By Matt Popchock
Beaver Falls senior swingman Sheldon Jeter closed out the first day of the C.J. Betters RBA Holiday Classic by practically closing out two-time WPIAL Class A silver medalist Lincoln Park by himself.
One of the top scorers and college prospects in the district, Jeter powered the Tigers (1-0, 6-1) to a 36-20 halftime lead en route to a 66-57 win over the Leopards (5-2) at the Community College of Beaver County. He led the field with 25 points, and a late third-quarter free throw gave him 1,000 for his career.
“It shows how much dedication I put into this, and it felt great when they told me, but I’m still not satisfied,” Jeter said. “It’s an individual achievement, and I want a team achievement, which means a championship.”
The marquee matchup between he and 6’10” center Devontae Watson, a Temple recruit, never really came to fruition, thanks to Beaver Falls’ up-tempo defense. The Tigers repeatedly capitalized on its defensive play, opening up a lead of more than 20 at one point, and although Watson did finish with 11 points for Lincoln Park, he went over 15 minutes between field goals.
“We’ve been playing harder and harder, motivating ourselves every game, and it shows, because that’s a really good team we just beat,” Jeter added. “He’s the big target on the floor, and we knew we had to attack him. We got him into foul trouble, and that got him off his game.”
But what the nightcap lacked in drama it more than made up for in entertainment, and Jeter made sure of that. He brought down the packed house at CCBC’s “Golden Dome” with a series of dunks in the first half, including an astonishing one from the blocks as he rebounded and buried a missed foul shot.
“I honestly don’t know how I did that,” Jeter said with a smile.
Trey Hosack led Lincoln Park, which meets Hopewell in the Gray Division third place game at 5:30 Wednesday, with 21 points. Hosack’s performance was book-ended by a pair of three-pointers.
The Tigers will try for their seventh straight win Wednesday night at 8:30 when they battle Central Valley in the tournament’s Gray Division championship game. The Warriors (2-0, 6-2) escaped with a 56-50 win over Highlands (1-1, 1-5) in which they rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half.
Highlands senior guard and Drake recruit Micah Mason, another of the WPIAL’s top scorers, carried his team as usual with a game-high 30 points, including five three-pointers. Despite his team’s relative lack of depth, with Mason heating up and Central Valley not executing early on, it looked like the Rams might get even for their WPIAL Class AAA playoff loss to the Warriors ten months ago.
But the Warriors battled back to force a 50-50 tie in the game’s final minute, and with time ticking away, senior guard Curtis Lewis swung around the left elbow and was fouled under the basket as he made what proved to be a game-winning layup.
Lewis, who led Central Valley with 19 points that included three three-pointers, did not complete the traditional three-point play. It didn’t matter, because Rayquan Newton promptly clinched the victory with a steal and subsequent one-handed jam.
Meanwhile, South Fayette (2-0, 5-2), which came from behind for a 55-46 win over Aliquippa (1-1, 2-3), will face Quad-A Cumberland Valley of District 3 in the tournament’s Blue Division championship game at 7:00 Wednesday. Hopewell (0-1, 2-4) fell to Cumberland Valley (3-4) in a 58-51 decision Tuesday.
The South Fayette girls, who defeated New Brighton 60-33 Tuesday, will take on Central Valley in the girls’ championship Wednesday at 1:30. The Lady Warriors beat Cornell 58-23 on Tuesday.
Check back with the “Mr. High School Sports” blog later for more on the 20th annual C.J. Betters RBA Holiday Classic.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)