Quips Quest For Perfection Ends With Loss in PIAA AA State Title Game
Saturday, March 21, 2015 | 4:53 PM
Aliquippa won its first 29 games of the 2014-15 season, but the Quips suffered their lone defeat to Conwell-Egan Catholic 62-51 in the PIAA Class AA Boys Championship at the Giant Center in Hershey.
After falling behind by double digits in the first half, Aliquippa staged a furious comeback bid in the second half, frequently trimming the deficit to two points. The Eagles never relinquished their lead, though, and capitalized from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
The Quips (29-1) started the contest strong, scoring six straight points to take an 8-2 lead. Conwell-Egan responded with a run of its own, however, as the Eagles scored the final eight points of the stanza to take a four-point lead through the first quarter.
In the second frame, the Quips went cold from the field, while the Eagles caught fire from the floor. Conwell-Egan (21-8) capitalized with Quips center Chuckie Humphries sidelined with two fouls, outscoring Aliquippa 19-7 in the quarter.
Aliquippa’s potent backcourt duo of Jassir Jordan and Stephon McGinnis combined to shoot just 4-16 in the half, and the Quips collectively shot just 20.8 percent through two quarters.
Quips head coach Nick Lackovich detailed his team’s struggles on offense in the opening 16 minutes. “They were taking tough shots,” he noted of his players. “They were actually taking bad shots.”
Conversely, the Eagles shot just less than 50 percent, including knocking down four shots from behind the arc. Chase Kumor made a trio of three pointers, while LaPri McCray-Pace notched 11 points, including seven made foul shots.
The third quarter belonged to the Quips, though, as Aliquippa outscored Conwell-Egan 20-8 to trim 12 points off the Quips’ deficit. Aliquippa notched the first six points of the frame courtesy of a pair of three-point shots. The Quips 13-2 run was snapped by a McCray-Pace layup, but Jordan nailed a three to bring Aliquippa within two, 37-35.
Foul problems again plagued Humphries and the Quips, though, as Aliquippa’s big man picked up his fourth with 30 seconds left in the quarter. As a result, the District XII Champion Eagles carried a four-point advantage into the final stanza.
Conwell-Egan capitalized on the aggressive Aliquippa defense, as the Eagles were in the bonus with 7:21 left in the contest. Despite the Eagles holding a significant advantage from the foul line, the Quips stayed within striking distance, as McGinnis’ layup pulled Aliquippa to within two points with 4:45 left.
Kumor converted an and-one play to extend the Eagles lead, but Jordan knocked down another shot from behind the arc to again make it a one-possession game.
Despite the disparity in records entering the contest, Conwell-Egan head coach Frank Sciolla didn’t view his team as the underdog in the matchup, and he kept his unit calm in the midst of the Quips’ late run. “Even when it was two-points and they (Aliquippa) had the ball, I said ‘they might score here, and if they do, it’s okay,”’ he detailed.
Aliquippa had a chance to tie the game for the first time in the second half, but Humphries’ layup attempt was blocked, and Conwell-Egan’s Stevie Jordan subsequently converted a layup in transition to put the Eagles ahead 52-48. McCray-Pace added another layup with 1:45 left to give his squad a commanding lead.
The Quips mustered just three points over the final two minutes, while the Eagles sealed the victory with their success from the foul line.
In the contest, Conwell-Egan shot 28-35 from the charity stripe, while Aliquippa converted just 5-8 foul shots.
McCray-Pace finished with a game-high 22 points, while his teammate Stevie Jordan added 21. McGinnis paced the Quips with 17, including 13 in the second half, while Jassir Jordan contributed 13.
With the defeat, Aliquippa failed to capture the fifth PIAA championship in team history, and the first perfect season since 1949.
“It is hard to go perfect all year, because you get everybody’s A game,” Lackovich said.
Score By Quarters:
Conwell-Egan Eagles 12 – 19 – 8 – 23 = 62
Aliquippa Quips 8 – 7 – 20 – 16 = 51
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