Everyone knows about Aliquippa’s success in football and basketball over the years, but the most recent Quips also have made good use of a baseball term — doubles.
In the past school year, Aliquippa pulled off a rare double when it reached the PIAA football and basketball championships in the same academic year.
Tuesday, the Quips nailed down another championship double, and they did so by doubling up their opponent in dominant fashion.
Aliquippa was too athletic, too fast and too talented for District 9 runner-up Otto-Eldred, as the WPIAL champion Quips terrorized the Terrors from start to finish on their way to a 56-28 mercy-rule win in a PIAA Class 2A semifinal at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium.
So, for the second consecutive school year and fifth time in school history, Aliquippa will play for PIAA football and basketball titles in the school year, a feat that has been accomplished only 17 times overall in the entire state. The 2022 PIAA Class 3A runner-up, Aliquippa (24-6) will try to win its sixth title when it takes on District 3 champion Lancaster Mennonite (20-8) at 2 p.m. Friday at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
“Doing it once is hard in itself. Being able to go back-to-back, and if you count football, it’s been four in a row, so that’s awesome,” said Cam Lindsey, a junior forward who has started on each of those four teams, including the 2021 football team that captured a PIAA title before the 2022 team came up short in the final.
Aliquippa was awesome Tuesday in what Lindsey called one of his team’s best overall performances of the season. The Quips were 24 of 36 from the field (66%), including 23 of 32 (71%) through the first three quarters before emptying their bench in the fourth. Otto-Eldred (26-3), on the other hand, finished 10 of 28 from the field (35%) and didn’t score more than eight points in any quarter. Aliquippa led by 16 points at the half and used a 12-0 run late in the third quarter to go up by 32 points, which summoned the mercy rule.
“We had a lot of respect for them. Watching them on film, I thought they were a pretty good team. To do what we did was tremendous,” said Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich, who guided the Quips to a 30-0 season and their most recent PIAA title in 2016.
Aliquippa, winner of 10 games in a row, got pretty much whatever it wanted offensively. That was especially true for Lindsey, who finished with a game-high 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Lindsey would find an opening in Otto-Eldred’s zone defense, his teammates would dish him the ball, and Lindsey would finish with a layup. Repeat again and again.
“That’s been my game since I first started playing basketball, so the guys are able to shoot, and it just makes it easier inside for me to get buckets,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey was the only player to score in double figures for Aliquippa, which also got eight points from Demarkus Walker and seven from D.J. Walker. Eight players scored for the Quips, among them late substitutions Michael Gaskins and Tikey Hayes, who doubles as one of the top sophomore running backs in the country.
Otto-Eldred, located just east of Bradford near the New York border, had a tremendous season and was looking to reach its first PIAA final, but it was clear from the beginning that the Terrors were outmatched. But the young Terrors — they started three sophomores and a junior — still put forth a lot of effort and got a team-high 13 points from Shene Thomas.
“I knew they were athletic,” Otto-Eldred coach Derrick Francis said of Aliquippa. “Nothing surprised me with what they did. They were faster than I thought and maybe I should have played it a little differently. But I’ve always said, when I’m coaching, I’ll take every loss. The kids take every win. I have to do better for these kids. We’ll be back.”
• Deer Lakes had never won a WPIAL title prior to this season. The first-time district champions now will look to become first-time state champions, this after the Lancers (21-8) defeated District 6 champion Penn Cambria (24-6), 61-56, at Hempfield. Deer Lakes advances to play Philadelphia West Catholic (19-10) at 2 p.m. Friday in the final in Hershey, Pa.
“It’s fantastic. I’m so happy for these kids,” first-year Deer Lakes coach Albie Fletcher said.
After the score was tied at the half, Deer Lakes surged ahead to take a 48-45 lead after three quarters and then held on for the win. Billy Schaeffer led Deer Lakes with 17 points and Wayne Love added 16. Penn Cambria got 23 points from Zach Grove and 20 from Duquesne football recruit Garrett Harrold.
“The difference was the second half,” Fletcher said. “We were down and getting outrebounded. They were the more physical team in the first half, but we ended up outrebounding them, which was big for us. We went to a matchup zone and did a good job.”