Sto-Rox boys erase 14-point deficit to defeat Shenango in Class 2A semifinals
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 10:38 PM
Throughout the course of this year’s WPIAL playoffs, No. 2 Sto Rox has developed a flair for the dramatic.
On Friday, the Vikings had to erase an 11-point halftime deficit to overcome Brentwood in their quarterfinal matchup. They found themselves in a familiar position Tuesday at Woodland Hills.
They trailed by 13 at the half and were down as many as 14 in the second. But senior guard Jamal Williams stepped up in the fourth quarter and scored 13 of his 15 points to spark the Vikings as they came storming back to upend No. 6 Shenango and earn a 65-58 WPIAL Class 2A semifinal victory.
“I was cold in the first half, but the team needed me to step up,” Williams said. “People were in foul trouble, and I did what I do best, shoot the ball and try to get my team in position to win.”
Through the first eight minutes of the game, the teams traded baskets consistently. One would go up two, only to be answered moments later. Neither team could pull away, and the Vikings (18-6) held a slight 16-14 advantage.
The Wildcats (19-6) started to get hot from deep in the second and built a lead. Senior guard Colin McQuiston, who scored 14 of his team-high 25 points in the second quarter, drilled three 3-pointers and allowed the Wildcats to build a 34-21 advantage heading into the break.
But the Vikings knew they weren’t out of it and remained calm.
“We went in (the locker room) with our heads held high,” said Jamil Williams, who scored a team-high 19 points. “It was just like last game. We came in the locker room, and we knew we were good. We’ve been in these situations before. This was nothing new to us. We just needed to get stops.”
The Vikings came out of the locker room and did just that by starting the second half on a 6-1 run. Still, the Wildcats stayed consistent with their lead and held a 12-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
That was when the Vikings made their run. Jamil Williams hit a deep three to get things started, and with just over six minutes left in the game, he hit another to cut Shenango’s lead to four, 51-47.
“He was big,” Sto-Rox coach Ryan Hughes said. “He had to get yelled at a little at half to step up like that, and he did.”
The teams continued to trade buckets throughout the rest of the quarter. The Wildcats tried to slow it down for easy buckets, but the Vikings’ intense defensive pressure continued to force turnovers.
With just under two minutes to go in the game, Davontae Johnson hit a contested layup for an and-one continuation foul and put the Vikings up for the first time since the first quarter. Moments later, Jamil Williams made a steal around the half-court line and took it in for an easy layup.
“I knew they were going to throw it because that was the play they were running to break the press,” Jamil Williams said. “So I just tipped it up and said I was taking it.”
From there, the Vikings sealed the game at the free-throw line and punched their ticket to The Pete, where they will play No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 5 p.m. Friday.
Over the course of the past few years, the Vikings have come a long way, and Hughes has seen his team develop in front of his eyes. Now they have the opportunity to play for a WPIAL championship.
“These guys have no quit. They’ve been through the trenches,” Hughes said. “Freshman and sophomore year, we were getting beat handily by everybody. This is the same group of guys, and they got a lot of pride in them. They know what they want, and now they have the opportunity to go and get it.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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