Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clairton More Than One-Trick Bears

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clairton More Than One-Trick Bears

Article excerpt

Immediately following a football season filled with historic moments, Clairton showed that its athletes do more than score touchdowns.

The Bears proved they had a championship-caliber basketball team, too.

Clairton shined on the basketball court this season, winning a section title with a perfect record and making it to its first WPIAL championship game since 2003. The Bears (17-8) saw their season end with a 37-35 loss to Smethport in a PIAA Class A second-round playoff game last Tuesday.

The Clairton basketball team was made up entirely of players from the football team that finished this past season with a state- record 63-game winning streak. The seniors had won four WPIAL and four PIAA football titles.

"A lot of people asked me if the football success can carry over to basketball," first-year coach Matt Geletko said. "When you have guys used to winning and tough situations, nothing really rattles them. It helped a lot."

Geletko, who was previously an assistant at Serra Catholic for 12 seasons, saw his team make large strides from the beginning of the season up until the postseason.

As usual, Clairton got a late start because the football team didn't wrap up its season until Dec. 14. The Bears played their first basketball game on Dec. 21, but it wasn't until weeks later when the team found its groove.

Geletko pointed to his team's game at Section 3 rival Monessen on Feb. 9 as being the time when the pieces started to fully come together. National letter-of-intent signing day had passed just a few days earlier, and the pressure on the backs of football stars Tyler Boyd, Terrish Webb and Titus Howard -- all of whom chose Pitt - - began to dissolve. The trio, all starters on the basketball team, were able to focus completely on basketball.

Given the No. 5 seed in the WPIAL playoffs, Clairton defeated St. Joseph and Union before pulling one of the biggest upsets of the playoffs when the Bears knocked off No. 1 Lincoln Park, 71-70, in a packed gym at Keystone Oaks.

"That was probably the high point of the season right there," Geletko recalled. "It was a great win for the program and the whole community. We were decided underdogs in that game."

Looking for its seventh WPIAL title, Clairton came up just a little short, as the Bears were defeated by Vincentian, 86-74, in the championship game. …

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