No. 3 North Catholic boys knock off Aliquippa in Class 3A semifinals

Monday, February 25, 2019 | 11:28 PM

North Catholic was aware of the intense defensive pressure it would face Monday in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals against Aliquippa.

But the Trojans weathered several storms and came away with a 61-49 victory over the Quips at North Allegheny.

No. 3 North Catholic (21-4) will face top-seeded Lincoln Park in the WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball title game at 9 p.m. Thursday at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

The Trojans will be seeking their fifth WPIAL championship in the past 11 seasons.

Issac DeGregorio, in his first season at North Catholic, scored 23 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter.

“He hit those three in a row, and the last one was a step-back which was an impressive shot,” said his father, Trojans coach Dave DeGregorio. “It got us extended a little bit. We turned it over a couple times. They did a nice job faceguarding Issac and keeping the ball out of his hands, and he got frustrated. But then our other guys got comfortable.”

Aliquippa had taken a 32-31 lead early in the third quarter on a steal and drive by Will Gipson.

But DeGregorio quickly fired in a 3-pointer and another after M.J. Devonshire had tied the game at 36.

“I know what I have to do to help my teammates,” the younger DeGregorio said. “I knocked down those 3s and my teammates kept picking me up, even after I made a couple of mistakes and had a couple of turnovers at the start.”

No. 2 Aliquippa (16-8) was seeking a shot at its 13th WPIAL title, which would have tied Farrell for the top spot in league history.

The Quips were down seven in the first quarter and roared back to take a 17-13 lead by the end of the period, thanks in big part to three blocked shots by Zuriah Fisher.

The Trojans took a nine-point lead late in the second quarter, but Aliquippa came back to take the lead early in the second half.

“We didn’t play a full 32 minutes tonight,” Quips coach Dwight Hines said. “We came out pretty energetic, then all of the sudden it died down. They had a couple of putbacks and hit wide open 3s, and that set us back a bit. We chipped away a couple times, but they kept putting good shots up.”

DeGregorio’s final 3-pointer of the third quarter was part of a 10-0 Trojans run to end the period in front, 49-38.

Devonshire, hampered by foul trouble early, scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to cut the Trojans lead to 49-44, but two straight baskets by Jackson Paschall put North Catholic back in control.

“We got on the floor for some loose balls and got some tips, and that’s what you have to do when you face a team like this,” coach DeGregorio said. “Their guys had some hustle plays, too. They always play hard.”

Paschall added 14 points for the Trojans, and Zack Rocco gathered seven hard-fought rebounds.

Devonshire led the Quips with 13 points and Will Gipson had 11.

Fisher collected eight rebounds.

The North Catholic victory also secured a PIAA spot for Deer Lakes, the team North Catholic beat in the quarterfinals.

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