Obama Academy boys win 1st City League title, knock off Allderdice

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Saturday, February 15, 2020 | 4:23 PM


Allderdice’s City League boys basketball reign has ended.

An strong defensive effort and solid fourth-quarter foul shooting contributed to Obama Academy’s 50-39 upset victory over the Dragons, who were seeking their seventh consecutive league title.

The Eagles (14-8) soared to a 9-0 lead and scored 14 of their 21 points from the free-throw line in the final quarter to seal the victory at Petersen Events Center.

It was the first basketball title for Obama, in its ninth year of existence.

The Eagles had a 29-28 lead after three periods but outscored the Dragons, 21-11, in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve prepared for this,” Obama coach Devas Simmons said. “We try to present situations in practice. Assistant coaches Naron Jackson and Terry Grate do a fantastic job with these young men. They created this mantra. It’s fantastic to watch these young men perform the way they were supposed to.”

After three previous tries in the City title game, Simmons finally experienced a win.

Sean Snead led the way with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

His secret to success? Practicing while many others are sleeping.

Said Snead: “Ever since the summer working out, every day about 4 o’ clock in the morning, hooping outside by myself in the dark in the west side of Pittsburgh, Sheraden. I knew we could get this.”

When Snead scored on a put-back with 4 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first quarter, Obama had a 9-0 lead.

“I thought Obama came out and played aggressively on the defensive end,” Allderdice coach Devin Crummie said. “Getting an early lead in a big game like this helps.”

Allderdice narrowed the gap after falling behind by nine. The Eagles led 19-17 at the half. That set the stage for a third quarter where the lead changed hands five times.

A basket by Sean Graves a minute into the fourth period gave the Dragons their final lead, 30-29.

The game was still up for grabs with Obama leading 37-34 with less than three minutes to go. An off-balance scoop shot by Sayon Bennett extended the lead to five.

On the next Obama possession, it appeared the Eagles might run some time off the clock. But freshman Tariq Francis stepped back and confidently sank a 3-pointer to give Obama a 42-34 lead.

“Coach trusted me, and I trusted myself,” Francis said. “That felt good when that shot fell in.”

Said Simmons: “We do not give anyone the red light. At certain times, though, we want to hold it. But Sean kept rebounding hard, and we kept playing defense hard and attack, attack and attack the rim and keep getting free throws.”

Francis’ basket was the final one of the game for Obama.

“They did a god job in knocking down those free throws,” Crummie said. “You have to give them a lot of credit for maintaining their passionate play.”

Tony Henderson led the Dragons (18-6) with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Blake Haber also had eight rebounds for Allderdice.

Both teams will be off until the week of Feb. 24, when the PIAA play-in games begin.

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