Making the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs is a near certainty for the North Allegheny boys basketball team.
How much momentum the Tigers carry into the playoffs is to be determined.
North Allegheny had a one-game lead for the last playoff spot out of Section 1 before its conference matchup Feb. 1 with Seneca Valley. Results of the game were too late for this edition.
North Allegheny (9-8, 3-5) had to pick itself up following a 55-54 overtime loss to Central Catholic, which is directly behind the Tigers in the standings.
Losing to the Vikings gave North Allegheny its fourth straight loss and second by fewer than five points. Before the skid, it had won six of its previous seven.
Tigers junior guard Mike Iuzzolino wasn’t stressing about streaks.
“We had a team breakfast this morning (Jan. 30) and talked about things,” said Iuzzolino, who scored a team-high 13 points against the Vikings. “We have to learn from our mistakes and move on. Sometimes you lose games you should win. Duke lost to Syracuse this year. You are going to have bad losses. You need to learn from them and move on to the next game.”
What helps ease everyone’s concerns is the Tigers’ depth. Against Central Catholic, Nico Erimias and Khalil Dinkins contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Mike Egnaczyk, Justin Altmeyer and Anthony Hattrup also have made key contributions for North Allegheny.
Everyone knowing how to fulfill their responsibilities has been vital.
“I think everyone needs to do their job and know their role,” Iuzzolino said. “If you have a guy who is doing their role, it makes a tremendous impact. If you are a rebounder, go get 20 rebounds. If you are a scorer, go get 20 points. Do what you are good at.”
The schedule sets up nicely for North Allegheny. While Central Catholic will have to take on Butler and Pine-Richland, the section’s top two teams, North Allegheny will navigate through Seneca Valley and North Hills.
“Every day we take it step by step,” Iuzzolino said. “Our whole goal is to be better than last year. No one expected us to be in the position we are now. Now, our whole goal is to win games and go far in the playoffs. We are using that for fire. We could make a run, and you never know.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.