Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

At Last, Quips Get Moment in Spotlight

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

At Last, Quips Get Moment in Spotlight

Article excerpt

The fact that Aliquippa has a 15-5 record and a chance at a section championship would understandably be a surprise to some. This time last year, the Quips were finishing off a 10-14 season with a team that included seven seniors.

Although the team's rise this season wasn't entirely expected, Quips coach Nick Lackovich knows that it is one of the first steps toward his ultimate goals for the program.

The first-year Aliquippa head coach is aware that if his team -- and the program -- hopes to be great, it will need experience in the sort of must-win situations that are discussed this time of year.

Friday night, it will be getting just that.

Winners of their past eight games, the Quips (15-5, 11-2) are preparing themselves for a game against Class AA Section 2 foe Beaver Falls (16-5, 11-2), the defending PIAA champion that has also won a section championship in six consecutive seasons. The game Friday night at Aliquippa will determine the section title.

Lackovich was an assistant coach at Beaver Falls prior to taking the job at Aliquippa last offseason. He's seen what impact these sorts of big moments have had on players and a program, and he's hoping Friday's game can be the start of a similar trend with the Quips.

"That's always one of our goals -- to win our section," Lackovich said. "With having such a young team that's never been down this road before ... it's been a while since they've had a game like this. I think they're ready to accept the challenge and make the next step."

Part of the reason Aliquippa's turnaround this season was not anticipated was because of just how young many of the team's top players are. Jassir Jordan, the Quips' leading scorer, is only a sophomore, as are Charles Humphries, Kaezon Pugh and Steven Johnson. Darrien Fields and Patrick Anderson are juniors, and though there are still senior standouts such as Jyier Turner and Shawnqueze Adamson, much of the team's core still has at least another year of eligibility remaining.

The success this season has at least partially come from what Lackovich considers to be a pretty simple approach -- making sure his team excels on defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball. …

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