Flames face defending state champ


The Northgate Flames (2-9, 0-4) had a tall task ahead of them on Tuesday night when they took on the Panthers from Sewickley Academy (8-1, 4-0). The Panthers are the defending state champions from last year, and though they lost nine seniors from that team, they look primed to defend the 2A state championship trophy deep into the post-season.

The Panthers scored first to go up 3-0, and Northgate’s Raylan Whetsell scored on a put-back to make the score 3–2. But, after that, Sewickley Academy went on an 8–0 run, holding the Flames scoreless until Malcolm Randall was fouled going to the basket, and he went to the line and made one of two to make the score 11 – 3.

Also getting in the action in the first quarter was Patrick Wemette, who went to the charity strip and knocked down two of two after getting fouled while driving to the hoop, and the score was 13–5.

Randall would wrap up the Flames’ scoring in the first quarter when he got an offensive rebound and took it back up for two to make the score 17-7

With the quarter coming to an end, the Flames tried to slow it down and work to get the last shot of the quarter, but they were unable to maintain control of the ball and when the quarter ended the Flames were down 20–7.

The Panthers kept the pace moving fast, and the Flames struggled to keep up with the quick tempo. Whetsell and Randall continued to work hard on the inside, and Daijon McCall and Kevon Lowry added to the fray, but still Sewickley Academy outscored the Flames 20 -8. The Flames trailed 40 -15 at the half.

In the third quarter, Wemette banged a three and Whetsell scored four of his game-high 13 points, but the deficit was just too much for the Flames to overcome and the score after three quarters of play had the Flames down 57 – 27.

Randall scored early for the Flames as the fourth quarter started, allowing him to get into the double digits in scoring with 10. But, the fourth quarter played out much like the previous three until both teams emptied their benches, making way for the their reserves with just over two minutes left in the game.

When the dust cleared, the Flames had fallen to a very good section foe by the score of 71 – 44. It is obvious that the Sewickly Academy team had not dropped off much, even after losing many players to graduation last year. When asked what the toughest part of playing the defending champs was, Coach Joe Cangilla said, “The strong guard play with [Nate] Ridgeway controlling underneath.”

The Flames are looking to get their first section win tonight, when they host Neshannock.