Cameron Lindsey and Quentin “Cheese” Goode are accustomed to being in the spotlight, so much so that they wore sunglasses while talking to the media following Saturday’s WPIAL Class 2A championship matchup with Northgate.
“It was just kind of a team idea to have shades on from the jump,” Lindsey said. “We thought it would be pretty cool for our pictures afterwards.”
After leading the Quips to WPIAL football championships the past two seasons, the two now have a WPIAL basketball championship, too.
Say “Cheese,” Aliquippa, your Quips are district champions for the first time since 2016, defeating upstart Northgate, 52-40, at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.
The championship Aliquippa (20-6) baked up Saturday gave the Quips a baker’s dozen worth of WPIAL gold medals. Aliquippa’s 13 titles tie Farrell for second all-time behind New Castle’s 14. (The Red Hurricanes will get a chance to add to that Saturday night.)
“It feels good, real good, especially since we got one in football,” said Goode, a junior and the football team’s starting quarterback.
Lindsey, a 6-foot-3 junior who has football scholarship offers from schools like Pitt and Penn State, looked like a linebacker against Northgate, finishing with game highs of 19 points and 17 rebounds. Thirteen of those rebounds came on the offensive end. D.J. Walker added 12 points and Goode chipped in 6.
Aliquippa, the No. 1 seed, found itself in a battle against No. 6 Northgate (19-7), which was appearing in the final for the first time in 35 years. The red-hot Flames upset two-time defending champion Bishop Canevin in the semifinals and hoped to have better luck against section rival Aliquippa this time after falling to the Quips by 11 and 18 points in the regular season.
Northgate raced to an 18-11 lead on the strength of 6 of 8 shooting from the field in the first quarter, a major surprise considering Aliquippa was giving up just 42.7 points a game, fourth fewest in the WPIAL. The run carried into the second quarter, and Tylan McCune-Daniels’ basket with 2:55 left in the half gave the Flames their largest lead of the game, 27-16.
“Not a good feeling,” Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich said.
No worries. Aliquippa outscored Northgate, 36-13, the remainder of the game. A spurt late in the second quarter drew the Quips within 27-24 at the half. They then scored the first seven points of the third quarter to go in front, 31-27. It was a 12-0 run overall for the Quips, who held Northgate without a point for more than six minutes.
“I give Aliquippa the credit. They’re a solid team,” said Northgate coach Cam Williams. “They played well defensively. They’ve done it all year. We saw them three times. They’re in our section. It’s nothing new.
“We knew what they bring. They come with man-to-man defense, and they’re going to keep coming at you, playing hard and make it a tough game. You’ve got to score to beat them or it will be a long night.”
Aliquippa led by eight points before Northgate’s Stephen Goetz knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:54 left to make it 45-40. Those turned out to be Northgate’s final points of the game.
Goetz finished with 8 points, while Josh Williams led Northgate with 11. Both were averaging 19 points a game. Williams had pumped in 31, 28 and 36 points in Northgate’s first three playoff wins, but he was neutralized Saturday.
“You give me Williams with 11 and Goetz with 8, I’ll take that all day long,” Lackovich said.
Aliquippa’s defense has fueled the team’s success all season, and Saturday was no different. After giving up those 18 points in the first quarter, the Quips surrendered only 22 in the final three quarters. Northgate finished 13 of 42 from the field (30%), including 2 of 13 from 3-point range. The Quips gave up an average of only 36.5 points in four WPIAL playoff games.
“We didn’t do anything special other than just do your job,” said Lackovich, who coached Aliquippa’s previous championship squad in 2016 when the Quips went 30-0. “We’re not running box-and-ones or any of that kind of stuff. It’s just the expectations. It’s like Mike Tomlin says, the standard is the standard, man. And we expect you to play up to it.”
Northgate’s loss ended a special playoff run, one that few outside of the program likely expected. Cam Williams, who has done an outstanding job turning around the program in just three seasons, got emotional when talking about how proud he is of his team.
“It’s tough, but my kids played hard,” Williams said. “They played their hearts out all season, and I believe we’ll see them again to get to the finals. It’s been a great moment. It’s been a great season. It’s probably the third or fourth time in Northgate history where we’ve been where we’re at. I don’t want to do it with another group of guys, period.”
Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.