Carrick captures City League title for 1st time since 1994

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Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 6:26 PM


The last time Carrick won a City League championship, head coach Walter Milinski was an assistant coach for the Raiders as they won back-to-back titles in 1993-94.

Now, 27 years later, Milinski has a City League title of his own. Behind 14 points from senior guard Vashon Howard and 12 more from junior Ashton Giannetti, the Raiders (7-4) took an early lead over rival Brashear (5-6) and never looked back, cruising to a 53-31 victory on their home court.

“It has been unbelievable the way this season has gone with teams testing positive and wearing the masks and everything. It has just been an unusual season,” Milinski said. “What can I say, we won the championship and I’m just so proud of the kids. They are the ones that deserve everything.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this season strange, it didn’t make winning the City League any less special.

While recovering from knee surgery and some back problems, Milinski didn’t coach last season and decided to retire from teaching as the Raiders went 4-17 during the regular season. The Raiders honored him by naming their gymnasium after him.

So, not only did Milinski get to win a City League title on Carrick’s home court, but he got to do it in the gym that bears his name.

“That makes it so much more special,” Milinski said, “because we got to play the city championship in the Walt Milinski Gymnasium and we won the city championship.”

The Raiders controlled the game from the start Wednesday as they jumped out to a 5-3 lead after senior guard Amaru Caldwell hit a 3-pointer on the right wing.

They held a five-point lead after the first quarter and a nine-point lead at halftime before blowing it open in the second half.

The Raiders closed out the third quarter on a 7-0 run and took a 17-point lead into the final frame before cruising to victory.

“This feels good. It feels really good,” Caldwell said. “We could’ve made it in ninth grade but we lost in the playoffs. We could’ve in 10th grade, but lost in the playoffs to Brashear. So it feels good now to beat them in the championship. They are our rivals, so it always feels good to beat them.”

The teams played twice earlier in the season, and the Raiders came away with big victories, winning both games by a combined 35 points. So, after beating Westinghouse by 15 points on Monday, Caldwell said the Raiders were pretty confident heading into the championship.

“When we got into the locker room after beating Westinghouse, we all said we were going to beat (Brashear),” Caldwell said. “We just had to come and execute it.”

The Raiders executed to perfection as they threw a 2-3 Syracuse-type zone at the Bulls that kept them out of their rhythm all game long.

Eight players scored for the Bulls, but none reached double digits. Jacob Davis and Sincere Kimbrough led the way with six.

“This year, they don’t have a lot of great outside shooters, and this was the third time that we’ve played them, and all three times we used that zone,” Milinski said. “We didn’t want to play man to man. We wanted to make them shoot because that’s really not their game.”

Allderdice (10-5, 9-0) was excluded from the City League playoffs because of positive coronavirus tests at the school. Just before the game on Wednesday, Pittsburgh Public Schools decided Carrick and Brashear would play for the City League title, but Allderdice could return for the state playoffs.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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