Saturday, February 28, 2009

WPIAL hoops

With 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter of the WPIAL Class AAAA girls championship, Mt. Lebanon leads Fox Chapel, 46-22. Hard to believe but the Blue Devils are about to win their first WPIAL title.

There's about 40 minutes to tip-off for the Quad-A boys championship between Peters Township (22-2) and its Section 4 rival Mt. Lebanon (21-4). The two split the season series.

Here's a couple interesting pregame facts:

1. The winner ensures the section will produce a fifth WPIAL champion the past six years. Chartiers Valley (2004), Upper St. Clair (2005), Mt. Lebanon (2006) and Bethel Park (2007) previously won titles.

2. Washington County has not won a WPIAL basketball championship - boys or girls – since 1992, when Wash High won the girls Class AAA title.

3. The last time a boys team from Washington County won a WPIAL title came in 1990, when Ringgold won in Quad-A and Wash High won the double-A crown.

4. Peters Township has its largest student section of the year, but it's not as large as the Lebo contingent. Several Blue Devils students are dressed in formal wear, with a few fellas wearing pink, orange and green suits.

APB, Where are they now?

Long-time followers of the local high-school basketball scene know that Peters Township produced some strong boys basketball players from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. A couple weeks ago, the Varsity Letters attempted to track down one of those players, former defensive stopper Steve Daniele.

Today, less than seven hours from Peters Township playing for its first WPIAL boys basketball championship, we're looking for another.

The Varsity Letters issues an All Points Bulletin for former Indians basketball standout Henry Klinar.

Klinar was a key cog on some strong Peters Township teams before an excellent playing career at Westminster College from 1997-2001. Klinar is Westminster's all-time leader in field goals made (655)and ranks fifth in team history with 1,581 points.

Anyone knowing Klinar's whereabouts is urged to contact the Varsity Letters.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Catching up

There's been a lot of activity the past week. Time to catch up with local goings-on.

1. Peters Township is playing for its first WPIAL boys basketball championship Saturday night at 9 p.m. versus Mt. Lebanon. The Indians advanced through three rounds thanks to the great play of Nick Wilcox and a great supporting cast.

Every time Peters Township needs someone to make a big play – whether it's Steve Radke, Craig Wolcott, Jon Kovac, Corey Wilcox or Phil Horensky – the play gets made.

2. California High School hired Brady Barbero as head football coach at its last school board meeting. Barbero was an assistant coach for Joe Kuhns, who took the head coaching position at Waynesburg.

Barbero's hire looks like a good fit for the Trojans from this perspective.

Plus, Brady's dad is John Barbero, who has been the long-time public address announcer for the Pittsburgh Penguins. No word on whether John will be the P.A. for California home games.

3. Trinity's Chelsea Sumney became the first cross country runner in school history to receive a full scholarship when she signed a letter of intent to run at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Shaina Sumney, Chelsea's twin sister, will join the UNC-G team on a partial scholarship.

4. Can't wait to see how the local Class AA teams – South Fayette boys and girls, Washington boys and girls – fare in the state playoffs. All four proved capable of making a run with their play in the WPIAL tournament.

5. Bad timing on the resignation of Steve Bucci as Canon-McMillan baseball coach. Bucci was a good coach with good talent at the right time and it led to a state championship. Here's wishing Bucci the best of luck in the future and here's hoping Canon-McMillan finds a quick soloution to keep a promising season on track.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Little big men

Here's an interesting read from one of my favorite sports writers –'s Pat Forde:

Makes an interesting argument in the big school-small school debate.

Picking the winners, WPIAL semifinals

The Varsity Letters slipped slightly during the quarterfinals, correctly predicting winners in 23 of the games. For the entire WPIAL postseason, the record is at 99-25 (79.8 percent).

Class AAAA
Peters Township over Seneca Valley, Mt. Lebanon over North Hills
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley over Highlands, Hampton over Moon
Class AA
South Fayette over Jeannette, North Catholic over Monessen
Class A
Clairton over Sewickley Academy, Serra Catholic over Neshannock

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Oakland Catholic, Fox Chapel over Gateway
Class AAA
New Castle over South Park, West Mifflin over Indiana
Class AA
Sto-Rox over OLSH, Seton-La Salle over South Fayette
Class A
North Catholic over Vincentian Academy, Mt. Alvernia over Quigley Catholic

Local semifinal capsules

Class AAAA
Peters Township (21-2) vs. Seneca Valley (16-7)
Date, time, place: Wednesday, 8 p.m., North Allegheny High School
Key wins: Peters Township – McKeesport, Washington, Upper St. Clair (twice), Mt. Lebanon, Central Catholic; Seneca Valley – Aliquippa, North Hills, Central Catholic, Upper St. Clair
Leading scorers: Peters Township, Nick Wilcox (21.4), Craig Wolcott (16.0); Seneca Valley, C.J. Brown (14.0).
Bits and pieces: Peters Township has never played for a WPIAL boys basketball championship. … Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta is in his fifth year with the Raiders. Giannotta served as Peters Township’s head coach for three years following a success stint at Sewickley Academy, where he won a PIAA Class A title. … Brown is a Maryland football recruit and considered one of the top quarterbacks prospects in Pennsylvania.
Last 10: Peters Township (9-1), Seneca Valley (8-2).

Class AA
South Fayette (21-3) vs. Jeannette (21-3)
Date, time, place: Wednesday, 8 p.m., Baldwin High School
Key wins: South Fayette – Monessen, Aliquippa, Greensburg Central Catholic, North Catholic, Washington; Jeannette – Monessen, Greensburg Central Catholic (twice), Quaker Valley.
Leading scorers: South Fayette, Mike Lamberti (15.9), Pat Zedreck (11.9), Mike Burroughs (11.5); Jeannette, Jordan Hall (23.0).
Bits and pieces: Jeannette beat South Fayette, 64-54, in last year’s WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals at Baldwin. That game went to overtime. … South Fayette was won 18 consecutive, while Jeannette has won 14 in a row. … The semifinal features two teams ranked in the top five according to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Jeannette is No. 3, while South Fayette is No. 5. … Some consider Hall to be the top player in WPIAL Class AA. He is also an Ohio State football recruit.
Last 10: South Fayette (10-0), Jeannette (10-0)

Monessen (15-8) vs. North Catholic (22-2)
Date, time, place: Wednesday, 8 p.m., Canon-McMillan High Scool
Key wins: Monessen – Washington, Mohawk, Beaver Falls; North Catholic – South Fayette, Schenley, Seneca Valley, Greensburg Central Catholic, Aliquippa.
Leading scorers: Monessen, Terrance Stepoli (13.0), North Catholic, Jesse Long (16.2), Henry Pwono (14.1).
Bits and pieces – Monessen, the No. 10 seed, has the second most losses of any boys semifinalist (Class AAA Moon, 15-9). … The Greyhounds did not win a non-section game until the playoffs but played a brutal schedule that included South Fayette, Jeannette, Uniontown, Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park. … North Catholic may be the best interior team in the classification.
Last 10: Monessen (8-2), North Catholic (8-2).

Class AA
South Fayette (20-5) vs. Seton-La Salle (20-4)
Date, time, place: Wednesday, 6 p.m., Baldwin High School
Key wins: South Fayette – Washington, OLSH, Serra Catholic, Burrell, Beaver. Seton-La Salle – OLSH (twice), South Fayette (twice), Chartiers Valley, Riverside.
Leading scorers: Seton-La Salle, Kristen Gattuso (14.5).
Bits and pieces: South Fayette is in the semifinals for the first time since 1989. … Both teams play in Section 3-AA and Seton-La Salle swept the regular season series, 47-39 and 37-30. … The Lions are allowing an average of 32.7 points in three playoff games. For the season, South Fayette allows an average of 30.8 points per game, second lowest in the WPIAL to Burrell (30.0). … Gattuso is the daughter of Greg Gattuso, an assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Pitt.
Last 10: South Fayette (8-2); Seton-La Salle (9-1).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bucci resigns from C-M

Last Thursday, Steve Bucci resigned as head coach of the Canon-McMillan baseball team, less than a year after managing the Big Macs to the 2008 PIAA championship, the school's first state baseball title.

In two seasons at Canon-McMillan, Bucci posted a 35-14 record with two playoff appearances. He previously coached at South Park and Serra Catholic.

Bucci resigned in order to spend more time with his family, including son Brayden, who was born four days after the Big Macs defeated Spring-Ford, 10-2, to win the PIAA title.

"It built up over time," Bucci said. "Last season was exhausting, from winning the state championship then having a baby. I never felt grounded. Things became more hectic. I wanted to kick back, be a father and watch him grow up."

For more details, check Tuesday's Observer-Reporter.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Playoff musings, part II

Random thoughts from a basketball-filled weekend:

  1. I was fouled six times while sitting court side at the Wash High-South Fayette boys quarterfinal. The game was that physical.
  2. The officiating in the game was bad, at best. And it's not because South Fayette took 45 free throws to 11 for Washington. That's because the Lions attacked the basket at all costs, while Washington often settled for short jumpers. The problem I saw with the officiating was inconsistency. Both teams got away with a lot during the first half. Suddenly, the refs were calling everything in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, it was back to a free-for-all.
  3. That said, I thought South Fayette's players adjusted to how the game was being called slightly better than Wash High's.
  4. I also expect South Fayette and Washington to make a run in the state tournament. Each played the type of defense that wins playoff games.
  5. The Wash High girls outplayed top-seed Sto-Rox for all but the final five minutes of the first quarter. As well as Washington played, the Prexies shot terribly.
  6. Still, the performance makes me think this girls team has the best chance at a run in states since Amber Harris was a senior.
  7. Kudos to the South Fayette girls. Who would have thought the Lions would put up 57 on the No. 2 seed just days after scoring 29 in an overtime game?
  8. Not me.
  9. The Peters Township boys are very good and so is senior Nick Wilcox. As good as Wilcox has been, and he's a lock to be on the Observer-Reporter's all-district first-team, the two reasons the Indians may win their first WPIAL boys basketball title is the improved play of point guard Craig Wolcott and center Steve Radke.
  10. Try this one on: Peters Township plays Seneca Valley in the semifinals. SV is coached by former PT head coach Victor Giannotta.
  11. Here's another one: South Fayette faces top-seed Jeannette in the boys semifinals. Last year, those two met in the quarterfinals in the most eventful high school basketball game I've ever covered.
  12. Peters Township senior Emily Correal may be the best high school girls basketball player in Washington County history. At the very least, she's right up there with Elizabeth Proudfit and Amber Harris of Wash High. It's also a tremendous credit to her play that the Indians came close to reaching the WPIAL semifinals. PT lost most of the players who surrounded Correal during last year's run.
  13. Finally, let's here from Monessen fans. WJPA's Bob Gregg told me that the Greyhounds rallied from 15 down in the 4th against Beaver Falls to win. It was shocking news. Monessen fans, speak up. Did you stay until the end? What was it like? How did Beaver Falls react? The Varsity Letters needs details on one of the great comebacks in the rich history of Monessen basketball.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Picking the winners, WPIAL quarterfinals

The Varsity Letters posted a respectable 76-17 record in first-round/preliminary playoffs games. That's an 81.7 percent clip. Not too shabby.

Here's the picks for the WPIAL quarterfinals:

Class AAAA
Peters Township over Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Seneca Valley over Upper St. Clair, Latrobe over North Hills, Mt. Lebanon over McKeesport
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley over Blackhawk, Highlands over Valley, New Castle over Moon, Greensburg-Salem over Hampton
Class AA
Jeannette over Quaker Valley, South Fayette over Washington, Beaver Falls over Monessen, North Catholic over Aliquippa
Class A
Sewickley Academy over Union, Clairton over Lincoln Park, Serra Catholic over OLSH, Neshannock over Carmichaels

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Baldwin, Oakland Catholic over Penn Hills, Peters Township over Gateway, Bethel Park over Fox Chapel
Class AAA
New Castle over Mt. Pleasant, South Park over Hampton, Indiana over Chartiers Valley, West Mifflin over Mars
Class AA
Sto-Rox over Washington, OLSH over Jeannette, Beaver over South Fayette, Seton-La Salle over Riverside
Class A
North Catholic over Rochester, Vincentian Academy over Clairton, Fort Cherry over Quigley Catholic, Serra Catholic over Mt. Alvernia

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rivalry revisited

With a little less than three minutes remaining in South Fayette's first-round playoff win over New Brighton Wednesday night, the starting five from Wash High descended down the bleachers on the New Brighton side of North Allegheny High School's gymnasium.

A large contingent of South Fayette students, dressed in white, spotted the Prexies players and busted into a chant.

"We want Wash High."

Washington senior Mark Wise and sophomore Zach Barnes smiled and waved to the Lions' student section. Rest assured South Fayette, Wash High wants South Fayette too.

Welcome to the best basketball rivalry in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania.

South Fayette (20-3), winners of 17 straight and the No. 4 seed in the WPIAL Class AA boys basketball playoffs, gets No. 5 seed Wash High (21-2) in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Baldwin High School. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Don't be surprised if it ends up being the best game in a loaded Class AA bracket.

"I can't wait," South Fayette senior guard Joe Silko said Wednesday. "We have a lot of respect for Wash High. We play those guys probably eight times every summer. We know each other real well."

Wash High, which allows just 38.3 points per game, hosted South Fayette on Dec. 9 and won, 62-53. The two meet every year in a non-section game that usually plays out like it's for a section championship.

"We feel like we owe them one," Silko said.

In the first meeting, Prexies senior Nick Bryant had a big game and is coming off a 27-point performance during a first-round victory over West Shamokin.
"It's a great game every time we play," Bryant said after Tuesday night's win, and expecting that the Lions would beat New Brighton a day later. "They're a great team."

The winner advances to the semifinals and plays the winner of the Jeannette-Quaker Valley quarterfinals. The winner also draws a lot closer to a WPIAL title. Washington has won four during the 28-year coaching tenure of Ron Faust. South Fayette, an annual playoff team, is looking for its first WPIAL basketball title.

One thing to look for is the health of South Fayette sophomore Mike Lamberti, who tweaked an ankle late in Wednesday's victory. After the game, Lions coach Rich Bonnaure said Lamberti is fine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goodbye horse-collar

Here's an interesting piece uncovered from The Lineup Card, a sports blog based in York County. Looks like the horse-collar tackle at the high school level is a thing of the past.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

APB, Where are they now?

The Peters Township boys basketball team looked impressive during its first round WPIAL Class AAAA playoff win over Penn-Trafford last Friday. The Indians rolled despite the absence of junior Corey Wilcox, arguably their best defensive player.

Seeing Wilcox sitting on the bench during the game conjured up visions of another defensive stopper in Peters Township's past. It's time to track the player down.

During the 1999-2000 season Peters Township was the top seed in the WPIAL Class AAAA bracket, just like this year's group. Offensively, that team was led by Eric Lang. Defensively, the Indians were led by Steve Daniele.

A dogged defender, Daniele could lock down a point guard, shooting guard or top scorer. He was the type of player coaches need to make postseason runs.

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

Monday, February 16, 2009

O-R boys/girls rankings

Class AAAA
1. Peters Township 20-2
2. Mt. Lebanon 19-4
3. Latrobe 19-3
4. Seneca Valley 15-7
5. Upper St. Clair 17-6
Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 22-0
2. Hampton 18-4
3. Greensburg-Salem 19-4
4. New Castle 17-5
5. Highlands 17-6
Class AA
1. Beaver Falls 18-4
2. South Fayette 19-3
3. Jeannette 19-3
4. Washington 20-2
5. North Catholic 20-2
Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 18-4
2. Serra Catholic 19-2
3. OLSH 16-5
4. Neshannock 16-6
5. Clairton 13-6

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 22-0
2. Bethel Park 21-2
3. Butler 19-2
4. Fox Chapel 18-4
5. Baldwin 16-6
Class AAA
1. New Castle 20-2
2. Hampton 17-4
3. Indiana 19-3
4. West Mifflin 16-6
5. South Park 16-6
Class AA
1. Sto-Rox 20-1
2. Beaver 21-1
3. Ford City 20-2
4. Seton-La Salle 18-4
5. Greensburg Central Catholic 17-4
Class A
1. North Catholic 18-5
2. Quigley Catholc 19-2
3. Serra Catholic 15-6
4. Fort Cherry 18-5
5. Vincentian Academy 15-8

Picking the winners, Monday-Wednesday edition

A total of 60 WPIAL basketball playoff games were played over the weekend and the Varsity Letters went 49-11 (81.7 percent) in picking the winners. Time to finish out the first round games.

Class AAA
Chartiers Valley over Mars, Laurel Highlands over Valley, New Castle over Belle Vernon, Hampton over West Mifflin
Class AA
Jeannette over Rochester, Quaker Valley over Ford City, South Fayette over New Brighton, Washington over West Shamokin, Beaver Falls over Seton-La Salle, Monessen over Mohawk, North Catholic over Greensburg Central, Shady Side Academy over Aliquippa
Class A
Union over Beth-Center, Lincoln Park over Vincentian, OLSH over Bentworth

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over McKeesport, Butler over Gateway
Class AAA
New Castle over McGuffey, Hampton over Hopewell, South Park over Elizabeth Forward, Indiana over Highlands, West Mifflin over Knoch, Ambridge over Mars
Class AA
Sto-Rox over East Allegheny, Greensburg Central over Washington, Ford City over Jeannette, OLSH over Shady Side Academy, Beaver over Apollo-Ridge, South Fayette over Burrell, Seton-La Salle over Avonworth, Riverside over Bishop Canevin
Class A
North Catholic over Union, Vincentian over Geibel,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Playoff musings

I covered three WPIAL basketball playoffs games over the weekend - Peters Township boys vs. Penn-Trafford on Friday night, the Trinity boys vs. West Mifflin on Saturday followed by the Beth-Center vs. Jeannette girls game. Each game captured my interest in different ways.

Every time I watch Nick Wilcox play basketball, I'm more impressed with his skill set and understand why there are three or four colleges coaches waiting to talk to the Peters Township senior after every game.

Against Penn-Trafford, Wilcox was simply dominant as he scored 23 points to go with 14 rebounds and six assists. My favorite part of his game is his patience. He doesn't force bad shots and lets the offense come to him. Against Penn-Trafford, he knew he had to rebound more due to the absence of 6-6 Derek Redding and he did. What will make PT ttough to beat in the WPIAL bracket is the emergence of senior Steve Radke. A member of the PT boys golf team which finished second in the state, Radke plays like the meanest big man in the WPIAL.

Peters Township is not invincible but it's going to take a supreme effort to beat them.

Trinity has a nice group of coachable kids but the Hillers need a scorer to complement sophomore Josh Valentic. Trinity plays tough defense and is patient on offense, all hallmarks of a well-coached team. Another scorer could turn the Hillers into a section champion.

The Beth-Center girls scored points in bunches during the first half of its playoff game against Jeannette and the Bulldogs surprised everyone but themselves when they held a 35-18 third-quarter lead. They ended up losing 49-47 on a last-second layup by Jeannette's standout player, .

Beth-Center brings back most of its top players next year and the guess here is they'll be the favorites to win Section 5-AA. The Bulldogs have height, depth and good perimeter shooting. That's always a nice combination.

Now, they just have to figure out how to win in the postseason.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Memo to athletic directors

I spent much of Saturday at Ringgold High School for a WPIAL playoff tripleheader featuring the Carmichaels boys and girls and the Burgettstown boys, and one aspect of the day in particular really impressed me.

As writers, we like to be pampered, especially Mike. This includes, but is not limited to, getting us seats in the press box or courtside, having media packets prepared, having a spread of some kind, or ideally, all of the above.

Lloyd Price hasn't been the athletic director at Ringgold very long, but he's already competing with Chartiers Valley's Frank Vulcano for title of "Best Athletic Director in the PIAA."

When I got to my seat on press row for the tripleheader, I saw a packet awaiting me that included, but was not limited to, previews for each game, schedules and rosters for each team, brackets for each classification in boys and girls, scoresheets (one per game), and a detailed history of coal mining in southwestern Pennsylvania. (Okay, maybe that last part wasn't in it.) But the parcel was roughly 241 pages long and was very impressive.

Plus, there was a hospitality room set up for the media's use.

All in all, Lloyd Price's operation gets two thumbs up, and here's one writer hoping Ringgold hosts more WPIAL events.

(There, Mike, I posted, now get off my back.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Boys/girls scoring leaders

Final regular season statistics
Player, Team Games Points Ave.
Niemiec, Beth-Center 8 190 23.8
Z. Bellhy, Fort Cherry 21 466 22.2
N. Wilcox, Peters Twp. 21 441 21.0
Heckman, Avella 22 402 18.3
McIlvaine, Char-Houston 22 372 16.9
Obade, Charleroi 20 332 16.6
Wolcott, Peters Twp. 21 341 16.2
Lamberti, S. Fayette 21 338 16.1
Bryant, Washington 22 352 16.0
Davis, Canon-Mac 19 287 15.1
Bassi, Ringgold 22 331 15.0
Bielecki, Burgettstown 22 327 14.9
Whited, Beth-Center 19 275 14.5
Wilson, Washington 19 263 13.8
Turner, Fort Cherry 21 286 13.6
Green, Carmichaels 19 259 13.6
Carlisle, Avella 21 284 13.5
Valentic, Trinity 20 266 13.3
N. Bellhy, Fort Cherry 21 276 13.1
Hagan, Canon-Mac 21 273 13.0
McCombs, Carmichaels 19 247 13.0
Porterfield, Mapletown 16 205 12.8
T. Stepoli, Monessen 17 207 12.2
Bonnet, Canon-Mac 21 253 12.0
Zedreck, S. Fayette 22 262 11.9
Burroughs, S. Fayette 22 252 11.5
Jansante, Bentworth 20 227 11.4
Czulewicz, McGuffey 18 206 11.4
R. Anderson, Washington 19 215 11.3
Jones, Char-Houston 21 230 11.0
Lapkowicz, Carmichaels 19 207 10.9
Silko, S. Fayette 22 238 10.8
Henry, South Fayette 21 218 10.4
Scott, Char-Houston 20 208 10.4
Gottardi, Avella 18 187 10.4
McKnight, Trinity 21 214 10.2
Hoye, Bentworth 18 181 10.1

Final regular season statistics
Player, Team Games Points Ave.
Floyd, Washington 21 457 21.8
Correal, Peters Twp. 21 423 20.1
Schartner, Ringgold 22 384 17.5
Duke, Carmichaels 22 374 17.0
Miles, Fort Cherry 22 368 16.7
S. Stepoli, Monessen 22 356 16.2
Novak, Mapletown 20 307 15.4
Sowers, Beth-Center 17 260 15.3
Wagner, California 15 207 13.8
Pattison, McGuffey 21 287 13.7
Diggs, Monessen 19 252 13.3
Lee, Charleroi 21 269 12.8
Schober, McGuffey 21 259 12.3
Papa, Avella 20 241 12.1
Ritzer, Bentworth 21 245 11.7
Yamber, Avella 21 245 11.7
Iacovino, Charleroi 21 239 11.4
Barr, Avella 18 196 10.9
T. Bonacci, Burg. 20 216 10.8
Shrader, Monessen 19 204 10.7
K. Rosemeier, C-H 22 233 10.6
Kennedy, Bentworth 19 196 10.3
Hansen, Canon-Mac 21 215 10.2
Yourchik, Jeff-Morgan 18 180 10.0

All games reflect those reported to the Observer-Reporter. To report missing games, call (724) 222-2200 Ext. 2430.

Picking the winners, weekend edition

All predicted games are played either Friday or Saturday.

WPIAL basketball playoffs
Class AAAA
Peters Township over Penn-Trafford, Fox Chapel over Seneca Valley, Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Hempfield, Upper St. Clair over Penn Hills, Latrobe over Bethel Park, North Hills over Franklin Regional, Mt. Lebanon over Kiski, McKeesport over North Allegheny
Class AAA
Valley over Hopewell, Mars over Elizabeth Forward, Montour over Belle Vernon, West Mifflin over Trinity, Highlands over Indiana, Blackhawk over Thomas Jefferson, Moon over Uniontown, Greensburg-Salem over Ambridge
Class AA
Ford City over Avonworth, Quaker Valley over Springdale, Burrell over New Brighton, Fort Cherry over West Shamokin, Seton-La Salle over Shenango, Greensburg Central Catholic over Sto-Rox, Shady Side Academy over Charleroi, Burgettstown over Rochester, Monessen over Steel Valley
Class A
Sewickley Academy over Geibel, Clairton over Monaca, Serra Catholic over Avella, Neshannock over St. Joseph's, Carmichaels over Cornell

Class AAAA
Gateway over Penn-Trafford, McKeesport over Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel over Shaler, Baldwin over North Allegheny, Norwin over Penn Hills, Oakland Catholic over Upper St. Clair, Hempfield over Peters Township, Bethel Park over Kiski
Class AAA
Kittanning over McGuffey, Hopewell over Belle Vernon, Highlands over Yough, South Park over Blackhawk, Knoch over Laurel Highlands, Ambridge over Uniontown, West Allegheny over Mt. Pleasant, Chartiers Valley over Thomas Jefferson
Class AA
East Allegheny over Charleroi, Greensburg Central Catholic over Freeport, OLSH over Aliquippa, Avonworth over Mohawk, Beaver Falls over Bishop Canevin, Jeannette over Beth-Center, Brownsville over Apollo-Ridge, South Fayette over Neshannock
Class A
Fort Cherry over Winchester-Thurston, Rochester over Carmichaels, Monessen over Clairton, Quigley Catholic over California, Serra Catholic over Sewickley Academy, Mt. Alvernia over Avella

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WPIAL Class A basketball playoffs breakdown

Class A
Top seeds: 1. Sewickley Academy, 2. Serra Catholic, 3. Neshannock, 4. Clairton
Bits and pieces: Serra Catholic averaged 88.0 points per game in its final three games of the regular season. ... Clairton is the enigma of the bracket. The talented Bears defeated Serra Catholic in the first meeting then lost 80-36 at home. Clairton adds to the confusion by closing the regular season with a win over North Catholic – the No. 3 seed in Class AA. ... Carmichaels coach Don Williams is the dean of the bracket. He's in his 33rd season as the Mikes' head coach and he topped 400 career victories earlier this year. ... Sewickley Academy guard Tom Droney is being recruited by Notre Dame, Pitt and Davidson.
Sleeper: OLSH. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has top scorers in Jim Orie and Anthony Scappe plus the Chargers are coached by Mike Rodriguez, who guided Windber (District 5) to great success during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Championship: Serra Catholic over Clairton.

Top seeds: 1. North Catholic, 2. Quigley Catholic, 3. Serra Catholic, 4. Monessen
Bits and pieces: A few eyebrows raised when Quigley Catholic received the No. 2 seed but the Spartans have won 13 straight. On the flip side, only two of those teams (Rochester and Vincentian Academy) have winning records. ... Two of North Catholic's losses came to other No. 1 seeds. It lost to New Castle (AAA) by four and Sto-Rox (AA) by three. ... Behind the play of Jordan Duke (17.0 ppg), Carmichaels lost only twice to a Class A opponent – both games were against Monessen. ... At 6-15, the California girls have the worst record of any of the 150 WPIAL playoff teams.
Sleeper: Fort Cherry. At 17-5, not many No. 7 seeds have a better record or a better chance to make a run. The Rangers, led by Marissa Miles (16.7 ppg) have quality wins over Washington, Brownsville (twice) and Serra Catholic.
Championship: North Catholic over Mt. Alvernia.

WPIAL Class AA basketball playoffs breakdown

Class AA
Top seeds: No. 1 Jeannette, No. 2 Beaver Falls, No. 3 North Catholic, No. 4 South Fayette
Bits and pieces: Jeannette is the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion. Last year's team was led by Terrelle Pryor. Whether the Jayhawks deserve the seeding is debatable as their top non-section wins were against Monessen and West Shamokin. ... Following the WPIAL football playoffs, Beaver Falls senior Todd Thomas guaranteed the Tigers would go undefeated. Beaver Falls lost four games but is considered the favorite by many. ... At 20-2, Washington has the talent to make a run in coach Ron Faust's final year. The continued emergence of junior Troy Wilson keys the Prexies' chances. ... South Fayette has won 16 in a row.
Sleeper: Washington. The Prexies beat South Fayette earlier this year and the two could meet again in the quarterfinals.
Championship: Beaver Falls over South Fayette.

Top seeds: 1. Sto-Rox, 2. Beaver, 3. Seton-La Salle, 4. Ford City
Bits and pieces: Washington, the No. 8 seed, enters the playoffs on an 11-game win streak and in senior Jocelyn Floyd arguably features the top defensive player in the WPIAL – boys or girls. ... Floyd is a Duquesne recruit while Ford City's Marisa Wolfe is a Penn State recruit. ... Sto-Rox has beaten top teams ranging from Upper St. Clair to North Catholic. ... Beaver's Carly Vendemia will join Floyd at Duquesne.
Sleeper: Riverside.
Championship: Sto-Rox over Seton-La Salle.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WPIAL Class AAA basketball playoffs breakdown

Class AAA
Top seeds: 1. Chartiers Valley, 2. New Castle, 3. Hampton, 4. Laurel Highlands
Bits and pieces: Chartiers Valley is the only undefeated WPIAL boys team and the Colts - without a starter taller than 6-2 - average an astonishing 86.4 points per game. CV also averages 12 three-pointers per game. ... Blackhawk is the defending champion but the Cougars struggled down the stretch. ... Thomas Jefferson easily won Section 5 and enter the playoffs at 17-5 but were seeded eighth and face Blackhawk in the first round. ... The field features several of the WPIAL's top offensive teams, including Highlands. ... Trinity is making its first postseason since the 2002-03 season.
Sleeper: Greensburg-Salem
Championship: Chartiers Valley over Greensburg-Salem

Top seeds: 1. New Castle, 2. Indiana, 3. West Mifflin, 4. Hampton
Bits and pieces: Top-seeded New Castle beat Butler - the No. 2 seed in Class AAAA - last week. ... Hampton is the defending champion but the field also includes South Park, which won the WPIAL Class AA title last year. The Eagles finished fourth in Section 4, arguably the toughest in the classification with West Mifflin, West Allegheny and Chartiers Valley. ... Hampton averages less than 50 points per game and played in Section 1, where only Mars averaged more than 50 points. ... McGuffey, once one of the worst girls teams in the WPIAL, is making its second straight playoff appearance for second-year head coach Mike Calvert.
Sleeper: South Park
Championship: West Mifflin over New Castle

WPIAL Class AAAA basketball playoffs breakdown

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. Peters Township, 2. Latrobe, 3. Mt. Lebanon, 4. Seneca Valley
Bits and pieces: Seneca Valley is coached by former Peters Township coach Victor Giannotta, who won a PIAA Class A title at Sewickley Academy. ... Is it probable that Peters Township will not have junior guard/forward Corey Wilcox for the postseason. According to Indians coach Gary Goga, Wilcox has an ankle injury. ... Franklin Regional's Nick Novak is the WPIAL's leading scorer at 28.1 ppg. In the opening round of last year's tournament, Peters Township held Novak to nine points. ... Central Catholic is the defending champion. ... McKeesport senior Zeke Marshall is 7-0 and an Akron recruit. For whatever reasons, Marshall is sometimes forgotten in the Tigers' game plan.
Sleeper: Central Catholic
Championship: Peters Township over Mt. Lebanon

Top seeds: 1. Mt. Lebanon, 2. Butler, 3. Bethel Park, 4. Norwin
Bits and pieces: Mt. Lebanon is the only undefeated girls team in the WPIAL. ... Peters Township reached the final as the No. 11 seed last year. The Indians beat No. 2 Butler in the quarterfinals a year ago. This year, Peters Township is seeded No. 11 and could meet Butler in the quarterfinals. ... Bethel Park's only two losses are to Mt. Lebanon.
Sleeper: Peters Township
Championship: Mt. Lebanon over Bethel Park

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WPIAL basketball playoff pairings

WPIAL boys playoffs
Class AAAA
First round
Friday, Feb. 13
Peters Township vs. Penn-Trafford at Baldwin, 8 p.m.; Seneca Valley vs. Fox Chapel at North Hills, 8 p.m.;
Saturday, Feb. 14
Pittsburgh Central Catholic vs. Hempfield at Plum, Noon; Penn Hills vs. Upper St. Clair at Baldwin, 1:30 p.m.; Latrobe vs. Bethel Park at North Allegheny, 3 p.m.; North Hills vs. Franklin Regional at Plum, 3 p.m.; Mt. Lebanon vs. Kiski at North Allegheny, Noon; McKeesport vs. North Allegheny at Fox Chapel, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Sat. Feb. 21
Peters Township-Penn-Trafford winner vs. Pittsburgh Central Catholic-Hempfield winner; Seneca Valley-Fox Chapel winner vs. Penn Hills-Upper St. Clair winner; Latrobe-Bethel Park winner vs. North Hills-Franklin Regional winner; Mt. Lebanon- Kiski winner vs. McKeesport-North Allegheny winner.

Class AAA
Preliminary round
Friday, Feb. 13
Valley vs. Hopewell at South Fayette, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Mars vs. Elizabeth Forward at Valley, 3 p.m.; Montour vs. Belle Vernon at North Hills, 1:30 p.m.; Trinity vs. West Mifflin at Southmoreland, 1:30 p.m.
First round
Friday, Feb. 13
Highlands vs. Indiana at Fox Chapel, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Thomas Jefferson vs. Blackhawk at Canon-McMillan, 1:30 p.m.; Moon vs. Uniontown at Chartiers Valley, Noon; Greensburg Salem vs. Ambridge at Chartiers Valley, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 or Wednesday, Feb. 18
Chartiers Valley vs. Mars-Elizabeth Forward winner; Laurel Highlands vs. Valley-Hopewell winner; New Castle vs. Montour-Belle Vernon winner; Hampton vs. Trinity-West Mifflin winner.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Saturday, Feb. 21
Chartiers Valley-Mars-Elizabeth Forward winner vs. Thomas Jefferson-Blackhawk winner; Laurel Highlands-Valley-Hopewell winner vs. Highlands-Indiana winner; New Castle-Montour-Belle Vernon winner vs. Moon-Uniontown winner; Hampton-Trinity-West Mifflin winner vs. Greensburg Salem-Ambridge winner.

Class AA
Preliminary round
Friday, Feb. 13
Ford City vs. Avonworth at Knoch, 8 p.m.; Quaker Valley vs. Springdale at North Allegheny, 8 p.m.; New Brighton vs. Burrell at Ambridge, 8 p.m.; West Shamokin vs. Fort Cherry at Northgate, 8 p.m.; Seton-La Salle vs. Shenango at Cornell, 8 p.m.; Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Sto-Rox at Hampton, 8 p.m.; Shady Side Academy vs. Charleroi at Yough, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Burgettstown vs. Rochester at Ringgold, 3 p.m.; Monessen vs. Steel Valley at Belle Vernon, 3 p.m.;
First round
Tuesday, Feb. 17 or Wednesday, Feb. 18
Jeannette vs. Burgettstown-Rochester winner; Ford City-Avonworth winner vs. Quaker Valley-Springdale winner; South Fayette vs. New Brighton-Burrell winner; Washington vs. West Shamokin-Fort Cherry winner; Beaver Falls vs. Seton-La Salle-Shenango winner; Mohawk vs. Monessen-Steel Valley winner; North Catholic vs. Greensburg Central Catholic-Sto-Rox winner; Aliquippa vs. Shady Side Academy-Charleroi winner.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Saturday, Feb. 21
Jeannette-Burgettstown-Rochester winner vs. Ford City-Avonworth-Quaker Valley-Springdale winner; South Fayette-New Brighton-Burrell winner vs. Washington-West Shamokin-Fort Cherry winner; Beaver Falls-Seton-La Salle-Shenango winner vs. Mohawk-Monessen-Steel Valley winner; North Catholic-Greensburg Central Catholic-Sto-Rox winner vs. Aliquippa-Shady Side Academy-Charleroi winner.

Class A
First round
Saturday, Feb. 14
Sewickley Academy vs. Geibel at Keystone Oaks, Noon; Clairton vs. Monaca at Belle Vernon, 12 p.m.; Serra Catholic vs. Avella at Keystone Oaks, 3 p.m.; Neshannock vs. St. Joseph at Hampton, 2:30 p.m.; Carmichaels vs. Cornell at Ringgold, Noon.
Monday, Feb. 16
Beth-Center vs. Union at Northgate, 8 p.m.; Lincoln Park vs. Vincentian at North Hills, 8 p.m.;
Tuesday, Feb. 17
OLSH vs. Bentworth, TBA.

Class AAAA
Preliminary round
Friday, Feb. 13
Gateway vs. Penn-Trafford at Baldwin, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Pine-Richland vs. McKeesport at Fox Chapel, 3 p.m.
First round
Fox Chapel vs. Shaler at North Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
North Allegheny vs. Baldwin at Fox Chapel, Noon; Norwin vs. Penn Hills at Baldwin, Noon; Oakland Catholic vs. Upper St. Clair at Baldwin, 3 p.m.; Hempfield vs. Peters Township at Plum, 1:30 p.m.; Bethel Park vs. Kiski at North Allegheny, 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 or Wednesday, Feb. 18
Mt. Lebanon vs. Pine-Richland-McKeesport winner; Butler vs. Gateway-Penn-Traffford winner.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Saturday, Feb. 21
Mt. Lebanon-Pine-Richland-McKeesport winner vs. North Allegheny-Baldwin winner; Norwin-Penn Hills winner vs. Oakland Catholic-Upper St. Clair winner; Butler-Gateway-Penn-Trafford winner vs. Hempfield-Peters Township winner; Bethel Park-Kiski winner vs. Fox Chapel-Shaler winner.

Class AAA
Preliminary round
Friday, Feb. 13
Kittanning vs. McGuffey at Cornell, 6:30 p.m.; Belle Vernon vs. Hopewell at South Fayette, 6:30 p.m.; Yough vs. Highlands at Fox Chapel, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Blackhawk vs. South Park at Canon-McMillan, 12 p.m.; Laurel Highlands vs. Knoch at Valley, 1:30 p.m.; Ambridge vs. Uniontown at Chartiers Valley, 1:30 p.m.
First round
Saturday, Feb. 14
West Allegheny vs. Mt. Pleasant at North Hills, 3 p.m.; Thomas Jefferson vs. Chartiers Valley at Canon-McMillan, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 and Wednesday, Feb. 18
New Castle vs. Kittanning-McGuffey winner; Hampton vs. Belle Vernon-Hopewell winner; Elizabeth Forward vs. Blackhawk-South Park winner; Indiana vs. Yough-Highlands winner; West Mifflin vs. Laurel Highlands-Knoch winner; Mars vs. Ambridge-Uniontown winner.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Saturday, Feb. 21
New Castle-Kittanning-McGuffey winner vs. West Allegheny-Mt. Pleasant winner; Hampton-Belle Vernon-Hopewell winner vs. Elizabeth Forward-Blackhawk-South Park winner; Indiana-Yough-Highlands winner vs. Thomas Jefferson-Chartiers Valley winner; West Mifflin-Laurel Highlands-Knoch winner vs. Mars-Ambridge-Uniontown winner.

Class AA
Preliminary round
Friday, Feb. 13
East Allegheny vs. Charleroi at Yough, 6:30 p.m.; Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Freeport at Hampton, 6:30 p.m.; OLSH vs. Aliquippa at Ambridge, 6:30 p.m.; Avonworth vs. Mohawk at Knoch, 6:30 p.m.; Beaver Falls vs. Bishop Canevin at North Allegheny, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Jeannette vs. Beth-Center at Southmoreland, 3 p.m.; Brownsville vs. Apollo-Ridge at Southmoreland, Noon; South Fayette vs. Neshannock at Hampton, 1 p.m.
First round
Monday, Feb. 17 or Tuesday, Feb. 18
Sto-Rox vs. East Allegheny-Charleroi winner; Washington vs. Greensburg Central Catholic-Freeport winner; Ford City vs. Jeannette-Beth-Center winner; Shady Side Academy vs. OLSH-Aliquippa winner; Beaver vs. Brownsville-Apollo-Ridge winner; Burrell vs. South Fayette-Neshannock winner; Seton-La Salle vs. Avonworth-Mohawk winner; Riverside vs. Beaver Falls-Bishop Canevin winner.
Sto-Rox-East Allegheny-Charleroi winner vs. Washington-Greensburg Central Catholic-Freeport winner; Ford City-Jeannette-Beth-Center winner vs. Shady Side Academy-OLSH-Aliquippa winner; Beaver-Brownsville-Apollo-Ridge winner vs. Burrell-South Fayette-Neshannock winner; Seton-La Salle-Avonworth-Mohawk winner vs. Riverside-Beaver Falls-Bishop Canevin winner.

Class A
First round
Friday, Feb. 13
Fort Cherry vs. Winchester Thurston at Northgate, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Rochester vs. Carmichaels at Ringgold, 1:30 p.m.; Monessen vs. Clairton at Belle Vernon, 1:30 p.m.; Quigley vs. California at Valley, Noon; Serra vs. Sewickley Academy at Keystone Oaks, 1:30 p.m.; Mt. Alvernia vs. Avella at North Hills, Noon.
Monday, Feb. 16
North Catholic vs. Union at Northgate, 6:30 p.m.; Vincentian vs. Geibel at North Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 20 or Saturday, Feb. 21
North Catholic-Union winner vs. Rochester-Carmichaels winner; Monessen-Clairton winner vs. Vincentian-Geibel winner; Quigley-California winner vs. Fort Cherry-Winchester Thurston winner; Serra-Sewickley Academy winner vs. Mt. Alvernia-Avella winner.

Girls playoff field

The WPIAL basketball playoff pairings meeting is tonight and it is, without question, one of my least favorite events to cover. In recent years, it's also become a celebration of teams with 7-14 or 8-13 records parading as postseason participants.

That's where I have a big problem.

The WPIAL basketball playoff field is overcrowded and it's created a watered-down tournament that's catered to nothing more than selling as many tickets to as many games as possible. This year's girls playoffs is the perfect example of why too many teams get to the playoffs.

In Class AAAA, 18 teams qualified - two more than a full bracket of 16 teams. That creates two preliminary or "pigtail" games. At 8-14, Pine-Richland is part of the tournament. In Class AAA, a total of 22 teams are in the playoffs, including 7-15 Belle Vernon. In Class AA, a 9-12 Freeport team is among the 24 in the bracket. Class A is the only 16-team field. Of course, it includes California at 6-15, union at 8-12 and a 9-12 Sewickley Academy.

Of the 133 girls basketball teams in the WPIAL, 80 qualified for the playoffs. That's an astonishing 60.1 percent.

What's the point?

Might as well have an open tournament where every WPIAL team plays in the playoffs. Or, a better solution, is to trim the excess. If the number of sections remain the same, qualify the top two or three for the playoffs. Another possibility would be to create larger sections and send the top four teams.

Anyway, as we prepare for a gluttony of pigtail games and mismatched first-round contests, here's a rundown of the 80 girls teams in the playoffs:

Class AAAA
Baldwin (15-6), Bethel Park (20-2), Butler (19-2), Fox Chapel (17-4), Gateway (11-10), Hempfield (16-6), Kiski (12-9), McKeesport (12-10), Mt Lebanon (22-0), North Allegheny (13-9), Norwin (18-4), Oakland Catholic (15-7), Penn Hills (11-11), Penn-Trafford (11-11), Peters Township (12-9), Pine-Richland (8-14), Shaler (16-6), Upper St. Clair (12-10)
Class AAA
Ambridge (14-8), Belle Vernon (7-15), Blackhawk (11-11), Chartiers Valley (16-6), Elizabeth Forward (14-7), Hampton (17-4), Highlands (10-12), Hopewell (15-7), Indiana (19-3), Kittanning (14-7), Knoch (14-8), Laurel Highlands (14-8), Mars (17-5), McGuffey (11-11), Mt. Pleasant (17-5), New Castle (20-2), South Park (15-6), Thomas Jefferson (12-10), West Allegheny (16-6), West Mifflin (16-6), Uniontown (14-7), Yough (10-12)
Class AA
Aliquippa (11-10), Apollo-Ridge (16-5), Avonworth (15-6), Beaver (21-1), Beaver Falls (14-8), Beth-Center (14-7), Bishop Canevin (12-10), Brownsville (13-8), Burrell (16-5), Charleroi (14-8), East Allegheny (15-6), Freeport (9-12), Ford City (20-2), Greensburg Central Catholic (16-4), Jeannette (13-9), Mohawk (13-8), Neshannock (11-11), OLSH (15-7), Riverside (17-5), Seton-La Salle (18-4), Shady Side Academy (18-4), South Fayette (17-5), Sto-Rox (20-1), Washington (17-4)
Class A
Avella (15-6), California (6-15), Carmichaels (15-7), Clairton (10-9), Fort Cherry (17-5), Geibel Catholic (11-9), Monessen (17-5), Mt. Alvernia (13-9), North Catholic (17-5), Quigley Catholic (18-2), Rochester (16-6), Serra Catholic (14-6), Sewickley Academy (9-12), Union (8-12), Vincentian Academy (14-8), Winchester-Thurston (13-7)

Monday, February 9, 2009

O-R boys/girls basketball rankings

After eight days away from the high school courts, doesn't look like there was much shaekup in the Observer-Reporter boys and girls basketball rankings.

WPIAL boys
Class AAAA
1. Peters Township 19-2
2. Mt. Lebanon 17-4
3. Latrobe 18-3
4. Penn Hills 14-6
5. Upper St. Clair 16-6
Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 21-0
2. Hampton 18-4
3. New Castle 16-5
4. Laurel Highlands 17-5
5. Greensburg-Salem 18-4
Class AA
1. Beaver Falls 18-4
2. South Fayette 19-3
3. North Catholic 20-1
4. Washington 20-2
5. Jeannette 19-3
Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 17-4
2. Serra Catholic 18-2
3. OLSH 16-5
4. Neshannock 15-6
5. Clairton 11-6

WPIAL girls
Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 21-0
2. Bethel Park 19-2
3. Butler 19-2
4. Fox Chapel 16-4
5. Norwin 18-4
Class AAA
1. Indiana 19-2
2. New Castle 19-2
3. Hampton 17-4
4. West Mifflin 16-5
5. West Allegheny 16-6
Class AA
1. Sto-Rox 20-1
2. Beaver 21-1
3. Seton-La Salle 17-4
4. Ford City 20-2
5. Shady Side Academy 18-4
Class A
1. North Catholic 16-5
2. Quigley Catholic 20-2
3. Vincentian Academy 14-7
4. Fort Cherry 17-4
5. Monessen 17-5

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The playoff field

WPIAL section play is over, meaning the field for the boys and girls playoffs are established. In this blogger's opinion, the WPIAL should be ashamed of itself. There are way too many teams in the playoffs. Why play 20-22 regular season games to eliminate less than the field? Ridiculous. Shameful.

Worst of all, it creates way too many bad basketball games. Of course, a lot of people get to wear new t-shirts.

It's a topic we'll discuss more after I get to the girls playoffs.

For now, here's the boys field:
Class AAAA
Section 1
Latrobe (18-3), Kiski Area (13-8), Hempfield (13-8), Penn-Trafford (9-12)
Section 2
Penn Hills(14-6), McKeesport (13-8), Franklin Regional (14-7), Fox Chapel (13-8)
Section 3
Seneca Valley (14-7), North Hills (15-7), Central Catholic (13-8), North Allegheny (14-7)
Section 4
Peters Township (19-2), Mt. Lebanon (17-4), Upper St. Clair (16-6), Bethel Park (10-12)

Class AAA
Section 1
Hampton (18-4), Highlands (16-6), Valley (13-8), Mars (15-7)
Section 2
New Castle (16-5), Blackhawk (12-8), Ambridge (10-11), Hopewell (11-10)
Section 3
Laurel Highlands (17-5), Greensburg-Salem (18-4), Uniontown (15-5), Indiana (12-8)
Section 4
Chartiers Valley (21-0), Moon (13-9), West Mifflin (12-8), Montour (7-14)
Section 5
Thomas Jefferson (17-4), Trinity (11-10), Belle Vernon (14-7), Elizabeth Forward (8-13)

Class AA
Section 1
Ford City (16-6), West Shamokin (17-4), Burrell (9-11), Springdale (8-13)
Section 2
Mohawk (16-5), New Brighton (15-5), Rochester (13-7), Shenango (8-13)
Section 3
North Catholic (20-1), South Fayette (19-3), Seton-La Salle (12-10), Fort Cherry (14-7)
Section 4
Jeannette (19-3), Greensburg Central Catholic (15-7), Shady Side Academy (12-9), Steel Valley (6-12)
Section 5
Washington (20-2), Monessen (12-8), Burgettstown (15-7), Charleroi (14-7)
Section 6
Beaver Falls (18-4), Quaker Valley (15-5), Aliquippa (13-7), Sto-Rox (10-12), Avonworth (6-13)

Class A
Section 1
Neshannock (15-6), Lincoln Park (13-6), Union (12-8), Monaca (9-9)
Section 2
Carmichaels (17-4), Beth-Center (11-10), Bentworth (10-9), Avella (10-11)
Section 3
Serra Catholic (18-2), Clairton (11-6), St. Joseph (9-13), Geibel (11-10)
Section 4
Sewickley Academy (17-4), OLSH (16-5), Cornell (11-10), Vincentian Academy (11-10)

It's a girl

Greetings The Varsity Letters readers! After a week-long hiatus, I'm back. A lot happened personally over the past week. On Monday, Feb. 2 at 1:45 a.m., just hours after the Steelers' Super Bowl victory, my beautiful wife Erin gave birth to Anna Noel Kovak, a happy, healthy 7 lb. 6 oz. girl.

Being our first child, the past week has been filled with wonder, learning and lots of other stuff.

Over the past week I turned the blog over the co-worker Kevin Jacobsen. As you can see, his side job (we believe Kevin may be an international pimp or the inventor of post-it notes) got in the way. As Stone Cold Steve Austin used to say, "DTA" especially Canon-Mac grads whose last names start with Jacob.

Anyway, I'm back. A little more tired than before but determined to start updating the site on a regular basis as we head straight into the WPIAL basketball playoffs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jamerson to UNH

Trinity High School's football program has sent another player into the Division I ranks. Jack Jamerson, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive tackle, accepted a full scholarship from the University of New Hampshire. Jamerson is the second Hillers' player to go to a Division I program. Nate Lojek accepted a scholarship to play at Robert Morris University.

The Hillers had three last season - Andrew Sweat (Ohio State), Mike Yancich (Penn State) and Brandon Weaver (Ohio University)- giving them five over the past two seasons.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Playoff push

Two section games remain for most teams in boys basketball and tonight will go a long way towards determining who's in, who's out and who will be a section champion.

In Class AAAA, Peters Township (10-0) has a one-game lead on Mt. Lebanon (9-1) for first place in Section 4. The Indians play at Mt. Lebanon tonight with a chance to wrap up the section title. Both teams, along with Upper St. Clair, are in the playoffs. Canon-McMillan (4-6) is in fourth, one game ahead of Bethel Park (3-7). Those two play tonight in Canonsburg. A win and the Big Macs are in.

In Class AAA, Trinity (8-2) is one game behind leader Thomas Jefferson (9-1) in section 5. The Hillers, already in the playoffs, have games remaining at Belle Vernon tonight and home against Yough tomorow. The Jaguars play at McGuffey tonight and host Elizabeth Forward Friday.

In Class AA, South Fayette (11-1) and North Catholic (11-1) are tied for the Section 3 lead and split the season series. The Lions play at Fort Cherry (7-5) tonight and host Carlynton (6-6) Friday. The Trojans face Northgate and Fort Cherry. Speaking of the Rangers and Cougars, they are part of a three-way battle with Seton-La Salle (7-5) for the final two playoff spots. The Rebels and Cougars play tonight.

In Section 5-AA, Washington (11-1) is one game ahead of Monessen (10-2) for the section lead. Charleroi (8-4) is in third, Burgettstown (7-5) fourth, Chartiers-Houston (6-6) is fifth and California, at 3-7, is still alive for a playoff berth. Tonight's schedule is the Prexies at Trojans; Greyhounds at Brownsville; Frazier at Burgettstown and Chartiers-Houston at Charleroi. Only Wash High and Monessen have clinched spots.

In Class A, 15 teams have clinched spots, including Carmichaels, Bentworth, Beth-Center and Avella. The Section 2 championship is still up for grabs. Tonight the Mikes (9-1) host the Bearcats (7-2), who mounted a big second-half comeback against Carmichaels earlier in the season. The Bulldogs, at 7-3, are not out of the section title conversation.

In girls Class AAAA, Peters Township is on the bubble but in good shape. Tied with Upper St. Clair for fourth at 7-5, the Indians host the Panthers tonight and conclude the season at Canon-Mac. After Peters Twp., Upper St. Clair has to face unbeaten Mt. Lebanon. Baldwin is a half-game ahead of both teams at 8-5.

In Class AAA, McGuffey's thrilling overtime win over Yough Monday night puts both teams at 3-6, tied for fourth, with one game remaining. The Highlanders face Waynesburg in their final game. The Raiders managed just nine points in their last contest against EF. The Cougars host Belle Vernon.

The Class AA field for local teams is set. Washington won Section 5. Clinching spots are Charleroi and Beth-Center from Section 5 and South Fayette in Section 3.

In Class A, Fort Cherry and Avella are in from Section 2. The Rangers (7-2) can earn a share of the section title with a win over Cornell and a Serra (8-1) loss to Clairton. Monessen is the Section 3 champion. Carmichaels and California are in. Mapletown is still alive but needs California to lose its last game (at Monessen) and beat Jefferson-Morgan and West Greene.