By Pete Chiodo
SLIPPERY ROCK —
A solid season for the Meadville boys basketball team came to an ugly end as the Bulldogs were bounced from the District 10 Class AAA playoffs by Strong Vincent, 73-41, during a quarterfinal matchup held Wednesday at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Fieldhouse.
Meadville ends the season with a record of 16-7.
“I felt bad that we had to play like that at the end,” said Bulldogs head coach Norm Price. “But there’s not too much you can say when a team beats you that bad. They just took it to us. I felt bad for our kids, because we played 22 games pretty respectably, and to play one like this, I felt bad for them. That’s about all I can say.”
Strong Vincent (13-10) moves on to the semifinals where it will face Girard, a 47-43 victor over Sharon last night. A time and place for the game has yet to be announced.
Vincent advanced by dominating pretty much every aspect of last night’s game — the Colonels shot the ball better, played better defense and absolutely owned the boards.
Vincent’s statistician counted 49 rebounds for the Colonels, 19 of which came on offense.
Demarcus Cleckley, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, led that effort with a 17-point, 17-rebound double-double. Ten of those rebounds were on the offensive end. And a dozen of his points were on second chances.
“If Demarcus played with more intensity and more self confidence he could do that every night,” said Colonels head coach Shannon Pullium. “He could average a double-double every night. And he’s starting to come into his own. And he did a heck of a job.”
Denzel Porter, a 6-5 senior, also had a big night on the boards, grabbing nine rebounds to go along with his 17 points.
Senior guard Malquan Pullium tied the whole effort together with 15 points, six assists and four steals.
For Meadville, Trevor Clune led the way with 17 points. He scored each of the Bulldogs’ eight points in the first quarter, which was won by Vincent 16-8. And he scored the Bulldogs’ first bucket of the second quarter, which followed a seven-point run by the Colonels.
Vincent won the second period 25-12, taking a 41-20 lead at the break.
“Every time we watched Meadville on film, they had 40 points at halftime,” said coach Pullium. “I said, ‘We can’t afford for them to be in the 70s. They have to be in the 40s or 50s in order for us to win.’”
Zak Price added 13 points to the Bulldogs’ tally, scoring seven in the fourth quarter.
“To be honest with you, we’d been struggling on defense, man-to-man,” said Pullium. “And that’s really been our staple for the last few years, our man-to-man defense, and we’d been struggling. But we didn’t want to come out here and let Zak have a career night, or let Clune have a career night. Because it seems like everybody we’ve been playing, their star has been having a career night. So I challenged the guys to step up defensively. And they stepped up.”