Gateway boys build confidence after WPIAL playoff victory

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Sunday, March 7, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Gateway boys basketball coach Alvis Rogers appreciated the spirited atmosphere that an increased number of fans, including student sections, brought to the Gators’ WPIAL Class 5A first-round game against Albert Gallatin last Wednesday at the Furrie Sports Complex.

Two days earlier, the Gov. Tom Wolf administration raised gathering limits on indoor events.

“The guys drew a lot of energy from that,” Rogers said after No. 8 Gateway outlasted No. 9 Albert Gallatin, 62-59.

“It definitely helped us at the end. We started making some mental mistakes that allowed them to make it close. That was our goal from the start, to be mentally ready. We lost that the final two or three minutes of the game. But, to the guys’ credit, they hung on, and we got the win. We had guys, including freshmen, come in and make some big free throws and big shots for us. It took contributions from everybody. It was a good win for those guys.”

Gateway finished the regular season 9-7 overall and was 6-4 in Section 3-5A. The Gators turned their focus to the postseason after a tough loss to Class 6A North Allegheny in the regular-season finale Feb. 26.

“We felt great heading into (the playoff opener),” said junior 6-foot-7 forward Ryan Greggerson, who led a balanced scoring attack against Albert Gallatin with 13 points.

“We got three really good practices coming into the game. Our confidence was really high.”

Gateway’s first-round win propelled them into the quarterfinals and a matchup Saturday at No. 1 Chartiers Valley. Chartiers Valley won that game, 53-47, with Greggerson leading Gateway with 13 points and Jaydon Carr adding 12 points.

Gateway and Chartiers Valley last met in the 2016-17 Class 5A quarterfinals. The No. 3 Colts beat the No. 6 Gators that day, 46-43.

“This season, we started with a goal to go as far as we could in the playoffs,” Greggerson said. “It was great to get that win (against Albert Gallatin). It was a great team effort.”

“We just made sure we talked and communicated and played hard each possession, offense and defense.”

Freshman Bryson Pavlik made his playoff debut for the Gators and finished with 12 points, including four key free throws in the fourth quarter.

Junior Will Kromka and sophomore Carr each scored 10 points.

“It’s nice to have that balance, making it hard for teams to defend,” Rogers said. “We try hard to do that every game. Tonight, that was a good example of it.”

Kromka left the game at the midway point of the fourth quarter when he injured his wrist on a fall while attempting a layup. He didn’t return.

Gateway, in the playoffs for the second year in a row after missing out in 2019, snapped a three-game playoff losing streak.

The Gators built their largest lead of the fourth quarter, 56-43, with 3:29 left on a layup from senior guard Quincy Germany.

Albert Gallatin closed the game on a 16-6 run. After Germany came up empty on a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left and Gateway up three, the Colonials played for the final shot.

But a 3-point attempt from about 25 feet was off the mark as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“It feels great that, first, the guys got an opportunity to play at all this year,” Rogers said.

“It’s extra special with us making the quarterfinals. I’ve always said that there’s something special about this team. They had a couple rough patches at the start of the season, but they stayed together and were focused on getting better. This has been a resilient group.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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