Just across town and a little more than three months earlier, Aliquippa used a first-quarter defensive touchdown to set the tone en route to earning its record 20th WPIAL football championship.

Many of those same Quips turned up the heat on defense again Saturday, but this time switched from Acrisure Stadium to make a little hardwood history at another Pitt athletics venue — Petersen Events Center.

No. 1-seeded Aliquippa’s ferocious full-court, man-to-man defense overwhelmed No. 2 Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class 2A championship, and sophomore guard Joshua Pratt poured in 33 points to help the Quips earn a record-tying 14th WPIAL boys basketball title with a 69-32 victory against the Centurions.

“It means a lot,” said Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich, whose program now is tied at 14 championships with New Castle. “We are really proud of the tradition of our program. The best part is, if there was one person out there who would’ve wanted us to do this today, it would’ve been [New Castle coach] Ralph Blundo. Ralph is a good friend of mine and I know he was cheering for us. It means everything to us.”

Aliquippa now has won WPIAL championships in football and boys basketball in consecutive years.

Aliquippa’s Marques Council Jr. passes the ball to Tiqwai Hayes (12) against Greensburg Central Catholic in the WPIAL Class 2A championship Saturday at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center. Aliquippa won, 69-32. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

“That’s just something that we want to do every year, with any team either, football or basketball,” said Aliquippa senior forward Cameron Lindsay, who is a Pitt football recruit as a linebacker. “It’s always been championship or bust with us. That’s just what we do every single year.”

Aliquippa entered the WPIAL championship conceding an average of just 43.1 points per game, which was the least among all schools in the district’s top five classifications.

The Quips (21-5) held the Centurions (23-3) to 35.3% shooting from the field and to just 12 field goals in the game.

“That was the game plan, really, just not letting them get to their spots,” Pratt said.

Greensburg Central Catholic’s Braden Riley tries to get the ball past Aliquippa’s Brandon Banks in the WPIAL Class 2A championship Saturday at Petersen Events Center. Aliquippa won, 69-32. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Greensburg Central Catholic shot 0 for 7 from the field and trailed, 16-3, after one quarter. Centurions senior guard Tyree Turner made his team’s only points of the quarter from the free-throw line.

“That’s something we took pride in this year,” said Lindsay of his team’s strong defensive output. “We knew we had capable defenders. We feel like we can guard, really, a lot of teams, not only just in the WPIAL but in general. The less points they have, the better.”

The Centurions tallied their first field goal of the game when Liam Gallagher made a 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the second quarter to make their deficit 18-6.

Greensburg Central Catholic would manage only three field goals in the first half.

“With a team like them and the pedigree that they have, you’ve got to get out to a quick start, at least keep it even to start, to feel like we’ve got a chance in the long run,” said Greensburg Central Catholic coach Christian Hyland, whose team averaged 66.7 points per game coming into the championship. “We talked about that, just hunker down, try to stay in it, stay there and try to make your final push. We just got off to a rocky start, weren’t making shots.”

As good as the Quips were defensively, they were nearly equally as dominant on the other end of the court.

Pratt made 13-of-20 attempts from the floor, which included 7-of-9 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

“He told me yesterday that he was going to be locked in and everything was going down,” said Lackovich of Pratt. “He’s a man of his word. He played a phenomenal game, offensively, phenomenal.”

Senior guard Quentin Goode also scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor.

“We just have an innate ability to compete,” Lackovich said. “Our compete level is high. If this was a checkers game, we still would come out and expect to win.”

Turner scored a team-high 16 points to lead Greensburg Central Catholic.

“I think we came out a little cold,” he said. “This was our first time playing here and they have some experience here. That showed a little bit in the first quarter. They made some shots that we didn’t expect them to make, either. Sometimes that just happens.”

Aliquippa’s Joshua Pratt looks to score against Greensburg Central Catholic’s Brady O’Rouke, left, and Liam Gallagher in the WPIAL Class 2A championship Saturday at Petersen Events Center. Pratt finished with a game-high 33 points to lead Aliquippa to a 69-32 victory. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Aliquippa now advances to the PIAA playoffs, where it will face District 9 third-place finisher Otto-Eldred.

Lackovich said the strength of his team’s schedule this season helped the Quips to another WPIAL title and should make them a dangerous team moving forward.

“We set our schedule up this year, we could have very easily been playing in the 6A championship if we were at that level,” he said. “We played all the highly ranked 6A, 5A, 4A teams, whatever. Everyone we played had a resume. We won some, we lost some, but at the end of the day it made us better.

“Today was maybe proof of that,” Lackovich added. “It was a very complete performance.”

Greensburg Central Catholic will take on District 5 runner-up Southern Fulton once the PIAA postseason begins.

“We’ve been going hard at it for the past two or three weeks, wanting to get here, wanting to win,” Hyland said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen but we’ll take a couple days to regroup and we’ll be ready to go back at it.”

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at jsanta@unionprogress.com.

John Santa

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at jsanta@unionprogress.com.