Royals eliminate Monessen boys from playoffs

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DORMONT – The Vincentian boys basketball team’s style of play is a dirty trick.


The Royals like to play at a frenetic pace, one that allows opponents to score early, but also one that few opponents can maintain for 32 minutes.


“A lot of coaches don’t like those breakaways and different kind of things that happen. We actually don’t mind it because as long as it’s on our tempo, they’re going to get some of those,” Vincentian coach George Yokitis said.


“We play like this every game, and we don’t think everybody plays like this very often.”


Vincentian claimed another victim in a young Monessen squad Friday night in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals at Keystone Oaks High School, handing the Greyhounds an 81-42 loss to eliminate them from the playoffs.


After Clintell Gillaspie pulled Monessen to within 16-11 at 3:52 of the opening quarter – yes, 27 points were scored in the first 4:08 – Vincentian found a second gear.


Then a third and fourth, racking up 36 points over the next 11:52, 25 more in the third quarter alone.


“That’s what they do,” Monessen coach Joe Salvino said. “They’ll allow you to score, but then you have to play defense.


“And it’s not that we didn’t play defense. They just could shoot the ball.”


Ryan Wolf scored a game-high 23 points for the second-seeded Royals, who improved to 23-1 and will meet No. 3 North Catholic in the WPIAL semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.


Tony DiNardo added 21 points, as Vincentian got points from nine different players while scoring 80 or more points for the 18th time in 24 games.


“We’ve been shooting really well lately,” Yokitis said. “When we’re missing, we don’t look quite as good, and people are saying, ‘What’s that idiot coach letting those guys chuck those threes for?’


“If they go in, I look smart.”


Monessen (10-14) got 12 points from Justice Rawlins and 11 apiece from Lavelle Rush and Clintell Gillaspie. Most costly, though, was that the Greyhounds turned the ball over 21 times.


The sloppy play was somewhat expected given the year Monessen has endured, with Elijah Minnie now at Lincoln Park, Chavas Rawlins at West Virginia.


Both were key players. Both gave Monessen hope it could replicate last year’s run to the WPIAL Class AA final. Instead, the Greyhounds, without two key cogs, were reduced to a young team that was wildly inconsistent.


The good news? Monessen returns all but one player from this team.


“I’m proud of where we got to,” Salvino said. “We played a tough schedule. We’re going to play in the summer league, get the kids in the gym a little bit and go from there. We’re young, and hopefully this playoff experience helped. We’ll see what happens next year.”


Yokitis, it seemed, already knew. Or at least had some idea what this young group of players is capable of after a season of taking a few lumps.


“I think being younger was a problem for them tonight,” Yokitis said. “I was shaking hands with them and saying, ‘I hope to see you at Palumbo.’ They’re all back, and I’m sure (Salvino) will have them ready.”


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