Northgate adds to breakout season with playoff win over Jeannette

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | 10:41 PM


It has been more than 10 years since Northgate won a WPIAL playoff basketball game, coach Cam Williams said.

But the way the Flames played Tuesday during the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, they might be in the 2023 tournament for an extended time.

Sparked by the duo of senior Stephen Goetz and junior Josh Williams, Northgate was able to pull away from Jeannette in the second half and cruised to an 89-65 victory.

Goetz scored 35 points, draining five 3-pointers, and Williams had 31 and, in the process, scored the 1,000th point of his career.

No. 6 Northgate (17-6) plays No. 14 Clairton, which stunned No. 3 Fort Cherry, 53-46, in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Jeannette (13-8) played without leading scorer Giovanni Merola, whose appeal to play in the playoffs was denied on Feb. 17 by the PIAA. Merola, who averaged 16 points per game, transferred to Jeannette from Penn-Trafford before the season.

Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said he was disappointed with the way his team played after two encouraging scrimmages against Norwin and Burrell.

“I did not expect us to come out flat as we did,” Batts said. “We were flat on offense, and we turned the ball over too many times. They didn’t do anything that we didn’t see. They played well and shot it well on their court.

“We didn’t take care of the ball in the first half. We had 14 turnovers, and we opened the second half with two more that they converted into points.”

Northgate (17-6) led 24-12 after one quarter as Goetz hit two 3-pointers, and Williams scored eight points. But Jeannette righted the ship in the second quarter, got a pair of 3-pointers from Isaiah Mallich and six points from Shane Mickens and cut the lead to 27-26 midway through the second quarter.

Northgate closed the half on a 9-2 run to grab a 36-28 lead at halftime.

“Our press worked well in the first quarter, but we got into foul trouble in the second quarter and they made shots,” Williams said. “When you have a one-two punch like Stephen and Josh, you’re tough to beat.”

Northgate opened the second half on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 43-28, and Jeannette never recovered.

Mickens scored 12 of Jeannette’s 19 points in the third quarter but fouled out after he received two technical fouls.

Mallich and Mickens scored 18 points each for Jeannette. Kymon’E Brown scored 13 and Noah Sanders 10 for the Jayhawks.

“We never got back on track in the second half,” Batts said. “We came into the game giving up 16 points already. We still had to play the game.”

Williams said he was proud of his team’s effort and how far they’ve come since he was hired in 2020.

“We won four games my first season and 11 last year,” Williams said. “Now we’re in the quarterfinals and I have a lot of these players back. It’s an exciting time.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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