Strong 3rd quarter leads Aliquippa past Bishop Canevin in ‘testy’ PIAA quarterfinal

Saturday, March 18, 2023 | 8:13 PM

The atmosphere around the Aliquippa vs. Bishop Canevin state quarterfinal was tense, to say the least.

Individual fans were escorted out of Peters Township’s gym three times, including once after an argument spilled onto the court. Between the lines, there was physical play, some hard fouls and words were exchanged among players.

The mood inside Aliquippa’s locker room at halftime was apparently no picnic either.

“You don’t want to know,” Quips coach Nick Lackovich said. “It almost got bloody in there.”

Aliquippa was ahead by one, but emerged a more-disciplined shooting team and scored 10 consecutive points in a third-quarter stretch to defeat Bishop Canevin, 67-56, in a PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal Saturday.

The closed-door discussion was about the 3-pointers the Quips were taking against a zone defense. They went 4 for 17 from beyond the arc in the first half and Lackovich thought his team was playing into Canevin’s strategy.

“At halftime, that’s what we’re in their fighting over, because they don’t see it that way,” he said. “They just think that any 3 is a good 3. It’s not.”

Aliquippa went 3 for 7 from the arc in the second half, including consecutive 3s by juniors Demarkus Walker and Quentin Goode that sparked the winning 10-0 run. Tied at 33, the Quips sprinted to a 43-33 lead and never trailed again.

The Quips had four scorers reach double figures. Walker scored 18 points, Cameron Lindsey had 16, Goode had 13 and Donovan Walker added 12.

They won the third quarter 18-9.

“We stopped rushing,” said Goode, who made both 3-pointers he took after halftime. “Just because we’re open doesn’t mean we’ve got to take a shot every time. Get it moving. When it comes back to you, then that’s when we’ll take it.”

WPIAL champion Aliquippa (23-6) is one win away from reaching the state finals for the second year in a row. District 9 runner-up Otto Eldred (26-2) awaits in a state semifinal Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.

Bishop Canevin (22-7), the reigning Class A state champion, was trying to make another run with an all-new lineup.

Considering the stakes, the atmosphere on the court was understandable.

“Nobody wanted to go home,” Lindsey said. “I think that’s why it became such a testy game.”

The first half included eight lead changes and two ties, ending with Aliquippa ahead 27-26 despite shooting just 36% from the field. The Quips also were out-rebounded 17-15.

“We know their strength is offensive rebounding and getting put-backs,” Bishop Canevin coach Tim McConnell said. “We knew we had to pack it in and try to limit that. I thought we did a really nice job of doing that in the first half.

“They hit some shots in the second half and got some steals and some breaks that hurt us a little bit.”

Canevin senior Shea Champine scored a game-high 25 points and junior Jason Cross added 17. The tandem rallied the Crusaders in the fourth quarter and got the team within four points in the final three minutes.

This was McConnell’s first season at Bishop Canevin after 29 years at Chartiers Valley.

“Canevin graduated every player that played last year and two freshmen who started transferred, so we had zero experience,” he said. “Shea scored 80 points last year. He scored 750 this year. For the job these guys did without the experience, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Aliquippa’s lead was cut to 54-50 with 2:30 left after a steal and layup by Champine, but the Quips answered with a 9-2 run. Two free throws by Demarkus Walker pushed the Aliquippa lead to 63-52 with under a minute left.

The Quips went 8 for 11 shooting on second-half attempts inside the arc, and also made 14 of 16 free throws. Playing with a second-half lead, Aliquippa held the ball at times, forcing Canevin to switch up defensively.

“We were taking the bait early on,” Lackovich said. “Once we were able to get a little bit of a lead, our plan all along was to pull them out of that zone.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

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