After weathering Summit Academy’s first-half dominance and using the third quarter as a springboard to their first lead of Saturday’s PIAA Class AA boys first-round game, it appeared that District 5 champion Conemaugh Township had solved the Knights.
At the very least, the Indians had frustrated them.
Another eight minutes of scoreboard later, offensive outbursts from Dasonte White and Micheon Anderson-Meade made that Conemaugh Township lead a distant memory as the Knights advanced with a 75-59 win at Pitt-Johnstown’s Sports Center.
“During the fourth quarter I asked my assistant coach: ‘How did we go from down four to almost up 20?’” Summit Academy coach Art McCray said. “That’s how we do it. It’s comes in spurts. We tend to wear teams down. Teams will hang with us until the fourth, the middle of the fourth, then we just tend to separate.”
The Indians end their season with a 21-6 mark and a third straight District 5 crown.
“It was great with this bunch of kids,” Conemaugh Township coach Chuck Lesko said. “Knowing what we lost last year, the last two years, and for this group to come in and accomplish what they did ... Coach (Fred) Mainhart and I couldn’t be more proud of the job that they’ve done to get back here. We hope that it’s a memory that they’ll cherish.”
Trailing 47-43 heading into the fourth, Anderson-Meade started a 9-0 run with a bucket in traffic. After a steal and layup from Donte Tyson and a free throw from Anderson-Meade, Devin Montgomery and White each hit close-range shots to grow the Knights’ lead to 52-47.
“We turned the ball over three or four times in a row,” Lesko said. “All the momentum that I thought we picked up in the third quarter, we kind of gave it away in a minute and a half early in the fourth.”
The Indians marked time with Summit Academy with field goals from Evan Steeves and Jake Formica offsetting a 3-pointer from White and a lay-in from Anderson-Meade. The lead ebbed as high as eight points after a bucket from Anderson-Meade made it 61-53 and shrunk down to four points almost immediately after when Ben Wilson’s 3-pointer preceded a free throw from Jeff Callihan.
From there, the Knights (17-6) closed out the game on a 14-2 run. White, who scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth, hit a pair of 3-pointers to punctuate the Summit Academy victory. Anderson-Meade notched 10 of his 16 points during the Knights’ 32-12 fourth-quarter flurry.
Lemuel McFadden grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Summit Academy.
Conemaugh Township, which trailed by as many as nine points in the early-going, allowed a quick bucket by White to open the third before unleashing a 13-0 run highlighted by two 3-pointers from Wilson and a trey from Austin Speigle.
Quickly, the Knights rallied to knot the score at 39 behind three points from White and a putback from Anderson-Meade. Callihan’s bucket in traffic and a layup from Steeves swayed the momentum back to Conemaugh Township, which closed the third with a 3-pointer from Steeves.
“They switched up their defense and we were able to read it,” Lesko said. “We executed some things better in the second half, especially in the third quarter, better than we did in the first half. We were able to get the lead, we just a couple of mental breakdowns in the fourth quarter.”
But McCray has watched this movie before and more often than not, the end result has been a happy one for the Knights.
“These guys cause a lot of drama,” McCray said. “We’ve had a lot of mid-fourth-quarter explosions. You come to expect it to happen. I know that Dasonte White is going to start hitting his shots. When he starts hitting his shots, they’re going to come out on him and he’ll star feeding our big men. It’s just a matter of is it going to happen? Is it going to happen? It usually does, but it does cause for some stressful situations.”
Wilson paced the Indians with 15 points while Speigle and Callihan each scored 14 points. Steeves added 10 more for the WestPAC squad. Callihan’s eight boards led Conemaugh Township.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.