Thursday, February 28, 2008

Predicting the winners

The WPIAL slate's been wiped clean after incorrectly picking Peters Township to defeat Upper St. Clair in the Class AAAA title game at Palumbo. I've missed on the Indians' last three games and talk of the Varsity Letters jinx has surfaced once again.

It's now time to pick local winners in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs.

Class AAAA
Moon over Canon-McMillan
Class AA
South Fayette over Cranberry
Bishop McCort over Monessen
Class A
Bentworth over Southern Fulton

Class AAAA
Peters Township over New Castle
Class AA
Bishop McCort over Washington
Class A
Monessen over Ferndale

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pitt's "Terrible" Tribute

For those attending tonight's Pitt-Cincinnati men's basketball game:

The University of Pittsburgh is encouraging all fans attending tonight’s Pitt-Cincinnati men’s basketball game at the Petersen Events Center to bring a “Terrible Towel” in honor of broadcasting icon Myron Cope, a 1951 graduate of Pitt who passed away today at the age of 79.

Cope, the longtime analyst voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the creator of The Terrible Towel in 1975. Cope also served one season (1983) as color analyst for Panthers football, working alongside future Steelers partner Bill Hillgrove.

Pitt and Cincinnati will tip at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tough guys

After reading O-R staff writer F. Dale Lolley's story () on UFC fighter and former Waynesburg High multi-sport standout Josh Koscheck, I got to thinking about other tough guys I've covered since joining the paper in 1999.

A couple football players that immediately come to mind are Waynesburg's Lanfer Simpson and a couple guys from Wash High - Dan Mozes and Tommy Sypula. Carmichaels' Bobby Hathaway also fits the mold. He destroyed people in high school, as did Monessen's Mick Williams. I'd also throw California's Donte Valentino into the mix. To break the tackles he does at his size, speaks to his toughness and desire to compete.

So which legit tough guys am I missing?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

PIAA basketball sites

The PIAA released its sites and times for the first round of the basketball playoffs. Here is where the local teams are playing:

Class AAAA
Canon-McMillan (18-8) vs. Moon (20-7) at North Allegheny High School, 3 p.m. Saturday
Class AA
South Fayette (20-6) vs. Cranberry (17-10) at Clarion University, 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Monessen (19-6) vs. Bishop McCort (20-5) at Central Cambria High School (Ebensburg), 7 p.m. Saturday
Class A
Bentworth (17-8) vs. Southern Fulton at Chestnut Ridge High School (Bedford County), 6 p.m. Friday

Class AAAA
Peters Township (20-8) vs. New Castle (19-6) at North Hills High School, 6 p.m. Friday
Class AA
Washington (24-2) vs. Bishop McCort (26-2) at Charleroi High School, 6 p.m. Friday
Class A
Monessen (26-1) vs. Ferndale (22-5) at North Hills High School, 4 p.m. Saturday

Friday, February 22, 2008

Canon-Mac vs. Moon, Part III

Pittsburgh Central Catholic trailed Moon for much of the second half during Friday night’s WPIAL Class AAAA championship game at the Palumbo Center but the Vikings rallied for a 55-54 victory.
Due to Central Catholic’s win, Canon-McMillan (18-8) draws Moon (20-7) in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Saturday, March 1 with a site and time to be determined.
It’s the first trip to the state playoffs for the Big Macs, who split their season series with Moon. The Tigers won the Section 4 championship, while C-M finished second.

Bentworth draws Southern Fulton

Serra Catholic’s 76-61 victory over Wilkinsburg in the WPIAL Class A boys basketball championship means Bentworth enters the PIAA playoffs as the fourth-place team from District 7.
It also means the Bearcats (17-8) will play Southern Fulton (20-7), the District 5 champions, in the first round Friday, Feb. 29 with a site and time to be determined.
According to the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, the game will be played at Chestnut Ridge or Bedford.
Southern Fulton defeated Shade in the D5 title game, 42-29. Shade came in averaging 70 points per game but had 13 at halftime.

Predicting the winner

A weak 2-2 showing during the semifinals hurt the win percentage. Heading into the WPIAL championships, I'm 25-9 during the postseason.

There's only one game to pick this time, so much deliberation and thought went into the selection.

WPIAL Class AAAA girls championship
Peters Township (20-7) over Upper St. Clair (21-5)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PT final set

The WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball final is set.

Upper St. Clair (21-5) plays Peters Township (20-7) at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

APB, Where are they now?

The Varsity Letters' last All Points Bulletin was issued for former Peters Township hoops standout Eric Lang. The post received no replies. Luckily, moments before the Peters Township-Mt. Lebanon girls game Tuesday, Shaun Lacey approached and informed me that Lang's parents own a South Hills bakery. As soon as the Varsity Letters makes a visit (gave up icing for Lent), we'll post with an update.

The latest APB goes out for former Washington girls basketball player Ebony Thomas.

Thomas was the leading scorer at least once for the Prexies circa late 1990s but transfered to Oliver High School (District 8) before her senior year.

Anyone knowing of Thomas' whereabouts is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.

Davis throwback, part II

Remember folks, the Varsity Letters is accepting e-mails for the Ultimate Throwback. We need photos of readers sporting their best throwback jersey.

To date, a fella named Greg Novak offered to send in a photo of himself wearing a vintage Somerset High School soccer jersey. The Varsity Letters is hoping for some better threads.

Once again, here's Washington resident G.L. Riley, surrounded by his family, wearing a Brian Davis Pitt jersey.

E-mail pics to

Wise decision

Chartiers Valley High School athletic director Frank Vulcano Jr. is a favorite among local media. He's always been a gracious host and he takes care of us grunts.

Vulcano also makes good decisions.

Chartiers Valley hosted the WPIAL Class AA semifinal between Beaver Falls and North Catholic as well as a Girls AA semi between South Park and Washington Wednesday night. For those who have never been to CV, the gym is a two-story deal.

Students were sent upstairs to cheer for their respective teams. For the high schoolers, it might have been an inconvenience but it prevented abusive behavior from student sections.

In other words, thanks to a heads-up decision at Chartiers Valley, there was no chance to duplicate the happenings of last Saturday's South Fayette-Jeannette contest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Predicting the winners

After a 5-2 weekend (silly me for not going with my initial instinct and picking the Peters Township girls), the record is 23-7 heading into the semifinals.

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Peters Township
Class AA
Washington over South Park
Class A
Monessen over Vincentian Academy

Class A
Wilkinsburg over Bentworth

A hot topic

Here's the full copy of the column being linked to and discussed by many media outlets and message boards:

Click to read the column on O-R Online

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Associated Press
HARRISBURG, - A Pennsylvania high school basketball referee died of an apparent heart attack after calling an overtime playoff game.

The District 3 game in Lewisberry had just ended Thursday when 50-year-old Tim Bartholomew slumped over in a chair in the locker room. Officials started CPR and called an ambulance. Officials say Bartholomew was taken to Harrisburg Hospital but could not be revived.

Bartholomew was calling a game between Hershey and Boiling Springs at Red Land High.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Avella's big shots

At Avella, it's big news when a sports team qualifies for the WPIAL playoffs.
The girls basketball team has done so in seven of the past eight years. Last year, the boys basketball team qualified and the Eagles shocked powerhouse Duquesne in the first round before losing to WPIAL finalist California in the quarterfinals.

Neither of those accomplished what Avella's rifle team did Friday. Avella, one of the smallest schools in the district, won the WPIAL team rifle championship a day after Eagles shooter Robbie Gagliani won his second-straight individual title (Note: he was one of seven shooters to tie for first).

The WPIAL title was not only the first for Avella, in its fifth year of fielding a rifle team, but the first for the Eagles in any team sport since the football program won the 1961 championship.

If you are counting, that's a 47 year wait between WPIAL titles.

Here's a link to F. Dale Lolley's story in Saturday's Observer-Reporter: Click here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The ultimate throwback

Time for a new segment at the Varsity Letters. We're calling this the Ultimate Throwback. It's been inspired by a throwback worn by Washington resident G.L. Riley at Thursday night's Prexies' playoff doubleheader.

Riley sported a Pitt Brian Davis jersey. Davis, a former Wash High superstar, was the nation's top recruit when he chose the Panthers. Davis lettered at Pitt in 1985.

The photo was taken by O-R photo editor Stan Diamond.

Riley and family spared a few moments and let me click a few pics with my cell phone as well. Being a bit challenged electronically, I'm having trouble getting them posted but as soon as I figure things out, I'll get them up.

The Varsity Letters is asking readers to send pics of their best throwbacks. The best ones will be posted.

Send your throwback pics to

Predicting the winners

The Varsity Letters correctly picked five of six winners during Wednesday and Thursday's games. With a healthy 18-5 record, it's time to tackle the quarterfinals.

Class AAAA
Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Canon-McMillan
Class AA
Jeannette over South Fayette, Monessen over Bishop Canevin
Class A
Bentworth over California

Class AAAA
Butler over Peters Township
Class AA
Washington over Beaver
Class A
Monessen over Geibel

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So close

South Fayette athletic director Joe Farkas is one of the good guys, just ask any other area athletic director, the kids at South Fayette or the multitude of media members who have covered events at the impressive on-campus facilities.

Farkas is also an expert at making good hires.

Football coach Joe Rossi, in his first year, led the Lions to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. Soccer coach Rob Eldridge, in his first year at SF after a successful run at Peters Township, also got the Lions to the playoffs.

Over six years ago, he tabbed then-assistant Rich Bonnaure as his replacement for the boys basketball team. South Fayette is in the Class AA quarterfinals and poised to be a power for years to come.

The same could be said for the girls basketball team. South Fayette, under the direction of second-year coach Jim Dudas, nearly beat OLSH, the No. 1 seed in the Class AA bracket, Wednesday night.

The Lions took the Chargers to overtime before losing, 37-33. OLSH played without leading scorer Devin McGrath but the way South Fayette executed Dudas' game plan, it figures to have been close regardless.

With only one senior, who did not play against OLSH, South Fayette could climb toward the top of Class AA.

"It's a tremendous group of kids. They spell team the right way," Dudas said. "They are willing to take the sacrifices it takes. This (loss) will hurt for quite a while. The fact is we did not accomplish our goals for this year. I expect them to come back a hungrier team."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Official malfunction

Anyone who follows college basketball has probably heard about the end-of-game happenings during Monday's Rutgers-Tennessee women's game.

It got me too thinking ... with as many times as I've seen poorly officiated games, I can't recall a single instance where I felt a team was cheated at the end of a game. I'm sure some of you out there have a few gripes though and I'd like to hear them.

One of my favorite stories involves the Uniontown boys basketball being "cheated" of a WPIAL championship due to a scoring error. This happened in the early 1980s and the person keeping the official book has not been to Uniontown since. (Side note, he was supposed to ride with me to a Peters Township at Uniontown game in 2000 or 2001 and opted out at the last minute).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

APB, Where are they now?

The Varsity Letters' last APB, issued for former Char-Houston girls hoopster Emily Briggs, was answered. Briggs, a one-time O-R Player of the Year, is studying sports management at Cal Pa. according to an anonymous poster. Thanks for the update.

With all the hoopla over C-M boys basketball in recent days, it's only appropriate to issue our latest APB for a former Big Macs standout. This week, we're looking for Justin Moore.

Moore started as a freshman at Bethel Park before transfering to Canon-McMillan, where he was the centerpiece of Rick Bell's first teams there. Moore, at 6-6, had great post moves, could shoot a short-range jumper and he immediately added several wins to the Big Macs' schedule.

Despite his talents, Moore never got C-M to the playoffs, though they came close twice. Moore's senior year was filled with turmoil but he rebounded with a year of prep school and a starting gig on the Edinboro men's basketball team.

Anyone knowing where Moore is these days is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.

Predicting the winners

The Varsity Letters went 13-4 on local playoff games over the first weekend, including a perfect mark picking girls winners.

Here's predictions for Wednesday's and Thursday's games:
Class AA
Greensburg Central Catholic over Washington, Monessen over Ford City, South Fayette over Shady Side Academy

Class AAA
Ringgold over Blackhawk
Class AA
OLSH over South Fayette, Washington over Seton-La Salle

Mother Nature strikes

Mother Nature unleashed a snow storm on the region that forced the WPIAL to reschedule several postseason events - it's also the first time this school year that weather made itself a pest.

All WPIAL Class AAA and Class AA boys and girls basketball games scheduled for today (Tuesday) have been moved to Thursday with the same time and sites as originally scheduled. There is one exception: The tripleheader scheduled for Baldwin High School (boys Serra Catholic vs. Trinity Christian, girls Elizabeth Forward vs. West Allegheny and boys Greensburg-Salem vs. Montour) have been moved to Gateway High School at the sames times.

Also, the 2008 WPIAL Team Rifle championships, which includes Trinity and Avella, has been moved from Tuesday to Friday.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A slight correction

Hey, it's easy to get excited after such a big win:

"According to Big Macs coach Rick Bell, the win was Canon-McMillan's first playoff victory in school history."

Canon-McMillan won a preliminary round game in the 1996 Quad-A playoffs before losing to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the first round.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The forum is yours...

OK Big Macs fans, aka Canon Crazies, you've called yourselves the best fans in the WPIAL on this board. Now, the Varsity Letters leaves the floor open to you.

We're asking those in attendance or listening on WJPA-AM 1450 to offer their perspective on the first-round playoff win and Charles Murphy's last-second winner from just inside half-court.

Feel free to describe, brag, boast or offer your predictions on the quarterfinals versus Pittsburgh Central Catholic. Did you rush the court? Did you hug mommy? Did you act a fool? Do tell.

A few of you have talked the talk all winter, now it's time for the rest to join the fun.

Friday night lights

Deep thoughts following the first night of the WPIAL basketball playoffs:

1. Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney is the best player I've seen this year, by far. The 6-5 sophomore guard is explosive, a great shooter, plays under control, can not be stopped getting to the basket and has incredible court vision.
He reminds me of Herb Pope, but a step faster.
His speed suprised Bentworth, which beat Sewickley in overtime.
"From what we saw of him on game tape, I had no idea he was that fast," Bentworth coach Bob Kennedy said.

2. Speaking of Bentworth, the Kennedy brothers (Jon and Joe) willed the Bearcats to a well-deserved victory. Both were dominant in completely different ways. Jon was a defensive menace while Joe made several clutch shots.

3. Too bad the varsity playing career of Burgettstown's Brenden Bongiorni had to end on a buzzer-beating loss to Bishop Canevin. Bongiorni was a four-year starter and played everything from point guard to center. A very underrated student-athlete.

4. Burgettstown's Ed Goetz, in my humble opinion, is one of the area's best coaches. After speaking with some athletic directors and others, I'm not the only one with the opinion. Here's hoping his Blue Devils start winning playoff games at the buzzer.

5. Next week, California versus Bentworth in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals. That's going to be a great game.

6. I did not realize that Avella had just two seniors on its girls roster. The Eagles were not in Vincentian Academy's league yesterday but, a year from now, they'll be much improved.

7. And I couldn't agree with veteran coach Jim Matalik more. If Avella becomes a good shooting team, it could make a deep playoff run in 2009.

8. According to Bob Kennedy, the Bentworth boys are healthy. The last time that happened, the Bearcats were the Observer-Reporter's No. 2 Class A team.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Predicting the winners

The incredibly massive WPIAL basketball playoffs begin tonight and I'll be at West Allegheny High School taking in a boys-girls doubleheader.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the Sewickley Academy-Bentworth Class A boys game for several reasons.

First, the Bearcats were the Observer-Reporter's No. 2 team in the classification at one point and were ranked through most of the year before a late-season slump greatly affected their postseason seedinng. Led by the Kennedy brothers, the Bearcats are a senior-drive group but they don't have much postseason experience. Second, this will be my first glimpse of Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney, a 6-5 sophomore guard who already has caught the eye of Pitt, among others. He may be the best player in the bracket.

So, with the large number of local teams playing, I figured why not predict winners in the local games while there's still a decent amount of area reps remaining.

Here we go (all games Friday or Saturday):

Class AAAA
Canon-McMillan over Shaler, Peters Township over Franklin Regional
Class AAA
Hampton over Ringgold
Class AA
Burgettstown over Bishop Canevin
Class A
Carmichaels over St. Joseph's, Union over Mapletown, California over Elderton, Sewickley Academy over Bentworth

Class AAAA
Peters Township over Fox Chapel
Class AAA
Southmoreland over McGuffey
Class AA
South Fayette over Apollo-Ridge, Wilkinsburg over Charleroi, South Park over Beth-Center
Class A
Serra Catholic over Carmichaels, Monessen over California, Quigley Catholic over Mapletown, Vincentian Academy over Avella

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

More recruiting craziness

Here's a link to one of the more bizarre recruiting stories:

Click here to check it out.


It's National Letter of Intent Day (I know because my e-mail inbox is blowing up thanks to the WVU sports department) and the big news across the WPIAL, and throughout the country, is that there is no news in the world of Jeannette senior Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor, who was reported to chose Ohio State over Michigan today, has not made a decision. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are his final three.

Locally, several schools were active this moring.

At Trinity, three linebackers signed. First-team all-staters Andrew Sweat (Ohio State) and Mike Yancich (Penn State) are locked in, as is Brandon Weaver (Ohio University).

Two other high profile athletes not playing football are Chartiers-Houston golfer John Popeck (Maryland) and Peters Township soccer player Shane Pruitt (Lafayette). Pruitt was named the state player of the year.

The fax machine at South Fayette was also busy this morning. Kicker Drew Hareza signed with Old Dominion. Zach Patterson signed with Lafayette and Jon Taglianetti officially agreed to walk-on at Pitt.

Andrew Taglianetti, Jon's twin brother and an all-state player for Pittsburgh Central Catholic, is also headed for Pitt. Andrew was originally offered a grayshirt, which means he would not enroll until January and have his scholarship kick in at that point. With the news that Pitt lost quarterback recruit Zach Stoudt (Cliff Stoudt's son) to Louisville, there's a possibility he'll be part of Pitt's class today.

I'll be headed to Pitt's NLI presser later today at Heinz Field and will check into the Taglianetti situation.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

WPIAL basketball playoff pairings

WPIAL boys basketball playoffs
Class AAAA
First round
Friday Feb. 8
Central Catholic vs. Latrobe at Penn State-Allegheny 8 p.m.
North Allegheny vs. Gateway at Fox Chapel 8 p.m.
Norwin vs. Butler at North Allegheny 8 p.m.
Moon vs. Plum at North Hills 8 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
McKeesport vs. Hempfield at Plum 1:30 p.m.
Seneca Valley vs. Upper St. Clair at North Hills 1:30 p.m.
Canon-McMillan vs. Shaler at North Allegheny 3 p.m.
Franklin Regional vs. Peters Township at Gateway 1:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 or 16
Sites and times to determined
McKeesport-Hempfield winner Seneca Valley-Upper St. Clair winner; Central Catholic-Latrobe winner vs. Canon McMillan-Shaler winner; North Allegheny-Gateway winner vs. Norwin-Butler winner; Moon-Plum winner vs. Franklin Regional-Peters Township winner.

Class AAA
Preliminary round
Friday Feb. 8
Valley vs. Mt. Pleasant at Hempfield 8 p.m.
Ambridge vs. West Mifflin at Chartiers Valley 8 p.m.
Laurel Highlands vs. South Park at Belle Vernon 8 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
Hampton vs. Ringgold at North Allegheny Noon
Thomas Jefferson vs. Derry Area at Ringgold 1:30 p.m.
First round
Feb. 12 or 13
Sites and times to be determined
Chartiers Valley vs. Valley-Mt. Pleasant winner; Indiana vs. Steel Valley; Uniontown vs. Ambridge-West Mifflin winner; Blackhawk vs. Laurel Highlands-South Park winner; Hopewell vs. Hampton-Ringgold winner; Belle Vernon vs. Keystone Oaks; Highlands vs. Thomas Jefferson-Derry Area winner; Greensburg Salem vs. Montour.

Class AA
Preliminary round
Friday Feb. 8
Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Northgate at South Fayette 8 p.m.
Quaker Valley vs. Summit Academy at Aliquippa 8 p.m.
Burgettstown vs. Bishop Canevin at Trinity 8 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
Brentwood vs. Springdale at Fox Chapel 3 p.m.
Seton-La Salle vs. Brownsville at Chartiers Valley 1:30 p.m.
Center vs. West Shamokin at Fox Chapel Noon
Shady Side Academy vs. Neshannock at Highlands 3 p.m.
Mohawk vs. Ford City at New Castle 1:30 p.m.
First round
Feb. 12 or 13
Sites and times to be determined
Beaver Falls vs. Brentwood-Springdale winner; Washington vs. Greensburg C.C.-Northgate winner; North Catholic vs. Quaker Valley-Summit Academy winner; Riverside vs. Seton-La Salle-Brownsville winner; Jeannette vs. Center-West Shamokin winner; South Fayette vs. Shday Side Academy-Neshannock winner; Aliquippa vs. Burgettstown-Bishop Canevin winner; Monessen vs. Mohawk-Ford City winner.

Class A
Preliminary round
Saturday Feb. 9
Trinity Christian vs. Geibel at South Park 3 p.m.
First round
Feb. 12 or 13
Site and time to be determined
Serra Catholic vs. Trinity Christian-Geibel winner
Friday Feb. 8
Union vs. Mapletown at Keystone Oaks 8 p.m.
California vs. Elderton at Charleroi 8 p.m.
Sewickley Academy vs. Bentworth at West Allegheny 8 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
St. Joseph vs. Carmichaels at Monessen 2:30 p.m.
Lincoln Park vs. Leechburg at Highlands Noon
Wilkinsburg vs. Cornell at Northgate 1:30 p.m.
Clairton vs. Monaca at South Park Noon
Feb. 15 or 16
Serra Catholic-Trinity Christian-Geibel winner vs. St. Joseph-Carmichaels winner; Lincoln Park-Leechburg winner vs. Union Mapletown winner; Wilkinsburg-Cornell winner vs. Clairton-Monaca winner; California-Elderton winner vs. Sewickley Academy-Bentworth winner.

WPIAL Basketball
Class AAAA Girls
Friday Feb. 8
Latrobe vs. Oakland Catholic at Penn State-Allegheny 6:30 p.m.
New Castle vs. Bethel Park at North Allegheny 6:30 p.m.
Woodland Hills vs. Uniontown at Hempfield 6:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
Norwin vs. Seneca Valley at North Hills 3 p.m.
Upper St. Clair vs. North Alleghey Noon
Mt. Lebanon vs. McKeesport at Plum Noon
Butler vs. Hempfield at Plum 3 p.m.
Fox Chapel vs. Peters Township at Gateway Noon
Feb. 15 or 16
Site and times to be determined
Norwin/Seneca Valley winner vs. Latrobe/Oakland Catholic winner
New Castle/Bethel Park winner vs. Upper St. Clair/North Allegheny winner
Mt. Lebanon/McKeesport winner vs. Woodland Hills/Uniontown winner
Butler/Hempfield winner vs. Fox Chapel/Peters Township winner
Feb. 19 or 20
Sites and times to be determined
Quarterfinal winners
Feb. 22 or 23
at A.J. Palumbo Center

Class AAA Girls
Preliminary Round
Friday Feb. 8
West Allegheny vs. Moon at North Hills 6:30 p.m.
Southmoreland vs. McGuffey at Trinity 6:30 p.m.
Blackhawk vs. Belle Vernon at Chartiers Valley 6:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
Thomas Jefferson vs. Laurel Highlands at Ringgold Noon
Derry Area vs. Keystone Oaks at Ringgold 3 p.m.
Mars vs. Franklin Regional at Gateway 3 p.m.
Highlands vs. Steel Valley at Fox Chapel 1:30 p.m.
First round
Feb. 12 or 13
Sites and times to be determined
Thomas Jefferson/Laurel Highlands winner vs. Hampton
Mt. Pleasant vs. Ambridge
Indiana vs. Derry/Keystone Oaks winner
Elizabeth-Forward vs. West Allegheny/Moon winner
West Mifflin vs. Southmoreland/McGuffey winner
Ringgold vs. Blackhawk/Bell Vernon winner
Hopewell vs. Mars/Franklin Regional winner
Chartiers Valley vs. Highlands/Steel Valley winner
Feb. 15 or 16
Sites and times to be determined
Feb. 19 or 20
Sites and times to be determined
Feb. 22 or 23
at A.J. Palumbo Center

Class AA
Preliminary Round
Friday Feb. 8
Sto-Rox vs. Northgate at South Fayette 6:30 p.m.
South Park vs. Beth-Center at Belle Vernon 6:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
South Fayette vs. Apollo Ridge at North Allegheny 1:30 p.m.
Bishop Canevin vs. Mohawk at New Castle 3 p.m.
Wilkinsburg vs. Charleroi at Northgate 3 p.m.
Ford City vs. Deer Lakes at New Castle Noon
Seton La Salle vs. Quaker Valley at Chartiers Valley 3 p.m.
Shady Side Academy vs. Jeannette at Highlands 1:30 p.m.
Brownsville vs. Riverview at Chartiers Valley Noon
First Round
Feb. 12 or 13
Sites and times to be determined
OLSH vs. South Fayette/Apollo Ridge winner
Bishop Canevin/Mohawk winner vs. Sto-Rox/Northgate winner
Riverside vs. Wilkinsburg/Charleroi winner
Beaver Falls vs. Ford City/Deer Lakes winner
Washington vs. Seton La Salle/Quaker Valley winner
Beaver vs. Shady Side Academy/Jeannette winner
Greensburg C.C. vs. Brownsville/Riverview winner
Neshannock vs. South Park/Beth-Center winner
Feb. 15 or 16
Sites and times to be determined
Feb. 19 or 20
Sites and times to be determined
Feb. 22 or 23
at A.J. Palumbo Center

Class A
First Round
Friday Feb. 8
Avonworth vs. Rochester at Aliquippa 6:30 p.m.
Mt. Alvernia vs. Clairton at Fox Chapel 6:30 p.m.
Monessen vs. California at Charleroi 6:30 p.m.
Quigley Catholic vs. Mapletown at Keystone Oaks 6:30 p.m.
Vincentian vs. Avella at West Allegheny 6:30 p.m.
Saturday Feb. 9
North Catholic vs. Cornell at Northgate Noon
Serra Cathloic vs. Carmichaels at Monessen 1 p.m.
Geibel Catholic vs. Monaca at South Park 1:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 or 16
Sites and times to be determined
North Catholic/Cornell winner vs. Avonworth/Rochester winner
Serra Catholic/Carmichaels winner vs. Mt. Alvernia/Clairton winner
Monessen/California winner vs. Geibel Catholic/Monaca winner
Quigley Catholic/Mapletown winner vs. Vincentian/Avella winner
Feb. 19 or 20
Sites and times to be determined
Feb. 22 or 23
at A.J. Palumbo Center

WPIAL girls basketball playoffs forecast

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. Norwin, 2. Mt. Lebanon, 3. Butler, 4. New Castle, 5. Upper St. Clair
Best first-round game: Latrobe vs. Oakland Catholic. Hard to believe, Oakland Catholic is a No. 9 seed.
Best chance for upset: Peters Township over Fox Chapel.
Sleeper: Oakland Catholic
Championship: Mt. Lebanon over New Castle

Class AAA
Top seeds: 1. Hampton, 2. West Mifflin, 3. Hopewell, 4. Indiana, 5. Elizabeth Forward
Best first-round game: Ringgold vs. Blackhawk-Belle Vernon winner. The Rams haven't played their best basketball the last couple weeks.
Best chance for upset: Highlands-Steel Valley winner over Chartiers Valley.
Sleeper: Indiana
Championship: West Mifflin over Indiana

Class AA
Top seeds: 1. OLSH, 2. Washington, 3. Greensburg Central Catholic, 4. Riverside, 5. Beaver Falls
Best first-round game: Riverside vs. Wilkinsburg. If Wilkinsburg beats Charleroi, it puts scoring machine Darche Jackson in the first round.
Best chance for upset: Ford City over Beaver Falls, if FC beats Deer Lakes.
Sleeper: South Park
Championship: OLSH over Washington

Class A
Top seeds: 1. North Catholic, 2. Monessen, 3. Quigley Catholic, 4. Serra Catholic, 5. Mt. Alvernia
Best first-round game: Mt. Alvernia vs. Clairton. The Bears might be able to hang around.
Best chance for upset: Monaca over Geibel.
Sleeper: Vincentian Academy
Championship: North Catholic over Monessen

WPIAL boys basketball playoffs forecast

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. McKeesport, 2. North Allegheny, 3. Moon, 4. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 5. Canon-McMillan
Best first-round game: Canon-McMillan vs. Shaler. The Big Macs are good but they rarely blow teams out.
Best chance for upset: No. 11 Peters Township over No. 6 Franklin Regional.
Sleeper: Peters Township
Championship: McKeesport over Moon

Class AAA
Top seeds: 1. Chartiers Valley, 2. Hopewell, 3. Highlands, 4. Uniontown, 5. Blackhawk
Best first-round game: Greensburg-Salem vs. Montour. The Spartans are awfully athletic for a No. 11 seed.
Best chance for upset: Valley over Chartiers Valley
Sleeper: Indiana
Championship: Highlands over Blackhawk

Class AA
Top seeds: 1. Beaver Falls, 2. Jeannette, 3. Aliquippa, 4. North Catholic, 5. Riverside
Best first-round game: Washington vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (if GCC beats Northgate in prelims). When the Prexies are on, they're very good.
Best chance for upset: Burgettstown-Bishop Canevin winner over Aliquippa.
Sleeper: Monessen and Seton-La Salle
Championship: Beaver Falls over Jeannette

Class A
Top seeds: 1. Serra Catholic, 2. Wilkinsburg, 3. California, 4. Lincoln Park, 5. Union
Best first-round game: Sewickley Academy vs. Bentworth. Sewickley's Tom Droney and Bentworth's Jon Kennedy are two of the best in Class A.
Best chance for upset: Monaca over Clairton
Sleeper: Sewickley Academy
Championship: Serra Catholic over Wilkinsburg

O-R Basketball Rankings

The pairings meeting is tonight. Let's see if the WPIAL uses my rankings as a guide.

Class AAAA
1. McKeesport 17-2
2. North Allegheny 21-2
3. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 19-4
4. Moon 16-6
5. Canon-McMillan 16-7
Class AAA
1. Highlands 18-4
2. Chartiers Valley 22-2
3. Uniontown 19-3
4. Hopewell 17-5
5. Blackhawk 18-5
Class AA
1. Beaver Falls 19-3
2. Jeannette 16-4
3. Riverside 22-1
4. North Catholic 21-2
5. South Fayette 18-5
Class A
1. Serra Catholic 21-2
2. Wilkinsburg 12-9
3. California 15-5
4. Union 14-6
5. Lincoln Park 14-6

Class AAAA
1. Norwin 23-0
2. Mt. Lebanon 21-2
3. Butler 22-2
4. Upper St. Clair 18-4
5. New Castle 18-4
Class AAA
1. West Mifflin 20-3
2. Hampton 22-2
3. Hopewell 19-3
4. Elizabeth Forward 20-4
5. Indiana 21-3
Class AA
1. OLSH 21-2
2. Washington 22-1
3. Bishop Canevin 17-6
4. Greensburg Central Catholic 16-7
5. South Park 16-7
Class A
1. North Catholic 19-4
2. Monessen 23-0
3. Geibel Catholic 17-5
4. Serra Catholic 15-5
5. Vincentian Academy 14-8

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wacky week

The past week, I covered three high school basketball games:
Tuesday – Monessen at Washington boys;
Thursday – Canon-McMillan at Peters Township girls;
Friday – Canon-McMillan at Peters Township boys.

Going into each game, I believed the winners would be Monessen, Peters Township girls and Canon-McMillan boys. The winners were Washington, Canon-McMillan girls and Peters Township boys.

Go figure.

As someone posted earlier today, maybe I'm creating a new sports jinx. After praising Monessen on this site, the Greyhounds lost. After praising the C-M boys, the Big Macs lost.

No matter, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all three games. They were well-played, tense and the boys games had fantastic crowds. It's amazing what happens to a high school team when a packed house is in attendance. The atmosphere at the C-M vs. PT boys game was the best I've seen at a local high school hoops game in years.

Here's hoping it keeps up.

Friday, February 1, 2008

APB, Where are they now?

A few too many days have passed since the Varsity Letters issued a much-anticipated All Points Bulletin for a former local scholastic standout. So without further ado, we're looking for former Chartiers-Houston girls basketball legend Emily Briggs.

Briggs earned multiple first-team all-district honors, was an Observer-Reporter Girls Basketball Player of the Year, finished her career as the Bucs' leading scorer and rebounder and was an all-state selection.

She earned a scholarship to play at Division I Wofford but was out of there a couple years later. I bumped into Briggs, very briefly, at Ernie's Freestyle on Main Street in Washington on the night West Virginia beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Anyone with information on Briggs' whereabouts is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.