PIAA semifinals: Droney breaks Lincoln Park’s heart again
March 24, 2010
Times photo by SYLVESTER WASHINGTON JR. Sewickley Academy 's Tom Droney making a layup.
PITTSBURGH — Tom Droney had a wish.
Wishes have become commonplace for Droney and his Sewickley Academy teammates, who have seen dreams of section titles and WPIAL championships become reality this season.
But this particular wish was of the spur-of-the-moment variety, as Droney admitted he had some trepidation prior to driving to the basket against Lincoln Park's 6-foot-9 center Davonte Watson with a trip to the PIAA championship game on the line.
"All I was thinking was, 'I hope this doesn't get swatted,'" said Droney.
Add another wish come true. Droney's bending, twisting shot just got past Watson's out-stretched arm, falling through the net with 3.6 seconds left as a whistle sounded. Droney sank the ensuing free throw, and he and his teammates held their collective breaths as Lincoln Park's last-second desperation heave missed its mark, lifting Sewickley to a thrilling 50-47 victory Tuesday night at the A.J.Palumbo Center.
With the win, Sewickley Academy (26-2) advanced to the PIAA Class A championship on Friday afternoon against Reading Central Catholic (30-1). Lincoln Park had its season end at 21-8.
"I was nervous," Droney said of his late-game heroics. "He (Watson) is a giant in there. I was just trying to get around him and get my shot off."
"I had no idea what he was going to do with the ball," Sewickley coach Win Palmer said of Droney's game-winner, which was set in motion after Lincoln Park tied the game 47-47 on a jumper by Chaquille Pratt with 21 seconds left.
"That was an unbelievable basket. I was speechless."
Droney led all scorers with 29 points.
It was the second time in less than a month that Droney has stuck a dagger in the heart of Lincoln Park. Nineteen days earlier, Droney canned a 3-point basket with 12 seconds left to lift Sewickley over Lincoln Park in the WPIAL championship game.
"This is going to stay with us for a while," Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens said. "When we lost the WPIAL championship game, we knew we had another shot. But this one ... we have to wait until next year."
Droney had 17 first-half points as Sewickley took a 28-26 lead at halftime. It extended the lead to 35-28 with 3:41 left in the third quarter. But Lincoln Park ended the quarter with a 12-2 run behind Watson's six points to take a 40-37 lead entering the final quarter.
"That tested us," Palmer said.
The game was tied three times in the final quarter, the final instance on Pratt's jumper from just inside the 3-point arc with 21 seconds left, setting the stage for Droney's heroics.
Another key in Sewickley Academy's win was its ability to shut down Pratt, who entered the game averaging 37.7 points in the PIAA tournament. On Tuesday, Sewickley limited Pratt to 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
"We put a lot of focus on Pratt," Droney said. "He really hurt us the first time we played and we couldn't let that happen again. Debo (David Bonomo) covered him tonight and was just amazing."
Sewickley will be making its second appearance in the PIAA game in the last five seasons, having lost the 2005 title game. Droney and company are looking to write a different ending.
"This is what we've talked about all season," Droney said. "It's a relief to get to this point, but we still have lone more goal to accomplish."
SEWICKLEY ACADEMY 50, LINCOLN PARK 47
SEWICKLEY ACADEMY Palmer 0 1-2 1, Motley 1 3-4 5, Droney 11 7-11 29, Schram 3 3-4 9, Bonomo 3 0-0 6, Poepping 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 14-21 50.
LINCOLN PARK Kross 2 0-0 6, Taylor 2 0-0 5, Pratt 5 2-3 12, Shirley 3 1-4 7, Bradley 3 1-4 7, Watson 5 0-0 10. Totals 20 4-9 47
Sewickley 15 13 9 13 — 50
Lincoln Park 13 13 14 7 — 47
3-point goals: Lincoln Park 3 (Kross 2, Taylor 1).
About Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School (www.lppacs.org) is a Pennsylvania public school providing a state-approved academic program and pre-professional training for grades 7-12 in music, theater, dance, creative writing, health science arts and media arts. The school enrolls students from more than 65 surrounding school districts.
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