Gateway boys basketball pounces on Kiski Area

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 | 10:09 PM

Gateway wasted no time setting the ground rules for its fifth consecutive boys basketball victory, racing to a 21-point lead against homestanding Kiski Area and rolling to an overwhelming 65-43 victory Tuesday night.

While Gateway coach Alvis Rogers was delighted with the scenario, Kiski Area’s Corey Smith watched helplessly as his Cavaliers couldn’t match Gateway’s intensity.

Kaleb Pryor and Taili Thompson led No. 4 Gateway (8-3, 3-0) with 19 points each as the Gators kept pace with Franklin Regional (9-3, 3-0) atop Section 3-5A in the WPIAL.

Franklin Regional notched its fourth consecutive triumph, winning at Latrobe, 52-39.

“We wanted to set the tone early with our defense, and we did,” Rogers said. “We played very good defense on their shooters, and our offense came alive, as well, during that process. We got easy baskets, and that really helped. But our focus coming in was defending.”

Pryor scored 10 of Gateway’s 22 first-quarter points as the Gators built leads of 20-0 and 22-1 before settling for a 22-4 advantage heading to the second.

A 17-11 edge gave Gateway a 39-15 halftime lead.

Kiski Area (5-8, 1-2) missed its first 11 field-goal attempts before scoring its first point on a free throw by Jacob Musselman with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the first quarter.

Musselman also scored the Cavaliers’ first field goal with 8.3 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Gateway left little doubt about the outcome when the game resumed in the third quarter, outscoring Kiski Area, 18-5, to take a 57-20 lead.

Rogers substituted freely in the fourth quarter, allowing Kiski Area to outscore its visitors 23-8 and sending Rogers into a bit of a frenzy as he called a quick timeout with a lineup of reserves on the floor.

“I was a little upset because they didn’t bring the energy that we wanted,” Rogers said. “I realize when you get a big lead like that, it can be tough to keep up the intensity. But, that’s what I was looking for.”

When play resumed, Rogers wasted no time putting his first team back into the game. He eventually went back to his bench with several minutes remaining.

Tra Williams added 15 points for Gateway, which used the game as a tuneup for a game against visiting Franklin Regional on Friday.

“Overall, we played well,” Rogers said. “I’d like to think we’ve got a pretty decent team, but I don’t know what other people think. We have good athleticism and good quickness, and tonight we really shared the ball. We really got after it. We’ve been focusing on it. We’ve been emphasizing to work together, play together.

“I think we can get better.”

Meanwhile, Smith, the former Kiski Area star in his second season as coach at his alma mater, saw his team fall for the third time in a row.

Throughout the game, a visibly upset Smith continued to yell out directions to his players. He left the court afterwards, headed towards a locker room area and did not return.

Noah Thimons led Kiski Area with 15 points, all on 3-point shots, including four during the Cavaliers’ high-scoring fourth quarter.

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