Sunday, February 28, 2010

WPIAL semifinals set

One of the more intriguing story lines through the WPIAL playoffs is the dominance of Section 4-AAAA girls basketball. All four playoff qualifiers from the section have advanced to the semifinals.

On the boys side, the continued dominance of Chartiers Valley is astonishing. During a conversation I had with WJPA's Bob Gregg before the start of Saturday's Class AA boys quarterfinal between Wash High and North Catholic, Gregg said CV is the best basketball team he's seen play since the great Prexies teams of the mid 1980s.

Class AAAA
Wednesday, March 3
Mt. Lebanon (23-1) vs. Upper St. Clair (15-8) at Baldwin High School, 8 p.m.
North Allegheny (19-4) vs. Gateway (17-4) at Fox Chapel High School, 8 p.m.
Class AAA
Tuesday, March 2
Chartiers Valley (23-1) vs. West Allegheny (15-8) at North Allegheny High School, 8 p.m.
Hampton (20-2) vs. West Mifflin (14-7) at Gateway High School, 8 p.m.
Class AA
Wednesday, March 3
North Catholic (21-2) vs. South Fayette (19-4) at North Hills High School, 8 p.m.
Rochester (22-2) vs. Shady Side Academy (18-3) at North Hills High School, 6:30 p.m.
Class A
Tuesday, March 2
Sewickley Academy (20-2) vs. Cornell (18-5) at North Hills High School, 8 p.m.
Lincoln Park (17-6) vs. Serra Catholic (20-2) at North Hills High School, 6:30 p.m.

Class AAAA
Tuesday, March 2
Mt. Lebanon (22-2) vs. Peters Township (13-11) at Chartiers Valley High School, 8 p.m.
Bethel Park (18-5) vs. Baldwin (19-4) at Chartiers Valley High School, 6:30 p.m.
Class AAA
Wednesday, March 3
Hopewell (24-0) vs. Chartiers Valley (20-4) at Baldwin High School, 6:30 p.m.
New Castle (19-3) vs. Indiana (21-1) at Fox Chapel High School, 6:30 p.m.
Class AA
Tuesday, March 2
Avonworth (22-1) vs. Seton-La Salle (19-5) at North Allegheny High School, 6:30 p.m.
Jeannette (22-2) vs. Beaver (18-5) at Gateway High School, 6:30 p.m.
Class A
Tuesday, March 2
North Catholic (21-3) vs. Monessen (18-4) at West Allegheny High School, 8 p.m.
Quigley Catholic (19-2) vs. Vincentian Academy (14-7) at West Allegheny High School, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Picking the winners, quarterfinals edition

A dismal showing in the Boys Class AAA bracket led to a 19-7 record (73.1 percent) during the mid-week games. Who knew the Beaver County teams were that weak? A strong 22-4 record (84.6 percent) in girls games eased the sting somewhat.

Through the first round, my boys record is 36-11 (76.6 percent) and my girls record is 40-10 (80 percent) for an overall record of 76-21 (78.4 percent).

On to the quarterfinals.

Class AAAA
(All games Saturday)
Mt. Lebanon over McKeesport, Upper St. Clair over Latrobe, North Allegheny over Peters Township, Gateway over Kiski Area
Class AAA
(All games Friday)
Chartiers Valley over Trinity, West Allegheny over Highlands, Hampton over Montour, West Mifflin over Belle Vernon
Class AA
(All games Saturday)
Washiington over North Catholic, South Fayette over Beaver Falls, Greensburg Central Catholic over Rochester, Shady Side Academy over Jeannette
Class A
(All games Friday)
Sewickley Academy over Neshannock, Clairton over Cornell, Lincoln Park over OLSH, Serra Catholic over Vincentian Academy

Class AAAA
(All games Friday)
Mt. Lebanon over Fox Chapel, Shaler over Peters Township, Butler over Bethel Park, Baldwin over Kiski Area
Class AAA
(All games Saturday)
Hopewell over Blackhawk, Chartiers Valley over Mt. Pleasant, New Castle over Hampton, Indiana over Uniontown
Class AA
(All games Friday)
Bishop Canevin over Avonworth, Seton-La Salle over Sto-Rox, Jeannette over South Fayette, Beaver over Greensburg Central Catholic
Class A
(All games Saturday)
North Catholic over Winchester Thurston, Fort Cherry over Monessen, Quigley over Serra Catholic, Vincentian Academy over Rochester

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thinking about the playoffs

A few deep, random thoughts ...

Peters Township boys soccer coach Bob Dyer - easily one of the best coaches in Western Pennsylvania - talked about the concerns high school coaches have, even when that team is rife with talent, tradition and a fill trophy case, following a 2009 playoff game.

Dyer mentioned that the easiest of games can concern a coach because, "You don't know if his girlfriend broke up with him in sixth period or he failed a pop quiz and now his week is ruined."

Sounds silly. For coaches, it's not. The psyche of a high school athlete is a fragile one.

What's this got to do with the WPIAL basketball playoffs? Well, in the case of Monessen's unbelievable loss to Laurel in the Class AA preliminaries, a lot.

For those unfamiliar, Monessen led by one with less than a second remaining when Cam Johnson was intentionally fouled. Johnson missed both free throws. Monessen went to inbound with .6 seconds remaining. Rather than throwing the ball to midcourt, the inbounder threw it to his left. Laurel stole the ball and made the game-winning shot.

Now, can a player steal a basketball, gather himself and shoot a jumper in .6 seconds? Absolutely not. That basket should have never been allowed.

But the play goes to show that you'll never know how a 16-year-old kid will react to pressure.

* Speaking of pressure, Washington nearly wilted under it during the final minutes of regulation in Wednesday's overtime victory over Freeport. Again, you'll never know how kids will react to these situations.

Luckily for Washington, Troy Wilson and Zach Barnes, in particular, played with the necessary calm and smarts during overtime to get the Prexies a quarterfinal contest against North Catholic. Wash High also returns to the PIAA playoffs with the victory.

If Washington is to beat North Catholic - something I have predicted on this blog - it has to return to the style of play that carried them to the Section 5 title. Against Freeport, Washington rarely made the extra pass and took far too many forced shots.

When Washington played team basketball - late in the first quarter, the third quarter and the first few minutes of overtime - the Prexies were clearly the better team and I believe that if the Prexies put together a string of efforts like it had at Monessen, they can win the WPIAL.

* After a 32-point win over Laurel, South Fayette rolls into the quarterfinals against Beaver Falls. The Lions have shrugged off a mid-season skid and have won six straight. Five of those wins have been by 19 points or more.

A couple people asked why I picked South Fayette to win the WPIAL Class AA title when the pairings were announced. One reason is because, one through six on the roster, South Fayette is the most talented team in the classification.

I'll always take the team with the best talent when it's combined with toughness and good coaching. South Fayette has all those things.

* Aliquippa lost its first-round game to Jeannette. The result may surprise some but, to local basketball aficionados, it does not. Zach Hooks, a transfer from Charleroi, played major minutes for the Quips. I'm not sure Hooks would make my all-district team if he had stayed in Charleroi.

* Speaking of the all-district team, Peters Township's Craig Wolcott and Trinity's Josh Valentic are shoo-ins and serious considerations for Player of the Year.

Valentic, a relentless worker on the offensive end, will face the ultimate test Friday against Chartiers Valley. The Colts are know to start their press as soon as the opponent walks off the bus.

* Here are a couple observations from the playoffs:

1. Free-throw shooting is at an all-time low. I've seen some terrible performances at the line. There's no excuse.

2. Officiating has been nearly as bad as the free-throw shooting.

* As Pitt marches toward another appearance in the NCAA Tournament, there's growing sentiment that people should never count out a team coached by Jamie Dixon.

Time to say the same thing about Gary Goga.

Goga demands his players have mental toughness, play with smarts and ultimate defensive effort. Peters Township's lack of size has led to a few losses this year but with the way the Indians shoot, can anyone say they have no chance Saturday against North Allegheny?

* Fort Cherry girls coach Bob Miles also deserves recognition for the job he's done.

The Rangers were anything but a playoff regular a decade ago. Now, FC has a chance to make its second PIAA playoff appearance in the past five years with a win Saturday against Monessen.

Unlike previous Fort Cherry teams, which had a standout scorer, these Rangers take turns leading the offense. Fort Cherry is 16-4 and the majority of the top players are sophomores.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sites, times set for Friday's games

Trinity returns to Canon-McMillan to face top-seed Chartiers Valley Friday night, while the Peters Township girls attempts to duplicate its surprising 2008 playoff run against Shaler at West Allegheny.

All games Friday
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley (22-1) vs. Trinity (15-4) at Canon-McMillan High School, 8 p.m.
Highlands (14-9) vs. West Allegheny (14-8) at Fox Chapel High School, 8 p.m.
Hampton (19-2) vs. Montour (14-7) at North Allegheny High School, 8 p.m.
Belle Vernon (17-6) vs. West Mifflin (13-7) at Baldwin High School, 8 p.m.
Class A
Sewickley Academy (19-2) vs. Neshannock (16-6) at Ambridge High School, 8 p.m.
Clairton (11-3) vs. Cornell (17-5) at North Hills High School, 8 p.m.
Lincoln Park (16-6) vs. OLSH (10-12) at West Allegheny High School, 8 p.m.
Serra Catholic (19-2) vs. Vincentian Academy (15-6) at Keystone Oaks High School, 8 p.m.

All games Friday
Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon (21-2) vs. Fox Chapel (18-3) at Keystone Oaks High School, 6:30 p.m.
Shaler (18-4) vs. Peters Township (12-11) at West Allegheny High School, 6:30 p.m.
Butler (17-5) vs. Bethel Park (17-5) at North Hills High School, 6:30 p.m.
Baldwin (18-4) vs. Kiski Area (15-6) at North Allegheny High School, 6:30 p.m.
Class AA
Avonworth (21-1) vs. Bishop Canevin (16-5) at Ambridge High School, 6:30 p.m.
Seton-La Salle (18-5) vs. Sto-Rox (17-4) at Canon-McMillan High School, 6:30 p.m.
Jeannette (21-2) vs. South Fayette (17-6) at Baldwin High School, 6:30 p.m.
Greensburg Central Catholic (19-1) vs. Beaver (17-4) at Fox Chapel High School, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wash High girls, Trinity boys ... live from Canon-McMillan

At Canon-McMillan High School for a WPIAL girls/boys doubleheader - Washington vs. Sto-Rox girls and Trinity vs. Center boys.

6:26 p.m. – Jim Reynolds, C-M's master of ceremonies, has the mic.

6:30 p.m. – Lineups announced. Sto-Rox has to lead the WPIAL in headgear.

6:37 p.m. – Sto-Rox has all its points on putbacks ... Vikings, 6-0. ... Aujah Wade, who was dismissed from the Washington girls basketball team late in the season, is watching the game from the Prexies stands and wearing her game jersey.

6:42 p.m. – D'Andrea Smith enters for Wash High. Smith had not played recently and was not at Washington's preliminary round game against Springdale.

6:45 p.m. – Sto-Rox, 12-3, 1:48 left in the first.

6:49 p.m. – End of one, Sto-Rox is up 15-4. The Vikings are making their open looks. Washington is not.

7:06 p.m. – Halftime ... Sto-Rox up 18-11. Washington 5-0 run to close the half.

7:20 p.m. – Sto-Rox opens third on 5-0 run ... 23-11 with 4:46 left.

7:31 p.m. – Sto-Rox is just too big ... 37-14 heading into the fourth.

7:39 p.m. – Sto-Rox, 40-17

7:52 p.m. – Final, Sto-Rox 42-27. Dee Dee King gets 14 pts and 7 rebs, Mia Smith 10 and 10 for the Vikings. Aujuwa Moore leads the Prexies with nine and seven.

Trinity vs. Center

8:23 p.m. – Three-pointers from Josh Valentic and Tony Edwards puts Trinity up 6-0 at the 5:09 mark of the first.

8:33 p.m. – Trinity leads, 17-8, at the end of one. Three more quarters of this and the Hillers will have their first playoff victory since 1984.

8:41 p.m. – Center went to a box-and-one. Trinity ran the stall. Not much offense but Trinity leads 19-13 with 2:43 left in the first half.

8:49 p.m. – Valentic hits a three at the buzzer as Trinity takes a 25-14 halftime lead. Valentic has 18 points. The other players have 21.

9:17 p.m. – End of three, Trinity leads 35-26. History only eight minutes away. Believe me when I say, it's not pretty folks.

9:21 p.m. – I've come to realize that Center's Trevor George doesn't like officials. He's been yapping at them the whole game and already has a technical.

Just heard Shaler is beating Mt. Lebo in the fourth. Wow!

9:30 p.m. – Center rallying and hitting three's. Trinity leads 46-41 with 3:53 left.

9:32 p.m. – Trinity 48-43 with 2:08 left.

Final score - Trinity 59, Center 56

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hull makes Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated arrived in my mail box Monday morning and, only a few pages in, I came across a head shot of Canon-McMillan senior Mike Hull.

He made the magazine's "Faces in the Crowd" feature for his efforts in recent all-star football games.

To check out the online version of Hull's short bio, click:

Picking the winners, midweek edition

Started off the playoffs with a solid 17-4 record (81 percent) in boys games and an 18-6 mark (75 percent) in girls games for an overall mark of 35-10 (77.8 percecnt).

Time to pick the winners for Tuesday's and Wednesday's contests.

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Shaler, Hempfield over Upper St. Clair
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley over Indiana, Trinity over Center, Laurel Highlands over Highlands, Blackhawk over West Allegheny, Hampton over Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg-Salem over Montour, Hopewell over Belle Vernon, West Mifflin over Thomas Jefferson
Class A
Sewickley Academy over Monaca, Neshannock over St. Joseph, Clairton over Avella, Cornell over Western Beaver, Lincoln Park over Geibel, Bentworth over OLSH, Serra Catholic over Beth-Center, Union over Vincentian Academy
Class AA
North Catholic over Wilkinsburg, Washington over Freeport, South Fayette over Laurel, Beaver Falls over New Brighton, Greensburg Central Catholic over California, Quaker Valley over Rochester, Shady Side Academy over Bishop Canevin, Jeannette over Aliquippa

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Woodland Hills, Butler over Penn-Trafford
Class AA
Avonworth over West Shamokin, Bishop Canevin over Beth-Center, Seton-La Salle over Neshannock, Sto-Rox over Washington, Jeannette over Deer Lakes, South Fayette over Apollo-Ridge, Greensburg Central Catholic over Ford City, Beaver over OLSH
Class AAA
Hopewell over Montour, South Park over Blackhawk, Chartiers Valley over Mars, Mt. Pleasant over Kittanning, New Castle over Laurel Highlands, Hampton over Ambridge, Indiana over West Mifflin, Thomas Jefferson over Uniontown
Class A
North Catholic over Avella, Chartiers-Houston over Winchester Thurston, Monessen over Cornell, Fort Cherry over California, Quigley over Western Beaver, Carmichaels over Serra Catholic, Rochester over Mt. Alvernia, Vincentian Academy over Sewickley Academy

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 20-2
2. Butler (16-5)
3. Baldwin (18-4)
4. Bethel Park (17-5)
5. Fox Chapel (18-3)

Class AAA
1. Hopewell (22-0)
2. Indiana (19-1)
3. New Castle (17-3)
4. Chartiers Valley (18-4)
5. Thomas Jefferson (16-4)

Class AA
1. Avonworth (20-1)
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (18-1)
3. Jeannette (20-2)
4. Seton-La Salle (17-5)
5. Bishop Canevin (16-5)

Class A
1. North Catholic (19-3)
2. Quigley (17-2)
3. Rochester (18-3)
4. Fort Cherry (15-4)
5. Monessen (16-4)

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 21-1
2. North Allegheny (18-4)
3. Gateway (16-4)
4. McKeesport (15-6)
5. Kiski Area (16-6)

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley (21-1)
2. Hampton (18-2)
3. Laurel Highlands (21-1)
4. Greensburg-Salem (16-5)
5. Hopewell (16-6)

Class AA
1. North Catholic (19-2)
2. Washington (17-4)
3. South Fayette (17-4)
4. Greensburg Central Catholic (17-3)
5. Rochester (20-2)

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy (18-2)
2. Serra Catholic (18-2)
3. Clairton (10-3)
4. Lincoln Park (15-6)
5. Bentworth (14-4)

Monessen-Laurel ending

In a game that's sure to be talked about in Monessen and Laurel (New Castle) for years, the Spartans beat the Greyhounds Saturday on a last-second shot in the WPIAL Class AA preliminary round at West Allegheny.

Monessen led by one point, 44-43, and was inbounding the basketball underneath its own basket with 0.6 seconds left. The ball is stolen by Laurel's Mike Natale, who somehow tossed in the game-winner in time (or not) before the buzzer sounded. Monessen, however, missed both free throws after Laurel committed an intentional foul moments earlier.

To watch the video, click here:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

WPIAL basketball playoff sites

Sites and times were determined by the WPIAL for the remaining first round games. California and Beth-Center drew boys/girls doubleheaders, while Canon-McMillan will host a Washington girls/Trinity boys doubleheader Tuesday.

Class AAA
Trinity (14-4) vs. Center (14-7) at Canon-McMillan High School, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Class AA
Washington (17-4) vs. Freeport (15-2) at Gateway High School, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
South Fayette (17-4) vs. Laurel (13-7) at West Allegheny High School, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Greensburg Central Catholic (17-3) vs. California (16-6) at Charleroi High School, Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Class A
Clairton (10-3) vs. Avella (9-10) at Baldwin High School, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Bentworth (14-4) vs. OLSH (9-12) at Burgettstown High School, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Serra Catholic (18-2) vs. Beth-Center (8-12) at Charleroi High School, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

Class AA
Beth-Center (16-3) vs. Bishop Canevin (16-5) at Charleroi High School, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Sto-Rox (16-4) vs. Washington (13-8) at Canon-McMillan High School, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Apollo-Ridge (18-3) vs. South Fayette (16-6) at North Hills High School, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Class A
North Catholic (19-3) vs. Avella (14-7) at Northgate High School, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Winchester Thurston (13-7) vs. Chartiers-Houston (12-8) at North Hills High School, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Monessen (16-4) vs. Cornell (10-12) at West Allegheny High School, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Fort Cherry (15-4) vs. California (12-8) at Charleroi High School, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Serra Catholic (12-6) vs. Carmichaels (13-6) at Yough High School, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Picking the winners, weekend edition

Time to pick the winners in the WPIAL boys and girls basketball playoffs. The following predictions are for Saturday's games only. We'll keep a running total throughout the district playoffs.

Class AAAA
Preliminary round
Shaler over Fox Chapel
First round
McKeesport over Baldwin, Plum over Latrobe, North Allegheny over Canon-McMillan, Peters Township over Butler, Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Kiski Area, Gateway over Norwin

Class AAA
Preliminary round
Indiana over Valley, Highlands over New Castle, West Allegheny over Mars, Mt. Pleasant over Elizabeth Forward, Belle Vernon over Deer Lakes

Class AA
Preliminary round
Wilkinsburg over Sto-Rox, Freeport over Summit Academy, Monessen over Laurel, New Brighton over Burgettstown, California over Apollo Ridge, Quaker Valley over Ford City, Bishop Canevin over Burrell, Jeannette over Brentwood

Class A
Preliminary round
Mapletown over Monaca

Class AAAA
Preliminary round
North Hills over Woodland Hills, Penn-Trafford over Penn Hills
First round
Norwin over Fox Chapel, Shaler over Hempfield, Peters Township over Oakland Catholic, Bethel Park over McKeesport, Baldwin over Plum, North Allegheny over Kiski Area

Class AAA
Preliminary round
Montour over Yough, Mars over Belle Vernon, Kittanning over McGuffey, Laurel Highlands over Elizabeth Forward, West Mifflin over Highlands

Class AA
Preliminary round
Riverview over West Shamokin, Bishop Canevin over Aliquippa, Charleroi over Neshannock, Washington over Springdale, Deer Lakes over Riverside, South Fayette over Beaver Falls, Ford City over Mohawk, OLSH over Brownsville

Class A
Preliminary round
Avella over Monaca, St. Joseph over Western Beaver, Mt. Alvernia over Geibel

Local basketball rankings

1. Washington (AA) 17-4
2. South Fayette (AA) 17-4
3. Monessen (AA) 16-4
4. Peters Township (AAAA) 12-9
5. Trinity (AAA) 14-4

1. Peters Township (AAAA) 11-11
2. Beth-Center (AA) 16-3
3. Fort Cherry (A) 15-4
4. Monessen (A) 16-4
5. South Fayette (AA) 15-6

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WPIAL girls playoff capsules

Class AAAA
Top seeds: 1. Mt. Lebanon (20-2), 2. Butler (16-5), 3. Baldwin (17-4), 4. Shaler (17-4).
Local teams: 12. Peters Township (11-11)
2009 champion: Mt. Lebanon
The skinny: Mt. Lebanon, like the Blue Devils boys team, is the prohibitive favorite, and have yet to be challenged by a WPIAL team. ... The last time Peters Township finished fourth in Section 4, the Indians rolled to the WPIAL championship game and upset Mt. Lebanon in the semifinals. That's where the two would meet this year if PT can pull of another string of upsets. ... Bethel Park stumbled down the stretch but the Black Hawks were considered the WPIAL's second-best team for much of the season.
Local players to watch: Ellie Hanlon, Emily Matthis (Peters Township)
Sleeper: Bethel Park
Prediction: Mt. Lebanon over Baldwin

Class AAA
Top seeds: 1. Hopewell (22-0), 2. New Castle (17-3), 3. Indiana (19-1), 4. Chartiers Valley (18-4)
Local teams: 21. McGuffey (6-12)
2009 champion: New Castle
The skinny: Hopewell is the only undefeated team in the WPIAL, boys or girls. ... McGuffey is in the postseason for the third consecutive year. Last year, the Highlanders won a preliminary round game before losing to New Castle. ... New Castle lost to Hopewell twice, by a total of three points.
Local players to watch: Marissa Pattison, Jocelyn Lucsko (McGuffey)
Sleeper: Thomas Jefferson
Prediction: New Castle over Hopewell

Class AA
Top seeds: 1. Avonworth (20-1), 2. Jeannette (20-2), 3. Greensburg Central Catholic (18-1), 4. Seton-La Salle (17-5)
Local teams: 8. Beth-Center (16-3), 12. Washington (12-8), 13. Charleroi (12-6), 23. South Fayette (15-6)
2009 champion: Sto-Rox
The skinny: Hard to pick a favorite in the class as many believe Seton-La Salle, which made the finals last year, may have the most talent. ... Beth-Center won its first section championship since 1983 and have two strong scorers in Megan Sowers and Anna Shashura. ... South Fayette made it to the semifinals last year out of the preliminary round.
Local players to watch: Sowers, Shashura (Beth-Center), Chelsea Evans (Washington), Morgan Iacovino (Charleroi), Bailey Seiner (South Fayette)
Sleeper: Bishop Canevin
Prediction: Seton-La Salle over Jeannette

Class A
Top seeds: 1. North Catholic (19-3), 2. Quigley Catholic (17-2), 3. Rochester (18-3), 4. Monessen (16-4)
Local teams: 5. Fort Cherry (15-4), 9. Chartiers-Houston (12-8), 10. Carmichaels (13-6), 12. California (12-8), 17. Avella (13-7)
2009 champion: North Catholic
The skinny: North Catholic's only losses are against Bethel Park, Hopewell and New Castle. ... A late-season loss to California likely hurt Monessen's seeding. The Greyhounds were without freshman and leading scorer Mariah Ward for that game. ... Carmichaels receives key contributions from a pair of freshmen - Anna Cree and Morgan Berardi. ... Fort Cherry drew a diifcult first-round opponent in California but the Rangers allow just 36.9 points per game. ... Chartiers-Houston has to love its draw. If the Bucs get past Winchester Thurston in the first round, they probably get North Catholic in the quarterfinals. If NC wins the WPIAL, C-H will qualify for the state playoffs.
Local players to watch: Geena Shrader (Monessen), Beka Bellhy (Fort Cherry), Katie Rosemeier (Chartiers-Houston), Molly Stuvek (Carmichaels), Kristina Wagner, Morgan Moluski (California), Olivia English, Amanda Temple (Avella).
Sleeper: Fort Cherry
Prediction: North Catholic over Quigley Catholic

WPIAL boys playoff capsules

Class AAAA
Top seeds:
1. Mt. Lebanon (21-1), 2. North Allegheny (17-4), 3. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (16-4), 4. Plum (18-4)
Local teams: 10. Peters Township (12-9), 15. Canon-McMillan (9-11)
2009 champion: Peters Township
The skinny: Highly regarded Mt. Lebanon is the heavy favorite to win its first WPIAL championship since 2006. The Blue Devils lost to Peters Township in last year's championship. ... Teams from Section 4 have won five of the past six titles. ... Butler is coached by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Clement. ... Gateway, the sixth seed, will not have 6-9 sophomore forward Barrnett Harris, who quit the team.
Local players to watch: Craig Wolcott (Peters Township), Kionte Davis (Canon-McMillan)
Sleeper: Peters Township
Prediction: Mt. Lebanon over Pittsburgh Central Catholic

Class AAA
Top seeds:
1. Chartiers Valley (21-1), 2. Hampton (18-2), 3. Hopewell (16-6), 4. Laurel Highlands (20-1)
Local teams: 8. Trinity (14-4)
2009 champion: Hampton
The skinny: Chartiers Valley is the prohibitive favorite after beating Hampton, 87-68, on Saturday. The Colts' last WPIAL Class AAA title came in 1998 (they won two in Quad-A the past decade). ... CV senior T.J. McConnell became the 25th player in WPIAL history to top 2,000 career points last week. ... With six losses, Hopewell is a curious selection as the No. 3 seed over one-loss Laurel Highlands. The Vikings have some head-scratching losses but they did beat North Allegheny in late January.
Local players to watch: Josh Valentic (Trinity)
Sleeper: West Mifflin
Prediction: Chartiers Valley over Hampton

Class AA
Top seeds:
1. North Catholic (19-2), 2. Greensburg Central Catholic (17-3), 3. Shady Side Academy (16-3), 4. South Fayette (17-4).
Local teams: 4. South Fayette, 8. Washington (17-4), 13. Monessen (16-4), 15. California (15-6), 21. Burgettstown (11-9)
2009 champion: North Catholic
The skinny: Somehow Beaver Falls (13-8) and Aliquippa (14-7) were seeded ahead of Washington. Both played strong non-section schedules but both have some bad losses. Considering the bottom three teams in Section 6 combined to win 10 games, the traditionally strong league does not appear as strong as usual. ... Despite a fight breaking out between fans at the last Washington-Monessen game, the Prexies and Greyhounds are on the same side of the bracket. They cannot meet until the semifinals. ... Section 1 champion Freeport was seeded ninth and must play a preliminary round game. Freeport has won 13 straight.
Local players to watch: Mike Lamberti, Pat Zedreck (South Fayette), Marquis Brown, Troy Wilson (Washington), Jaisen Irwin, Jalen Madison (Monessen), John Tyler (California), Tyler Pavan (Burgettstown)
Sleeper: Washington
Prediction: South Fayette over Shady Side Academy

Class A
Top seeds:
1. Sewickley Academy (18-2), 2. Lincoln Park (15-6), 3. Serra Catholic (18-2), 4. Clairton (10-3).
Local teams: 7. Bentworth (13-4), 13. Avella (9-10), 14. Beth-Center (8-12),
2009 champion: Sewickley Academy
The skinny: Mapletown plays West Greene today at 1 p.m. If the Maples win, they clinch fourth place in Section 2 and will play Monaca in a preliminary game on Saturday. The winner gets top seed Sewickley Academy, which is led by Davidson recruit Tom Droney. ... No WPIAL basketball team played fewer games than the 13 played by Clairton. .... Sewickley Academy hasn't lost to a WPIAL opponent. Among the wins are Aliquippa, Serra Catholic, Clairton and South Fayette.
Local players to watch: John Barker, Clay Roman (Bentworth), Joe Yamber (Avella), Lucas Diethorn (Beth-Center)
Sleeper: Bentworth
Prediction: Serra Catholic over Clairton

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WPIAL basketball alignment for 2010-11/2011-12

Possibly the most interesting story line, from a local perspective, is moving the Monessen boys from Section 5-AA to Section 3-AA.

The Greyhounds are a Class A team and elect to play up because head coach Joe Salvino prefers the competition in Class AA. Monessen, since moving up, had been in Section 5, with Washington, Burgettstown and company.

Washington moved to Section 5-AAA with rivals Trinity and South Fayette. Carlynton, Fort Cherry, South Side Beaver and Sto-Rox join Burgettstown and Chartiers-Houston in Section 5-AA. Section 4-AA consists of Beth-Center, Brownsville, California, Charleroi, Frazier, Greensburg Central Catholi and Jeannette. It's a natural fit for Monessen but with the recent transfers of Josh and Terrance Stepoli from Monessen to Greensburg Central Catholic, it could have created a difficult situation.

The additions of Washington, South Fayette, Ringgold and Montour make Section 5-AAA very intriguing.

"I really liked what they did," Trinity boys basketball coach Joe Dunn said. "I like it all the way across the board. (Class AAA) looks very balanced."

Boys Class AAAA (30 teams) Section 1
Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Hempfield, Kiski, Latrobe, Laurel Highlands, Norwin, Penn-Trafford
Section 2
Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Plum, Woodland Hills
Section 3
Butler, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler
Section 4
Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Chartiers Valley, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Class AAA (36 teams) Section 1
Burrell, Deer Lakes, Hampton, Highlands, Kittanning, Knoch, Mars, Valley
Section 2
Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell, New Castle, West Allegheny
Section 3
Derry Area, Greensburg-Salem, Indiana, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland, Uniontown, Yough
Section 4
Belle Vernon, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Keystone Oaks, South Park, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin
Section 5
McGuffey, Montour, Ringgold, South Fayette, Trinity, Washington, Waynesburg

Class AA (41 teams) Section 1
Apollo Ridge, Ford City, Freeport, Riverview, Springdale, Shady Side Academy, West Shamokin
Section 2
Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, Riverside, Shenango, Summit Academy
Section 3
Bishop Canevin, Brentwood, Monessen, South Allegheny, Seton-La Salle, Steel Valley, Wilkinsburg
Section 4
Beth-Center, Brownsville, California, Charleroi, Frazier, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette
Section 5
Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, South Side Beaver, Sto-Rox
Section 6
Aliquippa, Avonworth, Beaver Falls, Freedom, New Brighton, Northgate, Quaker Valley

Class A (24 teams) Section 1
Cornell, Lincoln Park, OLSH, Rochester, Union, Western Beaver
Section 2
Aquinas Academy, North Catholic, Quigley Catholic, Sewickley Academy, Trinity Christian, Vincentian Academy
Section 3
Avella, Bentworth, Carmichaels, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene
Section 4
Clairton, Elderton, Geibel, Leechburg, Serra Catholic, St. Joseph

Girls Class AAAA (28 teams) Section 1
Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford
Section 2
Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Plum, Woodland Hills
Section 3
Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Oakland Catholic, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler
Section 4
Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Class AAA (32 teams) Section 1
Hampton, Highlands, Kittanning, Knoch, Mars, Valley
Section 2
Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Ellwood City, Hopewell, New Castle
Section 3
Derry Area, Greensburg-Salem, Indiana, Laurel Highlands, Mt. Pleasant, Uniontown, Yough
Section 4
Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Ringgold, South Park, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin
Section 5
Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, Montour, South Fayette, Trinity, West Allegheny

Class AA (43 teams) Section 1
Apollo Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Elderton, Ford City, Freeport, Leechburg, West Shamokin
Section 2
Beaver Falls, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverisde, Shenango
Section 3
East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Southmoreland, Springdale, Shady Side Academy, Wilkinsburg
Section 4
Bentworth, Beth-Center, Brownsville, Burgettstown, Charleroi, Washington, Waynesburg
Section 5
Bishop Canevin, Brentwood, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, South Allegheny, Seton-La Salle, Steel Valley
Section 6
Avonworth, Freedom, Northgate, OLSH, Quaker Valley, South Side Beaver, Sto-Rox

Class A (28 teams) Section 1
Aliquippa, Cornell, Quigley Catholic, Rochester, Sewickley Academy, Union, Western Beaver
Section 2
Ellis School, Mt. Alvernia, North Catholic, Riverview, St. Joseph, Trinity Christian, Vincentian Academy
Section 3
Avella, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene
Section 4
California, Clairton, Frazier, Geibel, Monessen, Serra Catholic, Winchester Thurston

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week in review, Feb. 8-14

Boys basketball
Team of the Week
Avella – The Eagles were scuffling to stay in the playoff hunt out of Section 2-A a couple weeks ago. Thanks to a recent surge, Avella not only locked up a playoff berth, the Eagles set themselves up for a possible second-place finish.

Avella won at Carmichaels, 62-59, on Saturday and followed with 54-48 home victory over Beth-Center on Sunday.

The Eagles and Bulldogs are tied for second-place in Section 2. Both with 8-3 records.

Runner-up – Monessen

Starting five
Craig Wolcott, Peters Township
Pat Zedreck, South Fayette
Damon Cupp-Sheader, Avella
Josh Valentic, Trinity
Jalen Madison, Monessen
Off the bench
Chad Hagan, Canon-McMillan

Games of the Week – Peters Township blows double-digit lead then rallies to win at Canon-McMillan, 64-61, with a 7-0 run to close the game as Hagan returned to the Big Macs' lineup; California beats Burgettstown, 74-71 in overtime.

Weird, wild stuff – Wolcott and Washington's Troy Wilson are both four-year starters for their respective teams. Considering Wolcott plays at the Class AAAA level and Wilson plays for the Prexies, it's a considerable accomplishment for both.

On Friday night, both players topped 1,000 career points and it happened within minutes of one another.

Wolcott needed 12 points entering the game at Canon-McMillan and got it on a 25-foot three-pointer (he launched it from the volleyball line) in the second quarter of a game which started 20 minutes late. Wilson also needed 12 points entering Friday's game against Charleroi and reached the milestone in the third quarter.

Girls basketball
Team of the Week
Beth-Center – Following a nine-day layoff, Beth-Center traveled to Washington Saturday, a place where the Bulldogs never win. In their previous eight trips there, the Bulldogs lost by an average of 36.9 points.

Needing a win to clinch the Section 5-AA championship, Beth-Center notched a 59-49 victory as Megan Sowers finished with a double-double.

Beth-Center won its first section championship since 1983.

Runner-up – Peters Township

Starting five
Chelsea Evans, Washington
Megan Sowers, Beth-Center
Olivia English, Avella
Courtnee McMasters, California
Ellie Hanlon, Peters Township
Off the bench
Chaniece Tarpley, Charleroi

Games of the Week – California took advantage of some chilly Monessen shooting (0-for-9 free throws) as it defeated Monessen, 55-43, to give the Greyhounds their first loss against a team not in Class AAAA; Avella boosted its chances of tying Cornell for fourth place in Section 2 with a 41-36 win over Chartiers-Houston.

Weird, wild stuff – Canon-McMillan, a team ravaged by injuries in recent years (five players were lost to knee injuries in 2008-09), beat Ringgold Saturday for its first win in Section 4-AAAA.

The Big Macs finished 1-13 in section and the victory snapped a 27-game losing streak in section play.

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 20-2
2. Butler 15-5
3. Baldwin 17-4
4. Bethel Park 16-4
5. Oakland Catholic 14-5

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 21-0
2. Indiana 19-1
3. New Castle 17-3
4. Chartiers Valley 16-4
5. Mt. Pleasant 17-3

Class AA
1. Seton-La Salle 16-4
2. Greensburg Central Catholic 18-1
3. Avonworth 19-1
4. Jeannette 19-2
5. Bishop Canevin 14-4

Class A
1. North Catholic 17-3
2. Quigley 17-2
3. Rochester 18-3
4. Fort Cherry 14-4
5. Monessen 16-3

Girls basketball playoff clinchings

Class AAAA
Section 1 – Norwin, Hempfield, Kiski Area
Section 2 – Oakland Catholic, Fox Chapel, McKeesport
Section 3 – Butler, Shaler, North Allegheny
Section 4 – Mt. Lebanon, Baldwin, Bethel Park, Peters Township

Class AAA
Section 1 – Hampton, Mars, Kittanning, Highlands
Section 2 – Hopewell, New Castle, Blackhawk, Ambridge
Section 3 – Indiana, Mt. Pleasant, Uniontown, Laurel Highlands
Section 4 – Charters Valley, South Park, West Mifflin, Montour
Section 5 – Thomas Jefferson, Belle Vernon, Yough, Elizabeth Forward

Class AA
Section 1 – Apollo-Ridge, Ford City, West Shamokin, Deer Lakes
Section 2 – Beaver, Mohawk, Riverside, Neshannock
Section 3 – Seton-La Salle, Bishop Canevin, South Fayette, OLSH
Section 4 – Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Springdale
Section 5 – Beth-Center, Washington, Charleroi, Brownsville
Section 6 – Avonworth, Sto-Rox, Beaver Falls, Aliquippa

Class A
Section 1 – Quigley, Rochester, Sewickley Academy, Monaca, Western Beaver
Section 2 – Fort Cherry, Serra Catholic, Chartiers-Houston, Cornell
Section 3 – Monessen, Carmichaels, California, Geibel
Section 4 – North Catholic, Vincentian Academy, Winchester Thurston

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 21-1
2. Gateway 14-3
3. North Allegheny 16-4
4. Plum 17-4
5. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 15-4

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 19-1
2. Hampton 17-2
3. Laurel Highlands 20-1
4. Greensburg-Salem 15-4
5. Thomas Jefferson 16-5

Class AA
1. North Catholic 18-1
2. Washington 16-4
3. Rochester 20-2
4. South Fayette 15-4
5. Greensburg Central Catholic 17-3

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 17-2
2. Serra Catholic 17-2
3. Clairton 10-3
4. Lincoln Park 14-6
5. Cornell 14-5

WPIAL boys basketball playoff clinchings

The following teams are assured a berth in the WPIAL basketball playoffs heading into Monday's schedule. Several games, such as Washington's home finale against California, have been postponed to Tuesday.

Class AAAA
Section 1 – Latrobe, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Norwin
Section 2 – Gateway, Plum, McKeesport
Section 3 – North Allegheny, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Butler, Shaler
Section 4 – Mt. Lebanon, Baldwin, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair, Canon-McMillan

Class AAA
Section 1 – Hampton, Mars, Highlands, Deer Lakes
Section 2 – Hopewell, Blackhawk, Center, New Castle
Section 3 – Laurel Highlands, Greensburg-Salem, Mt. Pleasant, Indiana
Section 4 – Chartiers Valley, Montour
Section 5 – Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward

Class AA
Section 1 – Freeport, Burrell, Apollo-Ridge, Ford City
Section 2 – Rochester, New Brighton, Laurel, Summit Academy
Section 3 – North Catholic, South Fayette
Section 4 – Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy, Jeannette, Wilkinsburg
Section 5 – Washington, Monessen, California, Burgettstown
Section 6 – Beaver Falls, Aliquippa, Quaker Valley, Sto-Rox

Class A
Section 1 – Lincoln Park, Neshannock, Union, Western Beaver
Section 2 – Bentworth, Avella, Beth-Center
Section 3 – Serra Catholic, Clairton, St. Joseph
Section 4 – Sewickley Academy, Cornell, Vincentian Academy, OLSH

Friday, February 12, 2010

Top New Jersey team ineligible for playoffs

The PIAA does not have rules regarding coaches attending open gyms during the offseason. New Jersey does.

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. (AP) — St. Patrick, one of New Jersey’s top high school boys basketball teams, will not be allowed to compete in the state tournament.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s executive committee voted Friday to bar St. Patrick and suspend its coach, Kevin Boyle, for three games for being present during workouts before the season’s official start.
The workouts, held for the benefit of college coaches, were secretly videotaped by an NJSIAA investigator looking into alleged recruiting violations. None were found.
An attorney for the school argued that the NJSIAA trespassed, invaded privacy and did not notify the school it was under investigation, but the appeal was denied.
St. Patrick was 18-2 going into its Friday night game.

Local basketball rankings

There's no movement in the rankings this week due to a lack of action. Tonight's schedule is full and there are 19 games lated for Saturday, five more on Sunday.

1. Washington (AA) 15-4
2. South Fayette (AA) 13-4
3. Peters Township (AAAA) 11-8
4. Monessen (AA) 13-4
5. Trinity (AAA) 13-4

1. Peters Township (AAAA) 10-11
2. Monessen (A) 15-2
3. South Fayette (AA) 12-6
4. Fort Cherry (A) 14-4
5. Beth-Center (AA) 15-3

Thursday, February 11, 2010

WPIAL extends basketball season, again

The WPIAL extended the regular season for boys and girls basketball for the second time this week due to the large number of postponed games.
Teams have until Tuesday, Feb. 16 to complete section games. Earlier this week, the WPIAL asked teams to complete section games by Monday.
Some teams, like the Mapletown boys, have three section games remaining. Others, like the Burgettstown girls, only have one section game left.
The WPIAL basketball steering committee will meet Wednesday, Feb. 17 and the playoff pairings meeting will still be at 7 p.m. the same night at the Embassy Suites in Coraopolis.
The boys and girls playoffs will begin Friday, Feb. 19 and the WPIAL championship games are scheduled for March 5-6 at Duquesne University’s Palumbo Center.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stepoli transfers to GCC

Monessen's chances of qualifying for the PIAA Class AA boys basketball playoffs a fourth consecutive year took a hit when sophomore forward/center Josh Stepoli left the team late last week and transfered to Greensburg Central Catholic.

Stepoli averaged a double-double for Monessen, the second-place team in Section 5-AA with a 9-2 record. The Greyhounds are 13-4 overall and on a two-game win streak after being blown out at home by Washington.

Monessen, which plays up in classification and plans to stay in Class AA according to head coach Joe Salvino, already clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

His brother, Terrance Stepoli, quit the basketball team in early January and previously transfered to Greensburg Central Catholic. His sister Samone Stepoli was cited for disorderly conduct last week for her role in a fight that took place during halftime of a boys basketball game between Washington and Monessen Jan. 29.

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 18-2
2. Bethel Park 16-2
3. Fox Chapel 16-2
4. Butler 13-5
5. Baldwin 15-4

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 20-0
2. Indiana 18-1
3. New Castle 16-3
4. Chartiers Valley 15-4
5. Mt. Pleasant 15-3

Class AA
1. Seton-La Salle 15-4
2. Jeannette 18-1
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 16-1
4. Avonworth 17-1
5. Bishop Canevin 13-4

Class A
1. North Catholic 16-3
2. Monessen 15-2
3. Quigley 16-2
4. Rochester 17-3
5. Fort Cherry 14-4

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 18-1
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 14-3
3. Gateway 13-3
4. Plum 15-4
5. North Allegheny 14-4

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 17-1
2. Hampton 16-1
3. Laurel Highlands 18-1
4. Greensburg-Salem 15-4
5. Center 14-4

Class AA
1. North Catholic 16-1
2. Rochester 20-1
3. Washington 15-4
4. Shady Side Academy 15-2
5. South Fayette 13-4

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 15-2
2. Serra Cathlolic 15-2
3. Clairton 8-2
4. Lincoln Park 13-6
5. Cornell 13-5

WPIAL revises basketball schedule

The following press release was issued today by the WPIAL:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Week in review, Feb. 1-7

Team of the week
Waynesburg – The Raiders continue to improve under the direction of first-year head coach Dave Sarra, who led the Waynesburg football team to an appearance in the 2000 WPIAL Class AA championship game.

Waynesburg has won five of seven, including victories over Yough (57-38) and Mapletown (60-56) last week. The Raiders enter the last week of the regular season with a 9-9 record and three players – John Sinnott, Derek Lohr and Brian Coleman – are averaging double figures in points.

Runner-up – Monessen

Staring five
Will Glendenning, Canon-McMillan
Jarrett Porterfield, Mapletown
Jalen Madison, Monessen
Josh Valentic, Trinity
Marquis Brown, Washington
Off the bench
Derek Lohr, Waynesburg

Games of the week – Carmichaels' buzzer-beater doesn't fall as Beth-Center holds on for a 49-47 win in Section 2-A; Waynesburg beat Mapletown, 60-56, in a non-section game.

Weird, wild stuff – Due to postponements earlier in the year, Ringgold played nationally ranked Mt. Lebanon on consecutive days last week. The Rams lost by 38 on Tuesday and 52 on Wednesday. The losses extended Ringgold's losing streak to 14 consecutive games.

Team of the week
Beth-Center – The Bulldogs are one win from clinching a tie for the Section 5-AA championship and two victories from securing their first outright title since 1983 after beating Charleroi (45-38) and Burgettstown (60-33) last week.

Beth-Center is 10-0 in section play and 15-3 overall. Beth-Center's section game at second-place Washington scheduled for Monday has been postponed.

Runner-up – Avella

Starting five
Amanda Temple, Avella
Emily Hansen, Canon-McMillan
Molly Stuvek, Carmichaels
Brianna Hollick, Trinity
Megan Sowers, Beth-Center
Off the bench
Jocelyn Lucsko, McGuffey

Games of the week – Trinity edged Canon-McMillan, 72-69, in a Section 4-AAAA game on a couple late throws; Canon-McMillan beat Monessen, 48-37, for the second time this season.

Weird, wild stuff – Monessen has two losses on the year and both are to Canon-McMillan. The Greyhounds beat Trinity earlier this year. Trinity, meanwhile, swept the season series with Canon-McMillan.

Boys/Girls scoring leaders

Boys scoring

Through Feb. 7
Name, School G Pts. Avg.
Bellhy, FC 17 498 29.3
Valentic, Trinity 16 349 21.8
Wolcott, PT 16 311 19.4
Musgrove, Carm 15 277 18.5
Roman, Bent 15 242 16.1
Pavan, Burg 17 265 15.9 Barker, Bent 15 235 15.7
Lamberti, SF 12 188 15.7
Porterfield, Maple 16 243 15.2
McIlvaine, C-H 17 255 15.0
Brown, Wash 19 283 14.9
Tyler, Cal 14 206 14.7
Zedreck, SF 12 176 14.7
Wilson, Wash 18 261 14.5
Davis, C-M 15 213 14.2
Diethorn, B-C 13 176 13.5
Scott, C-H 17 226 13.3
Bielecki, Burg 17 224 13.2
Moskola, J-M 12 158 13.2
Henry, SF 12 158 13.2
Cumpston, Maple 16 210 13.1
Yamber, Avella 17 216 12.7
Irwin, Monessen 11 133 12.1
Horensky, PT 16 189 11.8
Mitchell-Walls, Bent 15 176 11.7
Stine, Ring 16 185 11.6
Minnick, Maple 16 184 11.5
Lohr, Wbg 14 161 11.5
Stepoli, Monessen 13 150 11.5
Jones, WG 13 149 11.5
Williamson, FC 18 202 11.2
Madison, Monessen 14 155 11.1
Burroughs, SF 12 133 11.1
Anderson, Charleroi 17 186 10.9
McAnany, McG 16 174 10.9
Berger, C-M 10 109 10.9
Sinnott, Wbg 14 149 10.6
Coleman, Wbg 14 145 10.4
J. Krall, Carm 14 142 10.1

Girls scoring

Through Feb. 7
Name, School G Pts. Avg.
Sowers, B-C 18 315 17.5
Hansen, C-M 20 331 16.6
Pattison, McG 18 297 16.5
Temple, Avella 16 242 15.1
Ward, Monessen 16 238 14.9
Moluski, Calk 16 231 14.4
Shashura, B-C 18 256 14.2
Shrader, Monessen 16 225 14.1
Wagner, Cal 16 210 13.1
T. Bonacci, Burg 17 218 12.8
Iacovino, Charleroi 13 165 12.7
Bellhy, FC 18 223 12.4
Lucsko, McG 18 223 12.4
Stuvek, Carm 18 218 12.1
Rosemeier, C-H 16 194 12.1
Sweat, Trinity 15 180 12.0
Dickerson, Maple 16 183 11.4
Jes. Dorazio, Bent 13 146 11.2
Evans, Wash 14 154 11.0
Flament, Charleroi 13 141 10.8
Phillis, Burg 17 181 10.6
Thorne, Charleroi 13 137 10.5
Yourchik, J-M 14 144 10.3
Merckle, FC 18 181 10.1
McMasters, Cal 16 162 10.1

Statistics reflect games reported to the Observer-Reporter. To update statistics, please call 724-222-6397 after 5 p.m. or e-mail

Thinking out loud

Signing Day, possibly the most over-hyped day on the sports calendar, came and went last Wednesday and, as has become commonplace in the area, several local student-athletes signed National Letters of Intent with various college programs.

Locally, five Division I football players signed last week. They were: Canon-McMillan's Chad Hagan (Ohio State) and Mike Hull (Penn State), Trinity's Ken Wilkins (Michigan), Washington's Bryan Thomas (Bowling Green) and Monessen's ShelDon Miller (Akron).

My problem with Signing Day isn't the event itself. The student-athletes work hard to achieve athletic scholarships and deserve the opportunity to make the signing an event. My problem with Signing Day is the increasingly nauseating amount of attention it receives and how inaccurate the class rankings prove to be every year.

Things recently written about Hull provide a perfect example.

At least two web sites that I read which cover recruiting nationally mentioned how Pitt's incoming football class is considered a failure because the Panthers let Hull, among others, get to Penn State. At this point, no one's sure how Pitt's class will play but the fact national writers thought Pitt had a chance at Hull shows how little they followed Western Pennsylvania.

Let's see. Hull's father played at Penn State. One of his uncles played at Penn State. His high school coach played at Penn State. And, most importantly, Hull grew up a die-hard Penn State fan. I've never covered a recruitment with less mystery surrounding it than Hull's.

* Wrestling talk is normally reserved to Joe Tuscano's blog Mat Matters but it's time to weigh in on the non-section matches that take place between the end of the regular season and the individual tournaments, excluding the team playoff contests.

Why do these matches count for individual records?

These matches, nothing more than exhibitions, should be counted as such. Why do they count?

In basketball, a WPIAL basketball team can have a two, three-week layoff between an early round exit in the district playoffs and the start of the PIAA tournament. Those teams can continue playing other teams that are playoff teams. The scrimmages do not count on individual or team records.

Can anyone rationally explain the difference?

* Trinity sports lost an ally when Jerry Chambers resigned from the school board last week. Chambers, a former Trinity athletic director, was instrumental in hiring Ed Dalton as athletic director and football coach.

* Back in 2004, the Pitt press conference on signing day centered around Walt Harris' inability to land then-Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli and North Hills running back Andrew Johnson. Morelli reneged on an oral commitment to Pitt and signed with Penn State. Johnson signed with Miami (Fla.)

Morelli never lived up to billing with the Nittany Lions, while Johnson has to be considered one of the biggest busts in recent WPIAL history. (And that's a long list. Maybe we'll delve deeper at some point.)

No one talked about Darrelle Revis at the press conference. Revis, out of Aliquippa, is one of the premier players in the NFL.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

APB, Where are they now?

After a pair of successful All Points Bulletins, luck ran out with the last as The Varsity Letters tried to track down the whereabouts of former Jefferson-Morgan boys basketball players Calvin Wilson, Damon Wilson and Troy Wilson. Again, anyone knowing any information is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

We'll shift to the girls game as The Varsity Letters issues an APB for former Wash High standout Elizabeth Proudfit.

The all-time leading scorer in Washington County high school history, Proudfit led the Prexies to the 1992 WPIAL Class AAA championship before heading to Harvard. Playing for the Harvard School of Basketball, Proudfit earned the Ivy League's Rookie of the Year Award in 1992-93 and achieved all-conference honors in 1995-96. Her 1,103 career points rank ninth in Harvard girls history. She's seventh all-time in steals and three-pointers.

Anyone knowing Proudfit's whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

Local basketball rankings

As Washington inches closer to a 43rd section championship, which will tie Uniontown for most in WPIAL history, the Prexies ascend to first in the local rankings for the first time this year. Boys teams who have clinched playoff berths along with Washington are: Peters Township, Trinity, South Fayette, Monessen, California, Bentworth and Beth-Center.

1. Washington (AA) 15-4
2. Peters Township (AAAA) 11-7
3. South Fayette (AA) 13-4
4. Monessen (AA) 13-4
5. Trinity (AAA) 13-3

Peters Township holds down the top spot in the girls rankings. The Indians are coming off a week where they played nationally ranked Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park. Those two losses put PT's record in Section 4-AAAA at 6-6 and in a fourth-place tie with Upper St. Clair. They meet Monday.

1. Peters Township (AAAA) 9-11
2. Monessen (A) 15-2
3. South Fayette (AA) 12-6
4. Fort Cherry (A) 14-4
5. Beth-Center (AA) 15-3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WPIAL girls basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 17-2
2. Bethel Park 15-2
3. Fox Chapel 16-2
4. Butler 12-5
5. Baldwin 14-4

Class AAA
1. Hopewell 18-0
2. New Castle 15-2
3. Indiana 17-1
4. Chartiers Valley 14-4
5. Blackhawk 12-5

Class AA
1. Seton-La Salle 14-4
2. Jeannette 17-1
3. Greensburg Central Catholic 15-1
4. Avonworth 16-1
5. Bishop Canevin 13-4

Class A
1. North Catholic 15-3
2. Monessen 14-2
3. Quigley 14-2
4. Rochester 16-3
5. Fort Cherry 13-4

Signing day

The following is a list of local athletes who signed a National Letter of Intent Wednesday:

Lashawn Bryant, Trinity (Garden City Junior College)
Chad Hagan, Canon-McMillan (Ohio State)
Mike Hull, Canon-McMillan (Penn State)
ShelDon Miller, Monessen (Akron)
Ryan Moore, Trinity (West Virginia Wesleyan)
Bryan Thomas, Washington (Bowling Green)
Ken Wilkins, Trinity (Michigan)
Larry Woods, Trinity (West Virginia Wesleyan)

Girls soccer
Devon Burkholder, Peters Township (Maryland-Baltimore County)
Megan Junker, Peters Township (St. Bonaventure)
Taylor Schram, Canon-McMillan (Penn State)

Field hockey
Julianna Makrinos, Peters Township (Central Michigan)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Week in review, Jan. 25-31

Boys basketball
Team of the Week
Washington Prexies - Wash High strung together three impressive victories at Chartiers-Houton (62-51), at Monessen (71-52) and against Class A Lincoln Park (66-50) at Sunday's Pittsburgh Classic at Robert Morris University.

Washington, the No. 3 Class AA team in the Observer-Reporter rankings, has won 10 consecutive and, at 13-4 overall and 9-1 in section, the Prexies are on the verge of another section title.

Washington is getting it done with defense, allowing a measly 49.8 points per game against a strong schedule

Runner-up - California

Starting five
Craig Wolcott, Peters Township
Troy Wilson, Washington
Bryan Thomas, Washington
John Tyler, California
Phil Horensky, Peters Township
Off the bench
Zach Barnes, Washington

Games of the week - Wolcott put up 40 points as Peters Township beat Bethel Park, 73-55, Friday; Mapletown, with only seven varsity players, stayed in the Section 2-A playoff hunt with a 67-63 win over Carmichaels on Tuesday.

Weird, wild stuff - Bentworth is the only team in Section 2-A with a winning record overall at 10-4. Excluding the Bearcats, the other sections teams are a combined 7-37 in non-section games.

Girls basketball
Team of the week
Chartiers-Houston - The Bucs are having their best season since the playing days of Emily Briggs. Chartiers-Houston defeated Aquinas Academy, 62-4, on Monday and followed with a season-building 51-41 victory over Serra Catholic.

With only one senior in Katie Rosemeier, who has topped 1,000 career points, the Bucs have won 11 games and are 6-3 and in third place in Section 2-A.

Chartiers-Houston won 13 games the previous three years, including a 4-18 record last year.

Runner-up - Monessen

Starting five
Geena Shrader, Monessen
Anna Shashura, Beth-Center
Emily Hansen, Canon-McMillan
Rachel Burgess, Chartiers-Houston
Beka Bellhy, Fort Cherry
Off the bench
Megan Sowers, Beth-Center

Games of the week - Ringgold rallies from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to win at McGuffey, 62-51 in a non-section game Saturday; Monessen shuts down Washington in the second half for a 39-29 non-section win Friday.

Weird, wild stuff - Waynesburg is averaging just 14.4 points per game, worst in the WPIAL by a two-point average over Section 2-A's Aquinas Academy, in its first year in the WPIAL.

WPIAL boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Mt. Lebanon 16-1
2. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 13-3
3. Gateway 12-3
4. Plum 14-4
5. Butler 14-2

Class AAA
1. Chartiers Valley 16-1
2. Hampton 15-1
3. Laurel Highlands 17-1
4. Greensburg-Salem 13-3
5. Center 13-3

Class AA
1. North Catholic 15-1
2. Rochester 17-1
3. Washington 13-4
4. Shady Side Academy 14-2
5. South Fayette 12-4

Class A
1. Sewickley Academy 14-2
2. Serra Cathlolic 14-2
3. Clairton 6-2
4. Lincoln Park 12-5
5. Cornell 13-4

WPIAL boys basketball rankings