Top regional prospects square off in anticipated showdown
Almost like a tag-team wrestling match, the LaBrae and West Middlesex boys basketball teams relied on their two big men at the Covelli Centre.
Billed as a bout between two top regional prospects, the Big Reds’ Matthew Dogan and the Vikings’ Peyton Aldridge surged early, but were contained late.
Still, it was Dogan’s 10 fourth quarter points that rallied West Middlesex past LaBrae, 67-56, on Sunday night.
“He handles the ball well, drives and pulls up,” LaBrae coach Chad Kiser said. “He’s able to get some drives whenever he wants to because he’s a tough ballplayer. We just weren’t able to contain him. When we got off on a switch, he was able to get some nice dump downs.”
The Gannon-bound senior grabbed six rebounds and Trey Staunch brought down 10 more. The Big Reds (11-3) grabbed 24 rebounds with at least eight coming on the offensive end.
“The story of the game was inside,” Kiser said. “They killed us with offensive rebounds. A couple of low posts screens got us defensively and we didn’t communicate.
“That was the difference in the game.”
West Middlesex coach Chad Mild added, “We talked about that before we even got over here. We talked about screening on offensive and making sure we screened Aldridge a lot to get it down on the block. We did a great job establishing that.”
The Big Reds led by 12 points in the second quarter. Although Aldridge was held scoreless in the third, his teammates helped close the gap to five with a minute left in the frame.
Tyler Shiamone knocked down a pair of threes, Chris Cleavenger added another and Marcell Richardson added six points in the paint over a span of four minutes.
“Tyler got hot,” Kiser said. “Chris came in and played defense pretty well and Marcell’s a spark for us. He’s kind of an athletic post player that can slash and jump.”
Dogan was limited to just two points in both the second and third quarters. Guarding each other for most of the game, Aldridge had the most memorable move with a drive and lay up over top Dogan in the second quarter.
LaBrae is 9-3. In its previous two losses (57-49 to Poland on Jan. 8 and 66-61 to Brookfield on Jan. 15), LaBrae was out-rebounded handily, Kiser said. The Vikings pulled down just 16 boards on Sunday.
“We haven’t learned from that part of it yet,” Kiser said.
LaBrae was 7 of 12 from 3-point range, but shot just 38-percent from the field.
Aldridge finished with 23 points and six rebounds and was awarded the John Kovach Sportsmanship award by Vindicator sports editor, Ed Puskas.
Richardson and Shiamone each finished with eight points and John Richardson added seven.
LaBrae started Carl Brown had five assists, but was limited to just two points. He played sparingly in the second half because he suffered a sprained ankle last week in practice.
“With it not being a league game, there’s no sense of really pushing Carl had there.”
Dogan finished with 24 points, Staunch added 12 and Jeremy Jansco scored 13 for West Middlesex.
The Vikings forced seven turnovers in the third quarter and only turned it over eight times total.