IMPERIAL – The days leading up to Washington High School’s matchup with Summit Academy were not ideal. In a game where they needed every player on the roster, the Prexies were without senior guard Dupree Jenkins.
Jenkins missed the game with academic issues, but Wash High was not looking for pity. In a game where they faced a physically dominant opponent, the next-man-up mentality worked.
The Prexies drew to within four points midway through the fourth quarter, but a late 15-4 run led Summit Academy to a 75-65 victory at West Allegheny High School.
The Knights (16-5) will face Seton-La Salle in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half,” Wash High head coach Mark Gaither said. “The energy and the effort were there in the second half, but we kind of ran out of gas.”
Playing against a team that does not utilize its bench, the Prexies’ goal was to turn to theirs as the game wore on. The strategy was a sound one when freshman guard Matt Popeck entered the game and hit two big three-point shots for Wash High in the second half, including the basket that drew the Prexies to within four.
Summit Academy’s athleticism and talent were dominant at both ends of the court. Senior Dasonte White, who averages 21.1 points per game for the Knights, scored a game-high 29 points, and Devin Montgomery added 24 in a dominant performance.
It was Summit Academy’s work on the defensive end that made the difference. Using a traditional 2-1-2 defense, the Knights wanted to force the Prexies to pass into the lane. It worked as errant passes led to turnovers and turnovers led to points in transition.
“We didn’t start that great, so we had to get our minds right and get focused,” White said. “We knew we had to shut them down defensively, and we felt we did that.”
Wash High’s loss did not stem from a lack of effort. Sophomore Nate Swart finished with 19 points and junior DeQuay Isbell scored 14 and grabbed 17 rebounds. Junior Jonathan Spina ran the offense from the point and made several nice passes to set up his teammates. Senior Quorteze Levy was relentless in the lane but against a physically dominant opponent, capitalizing on opportunities became critical.
Unfortunately for the Prexies, missed lay-ups and rebounds surrendered in the second half made the difference.
“We saw them against Burrell, and it was apparent their offense was predicated on passes to the middle,” Summit Academy head coach Adam Petrosky said. “We had to sacrifice the perimeter game for the inside one. They have a lot of guys who can rebound and score inside, so that was our focus. Those threes they hit late changed the game, but that was the sacrifice we made to stop them inside.”
Wash High trailed 21-19 at the end of the first quarter when Summit Academy’s offense began hitting shots. Five different players scored for the Knights during a 15-2 run to start the second quarter, as Summit Academy went into halftime with a comfortable 13-point lead.
Swart scored nine points in the third quarter, but White matched that total. While the Knights barely made it to the free throw line, the play of Montgomery and White closed out Wash High in the final eight minutes. Every starter for the Knights scored in the 15-2 run over a four-minute span.
“I’m proud of the guys and the way they fought,” Gaither said. “It’s tough facing adversity like that with Dupree out, but we don’t make excuses. We lost to a good, athletic team tonight.”