Seton LaSalle boys heat up, knock off Aliquippa in key section matchup

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 | 11:26 PM

For portions of the Aliquippa at Seton LaSalle boys basketball matchup on Tuesday, the game resembled a preschool finger-painting contest. It was hard to figure out what you were looking at.

But for Seton LaSalle coach Mark Walsh afterward, the game was a prized portrait that his Rebels were thrilled to claim ownership of.

Seton LaSalle stunned Aliquippa, 49-41, to throw their hat in the ring for the growing list of contenders in Class 3A.

“We started out pretty slow when we came out of the gate (with a 1-4 record),” Seton LaSalle coach Mark Walsh said. “I really got on the guys hard in practice the last couple of days, and I said you have to bring more of an effort. I thought at times defensively (Tuesday) was the best defense we played all year.”

While the first half featured a mix of strong defense by both teams, there were plenty of errant shots, poor decisions and turnovers mixed in. Those things all added up, and the end result was an 18-16 Rebels lead at the half.

The Quips seemed to take control after halftime when they took the lead and built it up to the biggest advantage of the night to that point, 29-22 midway through the third quarter.

Then the game changed on an 8-0 run for Seton LaSalle. The Rebels started getting offensive rebounds, hitting on second-chance shots and frustrating the Aliquippa offense.

“We were trying to run a lot of our sets in the first half, and they did a good job defending us,” Walsh said. “In the second half, we attacked their pressure a little bit better. We came up with some huge offensive rebounds in the second half, and any time you get a putback, it’s energizing.”

The Quips led 31-30 after three quarters, but the late third-quarter funk continued into the fourth quarter for the visitors.

In fact, Aliquippa only scored one point in the first four minutes and four total points in the first seven minutes of the quarter.

The Rebels got huge minutes from senior Griffin Malloy off the bench. He kept alive several second-half possessions with offensive rebounds or by tracking down loose balls, plus he scored six of his 11 points in the final quarter.

“Griffin played a great game for us,” Walsh said. “He’s like one of the emotional leaders for us. He decided not to play basketball last year, but he came back to play for us this year and we’re thrilled about that. He brings an energy level that I just can’t describe.”

Jacob Scarff, a 6-foot-10 senior, led Seton LaSalle (3-2, 6-5) with 12 points, including eight in the second half.

Junior Emmett Harris also had 11 points for a Rebels team that has now won five of its last six games.

Aliquippa (5-1, 7-3) had a three-game winning streak snapped by its first loss in section play. Senior Tyjeir Crocker scored a game-high 18 points for the Quips, including 13 in the second half. Sophomore Donovan Walker scored 11 points.

As this unique regular season winds down, Walsh likes what he sees from his team heading into the open WPIAL tournament.

“The one thing that has me excited is that sooner or later, we’ll begin to shoot the ball better,” he said. “I was always a shooter growing up, and I thought I could coach shooting and teach shooting, but we’re not shooting the ball real well. Once we start to do that better, things are going to start to flow a lot.”

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