Kiski Area boys make late run to get past Gateway in Section 3-5A

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Friday, January 28, 2022 | 10:00 PM


With four minutes left in Friday’s Section 3-5A boys basketball matchup between Gateway and Kiski Area, the visiting Gators held a one-point advantage and hoped to make a run to put the game on ice.

But the Cavaliers wanted none of that.

Kiski Area outscored Gateway, 15-6, down the stretch in the fourth quarter to pull away for a key 64-56 victory.

“We just asked the guys to give it everything they had those last couple of minutes, especially on the defensive end,” Cavaliers coach Corey Smith said.

“We needed to get stops. We worked on team rebounding the past couple of days. We were crashing the boards, and I’m pretty sure we outrebounded them. That was a big part of the gameplan. ”

Kiski Area stopped a two-game losing streak that included Tuesday’s 92-73 loss to McKeesport. The Cavaliers evened their section record at 4-4 and remained in the playoff conversation.

“We just knew we had to refocus and bounce back from that loss to McKeesport,” said senior guard James Pearson, who scored a game-best 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

“Every win from now on is so important. This one was big for us.”

Gateway, which came into the game in first place in the section with a 5-1 record, saw its six-game winning streak snapped.

“Kiski came and hustled, and we just got outworked tonight,” said Gateway assistant Ed Meli, who took over head coaching duties for Alvis Rogers, who was away from the team for family reasons.

“Down the stretch, we get a one-point lead, and we throw the ball away. We made critical mistakes at critical times in the game. I told the guys that we scored 56 points, which is good enough to win on most nights. We just didn’t get it done on the defensive end.”

Kiski Area and Gateway don’t have to wait long for the rematch, as the teams meet again Monday at Gateway. The teams originally were scheduled to play there Jan. 4, but the game was postponed because of covid issues with the Gators.

“Coach Rogers always says we can’t look in the rearview mirror,” Meli said. “We have to keep looking ahead. We’re still in a really good spot and are in control of our own destiny. If we win out, we win the section title. That starts Monday.”

Lebryn Smith finished with just four points, but two of them came on a jumper with 3 minutes left that gave Kiski Area the lead for good.

Isaiah Gonzalez, who finished with 14 points, followed with a layup to extend the lead to 53-50.

Before the late surge by the Cavaliers, the teams traded the lead 17 times.

Gateway owned its largest lead — six points at 13-7 — at the end of the first quarter. Will Kromka, who led the Gators with 14 points, capped a 10-0 run with back-to-back baskets.

But Kiski Area got a 3-pointer from Logan Johnson and a layup and free throw from Gonzalez to open the second quarter as the Cavaliers pulled even at 13.

Jaydon Carr added 11 points for Gateway, and Kaleb Pryor just missed double digits with nine.

Dom DiNinno, Brayden Dunmire and Logan Johnson each scored seven for the Cavaliers.

“This win feels amazing, but we just have to come back Monday prepared and hungry to do it again,” Pearson said.

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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