his first year playing basketball; he’s averaging 13 points. Senior 6-5 orward Terrell Childs rounds out the starting five.
Even with the height disadvantage, Carey likes his team’s speed and the fact the Bulls are playing their best basketball of the season.
“If we keep it close in the third and fourth quarters, it’s going to be interesting down there,” White said. “Anything can happen; the City of Pittsburgh loves the underdog.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.