West Allegheny, last team into WPIAL boys playoff field, shocks McKeesport
Monday, February 17, 2020 | 11:25 PM
The WPIAL playoffs apparently don’t follow a last-in, first-out policy.
West Allegheny, which needed help on the final day of the regular season to qualify for the Class 5A tournament, got 30 points from Scott Bilovus to knock off fifth-seeded McKeesport, 65-62, at North Allegheny High School.
West Allegheny led 62-51 before a 9-0 run from McKeesport had the Tigers within two late in the fourth quarter. With 1:12 remaining, Tigers senior Deamontae Diggs stole the ball and raced in for a slam dunk to put McKeesport within grasp of the lead for the first time in the game.
McKeesport fouled and West Allegheny knocked in a free throw to extend the lead to three.
After a Tigers 3-point attempt didn’t go, the Indians knocked the rebound to the far end of the court where McKeesport fouled and the Indians added a free throw to make it 64-60.
With 13.7 seconds left, the Tigers went coast to coast. Brison Kisan drove and layed in a shot with 4.8 seconds left.
One final free throw by West Allegheny made it a 65-62 advantage, and McKeesport couldn’t execute the inbounds play it desired and couldn’t make anything happen in the final seconds as time expired.
“We’re disappointed,” said McKeesport coach Kevin Kovach. “We had three keys to the game, and we never controlled any of them. Rebounds, getting hands in their faces defensively and being what we were supposed to be.
“We drilled it for three days. We knew exactly what they were going to do, and they did it. They made some shots that were unbelievable tonight, and sometimes that happens, but we can’t miss a hundred layups.”
A pair of stars duked it out for top offensive billing throughout as Diggs racked up 35 points for McKeesport and Bilovus, a West Allegheny sophomore, went off for 30 points.
Bilovus had been scratched from a starting spot due to an ankle injury that had him at less than 100% during the last week of practice.
“He wasn’t happy about that,” Indians coach Andrew Tsangaris said. “He didn’t talk to me the whole bus ride out. He’s a competitor. We explained to him that it was because of the injury, and we wanted the height matchup to be better (against Diggs), and it actually didn’t work.”
Bilovus played with that edge and went off for seven of West Allegheny’s 11 3-pointers.
Diggs played his last game in a McKeesport uniform, leaving it all on the court with his 35-point performance but needing just five more to hit the 1,000-point mark for his career.
A talented multi-sport athlete, Diggs will have his choice of Division I football and a variety of basketball options. Obviously disappointed with the finish, Diggs sat alone in the gym collecting his thoughts after the game.
“He played hard. Tae is going to go down as one of the best to ever play here,” said Kovach, while praising the full cast of seniors he coached in the opening years of his tenure at McKeesport.
McKeesport finished the season 12-11. West Allegheny (13-10) will move on to face fourth-seeded Thomas Jefferson on Friday in the quarterfinals.
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