CLARION, Pa. —
St. Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli made the five hour drive from Philadelphia to Clarion Tuesday night to watch Lincoln Park Performing Arts (Midland)
junior center Devontae Watson
play, and the long-time Hawks coach surely didn't go home disappointed as Watson had 31 points, 22 rebounds and 11 blocked shots helping the Leopards to the PIAA Class A boys basketball quarterfinals with a 66-47 win over Elk County Catholic at Clarion University's Tippin Gym.
"It was a fun game," Watson said. "It's my first triple-double in a while. I haven't played like that in a while. I enjoyed it tonight."
While Watson might not have recorded a triple-double in a while, it's not like his game hasn't been there. He had 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in a first-round PIAA playoff win over West Middlesex and is averaging more than 16 points and 10 rebounds on the season while most likely averaging a triple-double with double-digit blocked shots.
"Defensively my game is pretty good right now," Watson said. "Offensively, it slips up sometimes. But I'm here for the team, it's not about me. As long as our team wins and we are having fun, it's all right."
Watson and his teammates have their sights set on the PIAA title after finishing second to Vincentian Academy in the WPIAL (District 7).
"Coming into this year, our goal was to get back to the WPIAL but ultimately we want to win the state," Watson said. "That's what we are focused on right now. We have to play consistently as a team and not do anything that coach calls stupid like throwing the ball away or trying to force it into triple teams. Stuff like that cost us the WPIAL title. We beat ourselves."
Lincoln Park (19-7) isn't just about Watson. Senior Chaquille Pratt
, a Division II prospect, is the leading scorer at over 20 ppg, and players like B.J. Lipke and Kyle Taylor also help the charter school from Midland in Beaver County outside of Pittsburgh roll.
The Leopards beat Clairton in the quarterfinals Friday night and have a rematch with Vincentian Academy (Pittsburgh)
MaxPreps Pennsylvania boys basketball playoff brackets
NEW CASTLE GIRLS, BEAVER FALLS BOYS MAKE IMPROBABLE STATE PLAYOFF RUNS
Two of the feel-good stories of the PIAA playoffs involve a pair of WPIAL teams - one boys and one girls - but their improbable state runs ended.
The New Castle
girls were the fourth-place team in Class AAA out of the WPIAL after losing in the WPIAL semifinals to runner-up Ambridge. As the fourth-place team, the Lady Hurricanes were forced to play a play-in game March 8 just to get into the bracket of 36 teams. They won that game handily 63-9 over Perry from the Pittsburgh City League and then handled District 9 champion St. Marys with ease 69-23 in the first round.
That set up a matchup with WPIAL champion Blackhawk, and New Castle outscored Blackhawk 17-6 in overtime to get a 73-62 win. Lashauna Brothers
(26 points) and Ja'nia Mcphatter
(23 points) had huge games for the Lady Canes.
New Castle's season ended Saturday in the quarterfinals with a loss to Mercyhurst Prep.
Maybe an even more improbable run is occurring in Class AA boys where Beaver Falls
lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals to Wilkinsburg, which then lost to Monessen in the semifinals meaning the only way the Tigers even could make the PIAA playoffs was for Monessen to win the WPIAL title, which it did, making Beaver Falls the seventh and final team from the WPIAL into the state bracket.
As the seventh-place team, Beaver Falls had to win the play-in game against Tussey Mountain and barely survived the District 5 runner-up with a 69-61 win. The Tigers then knocked off District 6 champion Bishop McCort in another close contest 59-53 setting up a rematch with Wilkinsburg, the only team to beat them since Jan. 8. This time, it was all Beaver Falls with Sheldon Jeter
scoring 31 points, including 15 fourth-quarter tallies, to lead the Tigers to a 69-55 win.
Beaver Falls lost 61-60 to WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic in the quarterfinals Saturday.
TWO WPIAL CHAMPS GET SHOCKED IN SECOND ROUND OF PIAA PLAYOFFS
The Blackhawk (Beaver Falls)
girls and the Gateway (Monroeville)
boys became the latest victims of a WPIAL championship hangover falling in the second round of the PIAA playoffs last week.
Blackhawk, the Class AAA champion, dropped a 73-62 decision to New Castle, while Gateway, the Class AAAA titlist, fell to Mt. Lebanon 59-33 thanks to 18 points from Michigan State football recruit Paul Lang and 17 from Evan Eaton.
ELIZABETH-FORWARD OPENS GIRLS BASKETBALL COACHING POSITION
John Hearn, the highly successful girls basketball coach at Forward (Elizabeth)
may not be the Warriors' coach next year after the school board voted to open his position by a 7-1 vote. Hearn, who has more than 400 wins at E-F, has gone 11-32 the last two seasons. School board members told the McKeesport Daily News the decision to open the girls basketball position came after a recommendation from the administration.