Thursday, February 4, 2010

Overlooked No More, PiHotta Leads Lakeland Over Yorktown

Matt Pihotta is certainly not a loquacious, loud, or outspoken kid. No sir. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

The Lakeland two-guard allows his game to handle the talking aspect, particularly when he's splashing the nets from beyond the arc and burying teams under a barrage of three-pointers. He catches fire rapidly and his sharpshooting has rendered him game-changer.

Though his demure side is evident, Pihotta doesn't flinch when he says the Hornets skipped out on him when they opted to cut him his junior year.

Harkening back on the situation, he felt he was railroaded. Though he was not a victim to a political situation that's become all too familiar in Section I (see Port Chester HS, Blind Brook HS, or some of these schools that use CYO and parents as their feeder system for more on that one).

So, Pihotta some emotions that he expressed, but he would soon bottle them up.

Mostly, Pihotta felt overlooked. Left out to dry.

Even now, having evolving as one of Section I's elite quick-strike shooters after his lone year of Varsity ball, Pihotta wishes he could have had that other year of high school basketball.

Not that there aren't a bevy of Division-III and Division-II programs in which he could ply his wares, but Pihotta stamped his imprint in several crucial games for the Hornets.

A year ago from today, Pihotta was channeling his anger and disappointment when he essentially locked himself into a gym and launched medium-range jump shot after medium-range jump shot.

Shallow sling shots after quick-release 18-footers. 100 free throws after 150 three-point bombs. Call it the shooter's workshop.

Pihotta knew he was going to prove some folks wrong. He knew he was going to hush some haters and paste some pundits' lips shut.

Talking about it know, Pihotta maintains he could have been an impactful piece to the guard-heavy puzzle which perplexed teams with four-guard attacks--a la Villanova in 2006-- garnering a berth in the Section I championship at the County Center.

"I thought I got screwed over last year," says Pihotta.

"It's all good. I'm on the team now and doing my job. I had to prove that I
should have made the team last year, so I just show them what I could do this year."

Pihotta showed a near-capacity crowd at Lakeland High School what he's capable of during the Hornets' 62-46 trouncing of crosstown rival Yorktown Wednesday. The senior dropped a game-high 22 points on the strength of six three-pointers.

Pihotta's outside shot smoked the nets at the same pace that a European tourist smokes cigarettes outside of a New York City bar. Early and often, that is.

With the Pi-HOT-a-hand, the senior drilled 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, spotting up and getting open looks thanks mainly to newly-minted point guard Savahn Steadman.

Steadman, elevated to the starting point guard slot to help trigger the Hornets' running game, doled out a career-high 11 dimes. After playing a limited minutes on the Junior Varsity last season, Steadman has embraced his role as the souped-up offense's engineer...