Wednesday, March 31, 2010

PIAA/WPIAL basketball champions

Can South Fayette repeat?

Technically, no. South Fayette, along with Washington, moves up in classification next year and joins Trinity and Montour in Section 5-AAA. The Lions have played their last game in Class AA for the foreseeable future.

South Fayette won the PIAA Class AA championship Saturday with a 49-47 victory over Strawberry Mansion. It capped a domination run through the state playoffs and put an exclamation point on a recent run of success for area boys team.

Peters Township won the WPIAL Class AAAA championship in 2009. Washington advanced to the PIAA Class AA semifinals the same year.

It's been one of the best two-year periods in local basketball history. That history also dictates the run will come to an end sometime soon.

Take a look at the small number of championship teams over the years.

PIAA champions
Fort Cherry – 1961 (AA)
Washington – 1984 (AA), 1986 (AA)
Monessen – 1988 (A), 1989 (A)
Ringgold – 1995 (AAAA)
South Fayette – 2010 (AA)
PIAA runners-up
Monessen – 1923
Donora (now part of Ringgold) – 1945 (AAA)
Ringgold – 1990 (AAAA)

PIAA champions
Monessen – 2004 (A)

WPIAL champions
Monessen – 1919, 1923, 1995 (A), 2001 (A), 2002 (A)
Cecil Township (now part of Canon-McMillan) – 1935 (AA)
Burgettstown – 1937 (AA)
Charleroi – 1940 (AAA), 1958 (AAA)
Donora – 1945 (AAA)
Fort Cherry – 1961 (AA)
Bentworth – 1963 (AA)
Mapletown – 1972 (A)
Ringgold – 1973 (AAA), 1990 (AAAA)
Washington – 1984 (AA), 1985 (AA), 1986 (AA), 1990 (AA)
Peters Township – 2009 (AAAA)

WPIAL champions
Immaculate Conception – 1986 (A)
Washington – 1992 (AAA)
Monessen – 1995 (A), 2004 (A), 2006 (A)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keeping up with ...

Jim Gallagher

One of the premier athletes in Peters Township history, Jim Gallagher played centerfield and pitched baseball teams that appeared in consecutive PIAA Class AAA championship games back when there was only three classes.

After three successful years at Duke University, Gallagher was drafted in the seventh round (239th overall) by the Chicago White Sox. After a strong 67-game stint in rookie ball, where Gallagher hit .332 with nine home runs, he moved to the Class A team in Kannapolis.

He spent the final 27 games of the 2009 season playing for Birmingham, Chicago's Class AA affiliate. Gallagher hit .280 with a .385 on-base percentage.

This spring, Gallagher became the first Washington County player to participate in spring training since fellow Peters Township baseball alum Brian Simmons. Gallagher has played in five games for the White Sox, going 0-for-9 with two strikeouts. He most recently played against Texas on Sunday, March 28.

Monday, March 29, 2010

WPIAL baseball players at the next level

West Penn Baseball Prospects ( runs an extraordinary amount of information about baseball at various level throughout the region. As a recent e-mail release states, "West Penn Baseball Prospects is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to help create opportunities for local student-athletes to play college baseball."

They recently completed a survey of college and junior college baseball rosters for WPIAL and District 8 products and found 586 current players, with 86 playing at the Division I level.

WPB broke down the top high school producers of college talents by classification.

Class AAAA
1. Seneca Valley 26
2. North Allegheny 20
3. Bethel Park 16
Butler 16
5. Pittsburgh Central Catholic 15

Class AAA
1. Blackhawk 17
2. Chartiers Valley 11
3. West Allegheny 10
4. Laurel Highlands 9
5. Hopewell 8

Class AA
1. Center 8
Riverside 8
3. South Fayette 6
Steel Valley 6
5. Seton-La Salle 5

Class A
1. Geibel 5
2. Chartiers-Houston 4
Neshannock 4
Rochester 4
Vincentian Academy 4

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photos from the PIAA championships

All photos courtesy of Eleanor Bailey, sports editor of the Almanac.

Live blog - PIAA Class AA boys championship, South Fayette vs. Strawberry Mansion

It's over ... South Fayette - the PIAA Class AA champions, 49-47.

3:42 p.m. – Unreal! Henry putback with about 22 seconds left off a Lamberti miss gives Lions a 49-47 lead. Mansion timeout, 9.7 remaining.

3:37 p.m. – Tied game, 45-45. South Fayette just forced a turnover and has the basketball with 1:24 remaining.

3:29 p.m. – Newbill ties it with a three but SF scores next four inside, up 43-39 with 4:01 left. Zedreck playing his best game of the playoffs.

3:25 p.m. – South Fayette up three, 39-36, with Christian Brumbaugh going to the free throw line. Lot of time (5:59) left but Lions are in the bonus. Going to be a long quarter.

3:17 p.m. – South Fayette goes into fourth quarter with a 33-32 lead. Lamberti has seven in the third and has a game-high 13.

3:08 p.m. – Mansion up 30-28 with 3:51 left in third. Zedreck hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 28-28 at the 4:55 mark. Burroughs has three fouls, a big situation considering he's already blocked four shots.

2:56 p.m. – Just talked to South Fayette athletic director Joe Farkas - the former boys basketball coach - and he's encouraged with the first-half effort. If South Fayette makes a few more shots (Lamberti was 1-for-8 in the first half) its ahead by six or eight.

2:48 p.m. – Marque Griffin hits three free throws with 2.2 second left. Mansion leads at the half, 25-23. Zedreck leads all scorers with eight. Henry and Mike Lamberti each have six. DJ Newbill held to six.

2:45 p.m. – Hard foul on Khalil Meadows by Zedreck. Meadows kicks Zedreck in midsection. Technical.

2:39 p.m. – Mansion up 20-19 after fast-break layup from Wooten. The game is moving toward the Knights' perferred pace.

2:35 p.m. – South Fayette hanging on, 18-16. Strawberry Mansion beginning to assert itself as Khyree Wooten scores on a high-flying follow. Mike Burroughs picked up his second foul with 3:36 left in second.

2:26 p.m. – Lions up 16-10. They are winning the battle on the boards, 10-6. Zedreck is getting to the basket easier than I would have believed.

2:23 p.m. – Tyler Henry two three's. South Fayette up 12-10 end of 1st.

2:16 p.m. – South Fayette attacking the hoop. Pat Zedreck has a putback and layup. Lions lead 9-6 with 3:26 left in 1st.

2:03 p.m. – Christian Brumbaugh starting, Josh Patterson will come off the bench. SF going with its big lineup.

2:02 p.m. – Devonte' "DJ" Newbill looks smooth, like a guy who should be playing at Marquette.

1:59 p.m. – The two teams are warming up. Strawberry Masnion looks lean and athletic. South Fayette has a slight size advantage. Can they use it? Back in the working area, no one is giving the Lions much of a chance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

West Greene hires Coss

John Coss knows West Greene football can be great.
He worked as an assistant coach for Larry Piper during the early 1990s, highlighted by an appearance in the 1993 WPIAL Class A championship game at Three Rivers Stadium.
That game happens to be the last playoff game West Greene has played and now it’s up to Coss to get the Pioneers back after the school board unanimously hired him Thursday as varsity football coach.
“Hard work gets it done,” said Coss, who went 7-13 during a two-year stint as West Greene’s head coach in 2000 and 2001. “They have to put the time in.”
Coss, a technical education teacher at West Greene, replaces Charles Harris, who spent the past three years as head coach. The Pioneers went 0-9 last year and 3-24 the past three seasons.
They carry a 23-game losing streak into 2010.
“The kids are used to losing. It’s going to take time to turn it around,” said Coss, who also worked as an assistant coach at Mapletown and Waynesburg high schools. “That’s why I’m glad I got a five-year contract. The last time, I only had year-to-year.”
West Greene athletic director Bill Simms is glad to have Coss on board for the next five years as well.
“Number one, he’s a teacher in the district. Number two, he’s a quality, quality man,” Simms said. “He’s been well-accomplished wherever he went. Plus, he’s a stickler for discipline.”

A look at Strawberry Mansion …

Here's a small clip from a Strawberry Manion game earlier in the year (there are other links to videos on the page):

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Revisiting Meadville

A local basketball team returns to Meadville High School Wednesday when the South Fayette boys play Mercyhurst Prep with the winner securing a place in Saturday's PIAA Class AA championship game.

It's been a few years since I've covered a game at Meadville, but it's a place I won't soon forget.

The Washington girls played Girard in a PIAA Class AA first round game there back in 2004, the fourth time in four years the Prexies and Yellow Jackets met in the state tournament. (Girard won all four meetings.)

Washington's Vanessa Davison, a two-time O-R Player of the Year, hit a high-arching runner that was waved off after she was called for a charge with 5:55 remaining in a one-point game.

That's when Prexies coach Jim Tidball lost it.

Here's an excerpt from my game story:

Tidball, Washington's head coach, was whistled for a technical foul midway through the third quarter but Prexies assistant Michael Maltony managed to restrain him before things got worse. After the Davison charge, which came with Wash High trailing the Yellow Jackets 30-29 things got ugly.

The normally reserved Tidball slammed his hand on the court in frustration, resulting in his second technical foul. Tidball promptly jumped out of his chair and stormed toward the Prexies' locker room. He turned back, offered a few more words for the officials, then waved to the Girard student section before ripping off his tie and leaving the court.

Tidball's technical led to four Girard points and the Yellow Jackets held on for a 48-42 victory Friday night at Meadville High School.

Girard (23-5) has eliminated the Prexies (22-6) from the last four PIAA playoffs.

"The first thing I want to do is apologize for costing my team an opportunity to win the game," said Tidball. "But there was no doubt in my mind that we got cheated."

Girard failed to win the District 10 title for the first time in nine years yet got to play a first-round game only 38 miles from home. If that wasn't bad enough for the Washington following, the calls didn't help much either. Every Prexies starter was plagued with foul trouble. They were whistled for 12 in the first half and 11 in the second. Girard never reached double figures in foul calls.

"The officiating stunk. We did not get a call all night," Tidball said.

Keeping up with …

Matt Pierpont

Pierpont, a key member of Canon-McMillan's 2008 PIAA Class AAAA championship baseball team, is in the middle of his freshman season at Division I Winthrop University.

The 2009 Observer-Reporter Baseball Player of the Year, Pierpont has played in 16 games with 13 starts and is batting .261 (12-for-46) for the Eagles as an infielder/pitcher. He's hit two home runs and drove in 12 with a pair of stolen bases and seven runs.

Pierpont has made three pitching appearances and has allowed 5 earned run over 6 1/3 innings for a 7.11 ERA. He does have eight strikeouts.

Winthrop, a member of the Big South Conference, beat Penn State on Saturday and is 12-6 overall.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

South Fayette vs. Mercyhurst Prep set

South Fayette makes its first appearance in the PIAA Class AA semifinals - the Lions move up to Class AAA next year - and will play District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep with the winner advancing to Saturday's state championship at Penn State University. The title game is scheduled for 1 p.m.

South Fayette (22-5), which has won three PIAA playoff games by an average margin of 26.3 points, plays Mercyhurst Prep (25-3) at Meadville High School, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

District 12 powers Imhotep Charter and Strawberry Mansion play in the other semifinal.

Friday, March 19, 2010

PIAA playoff scores

PIAA A State Tournament
Greenwood 45, Lebanon Catholic 30
Lincoln Park Charter 70, Neshannock 53
Reading Central Catholic 65, Girard College 54
Sewickley Academy 66, Tussey Mountain 44
PIAA AAA State Tournament
Chartiers Valley 86, York Suburban 69
Eastern York 57, Abington Heights 43
Hampton 55, West Mifflin 54
Neumann-Goretti 53, Archbishop Carroll 38
PIAA AA State Tournament
Avonworth 40, South Fayette 35
Delone 39, Lancaster Mennonite 37
Villa Maria Academy 51, Seton-LaSalle 38
York Catholic 53, Dunmore 43
PIAA AAAA State Tournament
Archbishop Ryan 42, Council Rock North 40
Central Dauphin 75, Cheltenham 68
Council Rock South 44, Abington 42
Mount Lebanon 56, Baldwin 42

Bad day for former athletes

Pulled these items from the Police Beat in the Tuesday, March 9 edition of the Observer-Reporter.

The first item deals with former Ringgold football standout T.J. Carden, who once quarterbacked the Rams to the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals and later played at Cal U.


Drug charges: Travis Carden, 27, of 212 Ridge Road, Monongahela, was arrested Monday for selling prescription painkillers to an undercover detective for the Washington County District Attorney's Drug Task Force, Monongahela police said.

He was arraigned before District Judge Mark Wilson on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver narcotics and criminal use of a communications device. Carden was placed in Washington County Jail on $25,000 bond.

The latter concerns recent Trinity graduate Michelle Massie, who pitched the Hillers to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals in 2009.


Drug charges: Christopher Maleski, 20, of Washington, and his passenger, Michelle Massie, 19, of Washington, each face charges stemming from a traffic stop Sunday night on Main Street at Beau Street, Washington.

State police said Massie had a bag of suspected marijuana and a grinder. She will be charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Maleski will be charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

State playoff game or regular season snoozer?

Two teams. One contested rivalry.

The 2009 WPIAL Class AA boys quarterfinals between South Fayette and Washington was the most physical, hard-fought basketball game I've ever covered. Never saw two teams want to beat one another so badly. The game, won by South Fayette, wasn't pretty but the passion to play was intesne.

Why? Not only do the Lions and Prexies respect each other's abilities, they don't like each other too much.

Anyone expecting a similar game (I'm raising my hand) when the two met Wednesday in the second round of the PIAA playoffs had to leave disappointed.

The game felt like a third-place consolation game between two visiting schools at a season-opening tip-off tournament.

The crowd, respectable in size, was dead. Rarely did the decible level pass a dull roar and it often reflected on the court.

"Those first game of a doubleheader, the crowd always seems laid back for whatever reason," South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said following the Lions' 56-41 victory which put them in the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

South Fayette, in particular Mike Lamberti (23 points, 13 rebounds) played with more hustle and zeal than the Prexies. With the exception of a second-quarter run, Washington's proud fan base didn't appear as interested as usual.

"It seemed like we came out extremely flat," Washington coach Mark Gaither said. "We just didn't have our same energy that we had throughout the season."

South Fayette-North Catholic, Part IV

The South Fayette and North Catholic boys basketball teams meet for the fourth time this season when the two Section 3 powers collide in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.

South Fayette (21-5) plays North Catholic (25-2) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Chartiers Valley High School. It's the same site as the Lions' 56-41 victory over Washington in the second round.

The two regular season meetings went to overtime, with both home teams winning. North Catholic dominated the WPIAL semifinal contest, winning 57-41.

The South Fayette girls remain in contention for a state championship as well.

The Lions (19-7) play Avonworth (24-2) tonight at North Allegheny High School at 6 p.m. South Fayette defeated Cranberry and Southern Huntingdon to get this far. Each game finished with a 44-42 score.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PIAA playoff scores

PIAA A State Tournament
Second Round
Girard College 63, Marian Catholic 57
Greenwood 46, Old Forge 37
Lebanon Catholic 51, Mansfield 47
Lincoln Park Charter 69, Southern Fulton 60
Neshannock 62, Conemaugh Valley 41
Reading Central Catholic 85, Philadelphia MC&S 53
Sewickley Academy 41, Elk County Catholic 19
Tussey Mountain 64, Rocky Grove 57

PIAA AAA State Tournament
Second Round
Abington Heights 55, Mifflinburg 41
Archbishop Carroll 64, Danville 51
Chartiers Valley 80, West Allegheny 59
Eastern York 78, Dobbins 47
Hampton 57, Montour 38
Neumann-Goretti 91, Holy Redeemer 56
West Mifflin 63, Bradford 42
York Suburban 70, Lancaster Catholic 55

PIAA AA State Tournament
Second Round
Avonworth 62, Jeannette 51
Delone 44, Tamaqua 43
Dunmore 40, Pen Argyl 37
Lancaster Mennonite 60, Loyalsock 48
Seton-La Salle 69, Marion Center 36
South Fayette 44, Southern Huntingdon 42
Villa Maria Academy 55, North Star 34
York Catholic 52, Springfield Twp 26

PIAA AAAA State Tournament
Second Round
Abington 50, Central Bucks East 31
Archbishop Ryan 45, Liberty 31
Baldwin 45, State College 37
Central Dauphin 50, Cardinal O’Hara 42
Cheltenham 61, Nazareth 52
Council Rock North 39, Northampton 29
Mount Lebanon 69, Erie Strong Vincent 36
Red Lion 37, Council Rock South 33

South Fayette-Washington PIAA overview

South Fayette
Record: 20-5
Section: 3-AA (Second, 12-2)
Probable starters, scoring averages: G Tyler Henry (Sr., 6-0, 12.0 ppg), G Pat Zedreck (Jr., 6-0, 13.5), G Josh Patterson (Jr., 6-0, 5.1), F Mike Lamberti (Jr., 6-5, 14.7), C Mike Burroughs (Sr., 6-5, 10.2).
WPIAL playoffs: Beat Laurel, 62-30; best Beaver Falls, 54-36; lost to North Catholic, 57-41.
PIAA playoffs: Beat Cambria Heights (District 6), 77-37.
Key victories: Greensburg Central Catholic (by 17), Washington (by 35), Allderdice (by 9), North Catholic (by 6 in OT).
Bad loss: Brentwood (by 5).
Bits and pieces: South Fayette is in the PIAA playoffs for the third consecutive year with Lamberti, Zedreck and Burroughs as starters all three years. … The Lions have won five of the past six games against Washington, including a 49-42 victory in the 2009 WPIAL quarterfinals. … A win puts South Fayette in the Class AA quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. … Junior forward Christian Brumbaugh could start in place of Patterson.

Record: 19-5
Section: 5-AA (First, 13-1)
Probable starters, scoring averages: G Marquis Brown (Sr., 6-0, 14.5), G Julien Anderson (Jr., 6-1) F Troy Wilson (Sr., 6-5, 14.1), F Zach Barnes (Jr., 6-1, 4.7), C Bryan Thomas (Sr., 6-4, 8.5).
WPIAL playoffs: Beat Freeport, 50-47 (in overtime); lost to North Catholic, 54-49.
PIAA playoffs: Beat Brookville (District 9), 57-34.
Key victories: Monessen (twice by 16 and 19), Lincoln Park (by 16), Freeport (by 3).
Bad loss: South Fayette (by 35).
Bits and pieces: Of the seven WPIAL teams remaining in the Class AA playoffs, none allow fewer points per game than the Prexies at 47.0. … Washington has won five of its past six PIAA playoff games dating back to last year's run to the semifinals. … Wilson and Barnes will start their seventh career state playoff game. … The Prexies played without Wilson and J Jay Paskert in the first meeting this year against South Fayette.

Keys to game
(Wednesday at Chartiers Valley, 6 p.m.)
South Fayette
1. Defensive rebounding
No team in the Western side of the Class AA bracket gets more points on putbacks or additional offensive possessions than Washington.
2. Avoid foul trouble
When South Fayette struggles, it's often because Burroughs or Lamberti or both are in foul trouble.
3. The dribble drive
In the regular season meeting, South Fayette attacked the basket. It created easy layups and open jumpers.

1. Share the ball
Washington works best when it doesn't get caught up in taking quick, contested jump shots. Getting Wilson touches is essential.
2. Avoid the lull
The Prexies are prone to occasional offensive lulls. It happened in the third quarter against Brookville. (Granted, the outcome was not in doubt at the time). This kind of goes back to the first key.
3. Pester, pester, pester
Washington knows how to rattle an opponent, particularly on the big stages. Getting South Fayette out of its game would be a successful strategy.

WPIAL softball alignment 2010-11, 2011-12

Class AAAA (27 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, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Class AAA (30 teams)
Section 1 – Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Ellwood City, Hopewell, New Castle
Section 2 – Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, Montour, Moon, Trinity, West Allegheny
Section 3 – Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Ringgold, South Park, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin
Section 4 – Derry Area, Greensburg-Salem, Indiana, Laurel Highlands, Uniontown, Yough
Section 5 – Hampton, Highlands, Kittanning, Knoch, Mars, Valley

Class AA (37 teams)
Section 1 – Avonworth, Bishop Canevin, Brentwood, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Quaker Valley, Seton-La Salle
Section 2 – Bentworth, Brownsville, Burgettstown, Charleroi, South Fayette, Washington, Waynesburg
Section 3 – Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Shady Side Academy, West Shamokin
Section 4 – East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Mt. Pleasant, South Allegheny, Southmoreland, Steel Valley
Section 5 – Beaver, Beaver Falls, Freedom, Laurel, Mohawk, New Brighton, Neshannock, Riverside

Class A (33 teams)
Section 1 – Avella, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Frazier, Monessen, Serra Catholic
Section 2 – Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene
Section 3 – Cornell, North Catholic, Northgate, Sewickley Academy, Sto-Rox, Vincentian Academy
Section 4 – Elderton, Ellis School, Leechburg, Mt. Alvernia, Riverview, Springdale, St. Joseph
Section 5 – Aliquippa, Quigley, Rochester, Shenango, South Side Beaver, Union, Western Beaver

WPIAL baseball alignment 2010-11, 2011-12

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

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

Class AA (39 teams)
Section 1 – Bishop Canevin, Carlynton, Freedom, Northgate, Quaker Valley, Seton-La Salle, South Fayette, Sto-Rox
Section 2 – Brownsville, Burgettstown, Charleroi, Fort Cherry, Frazier, Southmoreland, Washington, Waynesburg
Section 3 – Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Summit Academy, West Shamokin
Section 4 – Brentwood, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, Steel Valley, Wilkinsburg
Section 5 – Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, New Brighton, Riverside, Shenango, South Side Beaver

Class A (29 teams)
Section 1 – Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene
Section 2 – Avella, Bentworth, Chartiers-Houston, Clairton, Monessen, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Serra Catholic
Section 3 – Aliquippa, Cornell, Neshannock, Quigley, Rochester, Union, Western Beaver
Section 4 – Avonworth, Elderton, Leechburg, North Catholic, Sewickley Academy, St. Joseph, Springdale, Vincentian Academy

Keeping up with …

Peters Township's Enily Correal

A freshman at William and Mary, Correal was honored last Wednesday by the Colonial Athletic Association during its pre-championship banquet. The Venetia native earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie Team.

Correal, who topped 1,800 points and 1,200 rebounds in four years as a starter at Peters Township, finished the year with three double-doubles, including 14 points and 17 rebounds in a win against George Mason in January. She set a W&M freshman record with 28 games started.

Correal shared All-Rookie honors with Delaware freshman Elena Delle Donne, a former UConn recruit who made national headlines when she opted not to play for the Huskies to play volleyball at Delaware.

Correal was a three-time Observer-Reporter Player of the Year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

PIAA second round set

Class AA boys
Washington (19-5) vs. South Fayette (20-5) Wednesday at Chartiers Valley High School, 6 p.m.

Class AA girls
South Fayette (18-7) vs. Southern Huntingdon (23-3) Tuesday at Pitt-Johnstown, 7:30 p.m.

The Washington-South Fayette winner plays the North Catholic-Shady Side Academy winner in the quarterfinals. The NC-SSA game will be played after the Washington-South Fayette game at Chartiers Valley.

PIAA playoff thoughts

Clarion University hosted a quartet of PIAA basketball playoff games (three girls, Wash High boys) Saturday and it was tough finding someone at Tippin Gymnasium who wasn't talking about St. Mary's junior guard Kayla Ho'ohuli at some point.

Playing in the opening game, Ho'ohuli put on the most impressive individual display I've seen as St. Marys beat Hampton.

How does this sound? Ho'ohuli scored 52 points as St. Marys won, 64-55.

I hadn't heard of Ho'ohuli before catching the second half of that game, which preceded Washington's blowout win over Brookville, even though she leads in the PIAA in scoring a 29 points per game. After all, she plays in District 9 and facts are facts, the area is far from a basketball juggernaut.

Count me now among the masses of believers in St. Marys 5-8 guard.

During the third quarter, at first, I couldn't believe Ho'ohuli was shooting three-pointers from 30-33 feet. It was even harder to believe that she was making them. Has anyone in attendance ever seen a girls players with such range?

Not only did Ho'ohuli score at will, she blocked shots and made several steals. To be honest, I don't remember seeing another St. Marys players score in the second half.

Given her height, who knows what colleges will look at Ho'ohuli? It's hard to imagine some good Division I schools not finding a place for a player with her skills.

* How impressive was Ho'ohuli?

Minutes before Washington tipped off, Prexies head coach Mark Gaither was asking the Hampton scorekeeper how many points she scored. When he heard, "Fifty-two" he turned to me and said, "Maybe we should scrimmage them."

* Speaking of impressive, Washington looked good considering the Prexies hadn't played in 14 days.

As stated previously on this blog, Wash High looks most effective when Troy Wilson gets good looks. That's what happened Saturday against an overmatched Brookville.

* Here are five things I like about Washington heading into the second round against South Fayette:

1. Rebounding - When it's PIAA playoff time, that means Zach Barnes finishes with 10-plus rebounds. He had 11 against Brookville as Wash High dominated the glass.

2. Outside shooting - The Prexies have rarely had an outside threat. Sophomore Ethan Gordon is developing into one. Gordon comes off the bench and gives Washington a spot-up three-point shooter. Good defensive teams like to play zone against the Prexies. If Gordon can knock down the outside shot when he's in the game, it forces adjustments.

3. Aggressiveness - Washington settled for jumpers against North Catholic in the WPIAL playoffs. Against Brookville, Wash High made jumpers but it was the result of getting inside and making the extra pass.

4. Mood - The Prexies came to Clarion to win, and have fun in the process. The players chanted coming onto the court and during warm-ups, senior guard Marquis Brown had some good-natured fun with the Brookville student section.

The Brookville students were chanting Brown's name so, when Brown knocked down a three-pointer, he'd turn to the student section and have some fun.

"It was a good time," Brown said after the game.

Of course, big games are nothing new for most of the Prexies. They've won five of their past six PIAA playoff games and pulled off some big wins late in the football season.

5. Bench energy - Besides Gordon, the Prexies get significant contributions from forward J Jay Paskert, who has a knack for making energy plays. When the Prexies hit a lull during the hird quarter, Paskert came up with a couple of those energy plays and it woke up his teammates.

Whether it's a blocked shot, rebound or diving for a loose ball, Paskert understands his role on the basketball team and plays it perfectly.

* Here are five things I like about South Fayette heading into the second round against Washington:

1. Scoring depth - The Lions have four legitimate scorers in Mike Lamberti, Pat Zedreck, Tyler Henry and Mike Burroughs. Lamberti can hurt a defense in a number of ways. Zedreck finds open lanes to the basket. Henry is the jump shooter. Burroughs knows how to establish post position.

2. Experience - South Fayette has yet to make a deep run in the PIAA playoffs, but this group will play their fifth state tournament game together. If you keep getting the foot in the door, eventually it gets kicked in.

3. The Zedreck factor - Maybe it's because of South Fayette's offensive balance that Pat Zedreck doens't get much attention but there's no denying the junior point guard's importance. Whether South Fayette is up 20 or down 10, Zedreck wears the same expression and plays the same way.

4. Rebounding - With Burroughs and Lamberti, two big-time rebounders are in the starting lineup. South Fayette, unlike many teams, can bring great rebounders off the bench in Christian Brumbaugh and Tanner Courtad.

5. Attitude - South Fayette knew much was expected coming into the year. At least three publications, including the Observer-Reporter, tabbed the Lions as the WPIAL Class AA favorite entering the year. After seeing South Fayette outside the locker room following a district semifinal loss to North Catholic, it's evident this team desperately wants to make a postseason run.

* The looming Washington-South Fayette boys basketball game reminds me a little of a PIAA Class AAAA baseball quarterfinal between eventual state champion Canon-McMillan and just-crowned WPIAL champion Peters Township.

* Of the 16 teams remaining in the Boys Class AA bracket, seven are from the WPIAL. Washington, South Fayette, North Catholic, Rochester, Beaver Falls, Shady Side Academy and Greensburg Central Catholic were all winners. Jeannette was the lone WPIAL team to lose in the classification.

Friday, March 12, 2010

PIAA playoff scores

PIAA A State Tournament
First Round
Conemaugh Valley 67, Linesville 33
Elk County Catholic 67, Forbes Road 41
Girard College 54, Constitution 49
Greenwood 51, Church Farm School 48
Lebanon Catholic 57, Homer-Center 35
Lincoln Park Charter 89, Penns Manor 53
Mansfield 61, Pius X 51
Marian Catholic 59, Millville 44
Neshannock 63, Dubois 50
Old Forge 54, Sayre Area 46
Philadelphia MC&S 62, Freeland MMI Prep 32
Reading Central Catholic 51, Northern Cambria 32
Rocky Grove 46, Keystone 45
Sewickley Academy 67, Coudersport 36
Southern Fulton 48, Serra Catholic 43
Tussey Mountain 73, Cornell 50
PIAA AAA State Tournament
First Round
Abington Heights 58, East Pennsboro 28
Archbishop Carroll 37, Holy Ghost Prep 30
Bradford 45, Trinity 43
Chartiers Valley 96, Central Tech 66
Danville 68, Allentown Central Catholic 59
Dobbins 57, Springfield Delco 52
Hampton 63, Huntingdon 41
Holy Redeemer 59, Steelton-Highspire 39
Lancaster Catholic 52, Pottsgrove 44
Mifflinburg 51, Pottsville 38
Montour 49, Erie East 42
Neumann-Goretti 64, Susquehanna Township 44
West Allegheny 42, Hickory 41
West Mifflin 81, Oliver 69
Wilkes-Barre Coughlin 68, Eastern York 42
York Suburban 61, Greater Johnstown 46
PIAA AA State Tournament
First Round
Avonworth 55, Greenville 53
Delone 50, Freire Charter 39
Dunmore 54, Towanda 43
Jeanette 67, Cambria Heights 57
Lancaster Mennonite 56, Engineering And Science 38
Loyalsock 49, Mid Valley 43
Marion Center 55, Greensburg Central Catholic 53
North Star 42, Sto-Rox 37
Pen Argyl 51, Kennedy-Kenrick 30
Seton-LaSalle 62, North East 59
South Fayette 44, Cranberry 42
Southern Huntingdon 63, Beaver Area 47
Springfield Monco 54, Lake-Lehman 48, 2OT
Tamaqua 51, Mount Carmel 36
Villa Maria Academy 60, Bishop Canevin 24
York Catholic 59, Bodine 22
PIAA AAAA State Tournament
First Round
Abington 42, Hershey 38
Archbishop Ryan 56, Great Valley 39
Baldwin 61, Allderdice 38
Cardinal O’Hara 33, Downingtown East 23
Central Bucks East 59, Philadelphia Central 36
Central Dauphin 37, North Penn 36
Cheltenham 65, Central Dauphin East 49
Council Rock North 51, Mechanicsburg 35
Council Rock South 58, Reading 51
Erie Strong Vincent 42, Bethel Park 38
Liberty 52, Harrisburg 47
Mount Lebanon 63, Fox Chapel 33
Nazareth 45, Frankford 28
Northampton 45, Downingtown West 35
Red Lion 44, Hazleton Area 35
State College 47, Peters Township 38

Prexies, Lions loved the layoff

Washington High School's boys basketball team last played a competitive game two weeks ago. South Fayette hasn't played one in 10 days.

Both WPIAL Class AA powers lost to district champion North Catholic during various stages of the playoffs. The Trojans knocked the Prexies out in the quarterfinals and followed with a win over the Lions in the semifinals.

Those layoffs end Saturday when Washington (18-5) plays District 9 champion Brookville (17-7) at Clarion University at 3:30 p.m. and South Fayette (19-5) plays Cambria Heights (15-9) at Baldwin High School at 2 p.m. in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

For players on both teams, including Wash High junior Zach Barnes and South Fayette senior Mike Burroughs (both pictured), the time away from competitive play has been filled with practice and scrimmages, with Trinity and Gateway being among the respective opponents.

Such a layoff may bother some teams. Washington and South Fayette enjoyed the time off for different reasons.

For the Prexies, it allowed the majority of their players to rest weary legs. All five starters – Barnes, Troy Wilson, Marquis Brown, Julien Anderson and Bryan Thomas – played football and that season ran into basketball season.

"It was a nice layoff. We took a few days of after the North Catholic game and it was the first time our guys had a day off in a long time," Washington coach Mark Gaither said. "These guys played on a successful football team and as soon as that was over it was right into the gym."

Gaither believed tired legs contributed to Washington's loss to North Catholic.

"I think they were a bit tired," he said. "The time off got them refocused and got them a breather."

For South Fayette, the layoff provided an opportunity to forget about its semifinal performance. The Lions only led against North Catholic was at 1-0.

"We've really been focusing on ourselves," South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure said. "The guys took that loss pretty hard."

South Fayette, making a third consecutive PIAA playoff appearance for the first time, hopes to expand on its past two state playoffs. Two years ago, the Lions lost to Farrell in the second round. Last year, they lost to Mercyhurst Prep in the first.

With two senior starters in Burroughs and Tyler Henry and three junior starters in Mike Lamberti, Pat Zedreck and Josh Patterson, the majority of South Fayette's players have been part of the past three years.

"We're a talented team but we're also a victim of expectations. No matter what we've done this year, a lot of great things get overlooked," Bonnaure said. "We've had some real nice wins against Washington, Greensburg Central and North Catholic. We just try to play a tough schedule to get ready for the tournament."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Column rips high-profile high school basketball coach

Yates High School in Houston looks like the best boys basketball team in Texas, maybe the country. The No. 2 team according to USA Today, Yates puts up 100-plus points sometimes by halftime. Often, it comes at the expense of belittling the opponent.'s Rick Riley wrote this unflattering piece on Yates and its head coach Greg Wise.

High school hires woman football coach

Can anyone imagine this happening in the WPIAL?

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high school in Washington, D.C., has hired a woman to coach its varsity football team.
Natalie Randolph will be introduced Friday as the head coach at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School. She is believed to be the first woman to coach a high school varsity football team in the U.S.
Coolidge principal Thelma Jarrett said Randolph “quickly emerged as our top choice.”
Randolph replaces Jason Lane, who resigned.
The 29-year-old Randolph was an assistant coach at another D.C. high school, H.D. Woodson, from 2006-08. She also played in the National Women’s Football Association.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

PIAA playoffs scores

From Tuesday's play-in round …

PIAA AA State Tournament
Devon Prep 57, Benjamin Franklin 39
Jeanette 59, Kane Area 45
Westmont Hilltop 60, Chestnut Ridge 36
PIAA A State Tournament
Constitution 48, Millersburg 31
Freeland MMI Prep 44, Phila-Montgomery Christian 42
PIAA AAA State Tournament
Central Tech 44, Clearfield 39
Montour 63, Perry Traditional Academy 60
PIAA AAAA State Tournament
Erie Cathedral Prep 48, Upper St. Clair 42
Hazleton Area 58, Council Rock North 55
McKeesport 65, State College 50
North Allegheny 74, Carrick 57
PIAA A State Tournament
Bible Baptist 41, Philadelphia MC&S 21
Girard College 50, Forest City 42
PIAA AA State Tournament
Bishop Canevin 59, Kane Area 39
Cambria Heights 61, Everett 46
Engineering And Science 62, St. Pius X 44
PIAA AAA State Tournament
Blackhawk 46, Westinghouse 31
Mercyhurst Prep 53, Punxsutawney 37
PIAA AAAA State Tournament
Bethel Park 57, Schenley 31
Fox Chapel 63, Hollidaysburg 45
North Penn 51, Wyoming Valley West 39
Peters Township 49, Erie McDowell 48

Good story on Monessen girls

Here's an interesting piece by Paul Schofield of the Tribune-Review, who's no doubt gearing up for the PIAA wrestling championships, on Monessen girls basketball player Chelsea Heath:

Monday, March 8, 2010

State rankings

One poster to the Varsity Letters noted that Chartiers Valley should have an easy time in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. Well, the Eastern side of the bracket is loaded, particularly if you follow the state basketball rankings posted by LLHoops. com.

With the state playoffs lurking, it's a good time to check out the rest of Pennsylvania.

Here are the rankings (regardless of classification):

1. Philadelphia Neumann-Goretti (25-1) (PCL/District 12 AAA)

The Saints got out to a 41-27 halftime lead over Carroll and went on to a 75-59 win in the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship. Carroll made a run in the third quarter, but the Saints tacked on 19 points in the fourth quarter to win going away. Lamin Fulton shot 5-for-9, 5-for-6 (one trey) to lead with 16 pts. Tyreek Duren had 17pts two assists and three steals, Danny Stewart had 14 points, 15rebs, 4blks, Tony Chennault had 12pts, seven boards, three assists, Not to be lost in the shuffle is this: Billy Shank posted nine total points and notched one trey apiece in the first and second quarters. N-G now walks with the CL legends. This is the league’s 91st hoops season. Only twice has a team gone undefeated through the regular season and playoffs: N-G these last two years (38 total games) and Roman in 1990-91 (34 total games). Roman also went perfect in ’33 and ’34, but that accomplishment was a different animal; no playoffs back then…..It mattered little that Tony Chennault had to sit out the Philadelphia AAA City Championship as the Saints rolled Dobbins Tech 75-44. They led 23-14 at the end of the first quarter, upped it to 41-29 at the half and extended it to 58-34 after three quarters. Lamin Fulton led with 25pts, Tyreek Duren had 19pts and Danny Stewart added 14pts, 12rebs, 6blks and five steals.

2. Penn Wood (23-3) (District 1 AAAA)

Shawn Oakman, a 6-9 junior center, powered the defending state champions with 22pts, 9rebs (four on offense), four assists, three blocks and a steal as the Patriots blew past Souderton 71-49 in the District 1 AAAA Semifinal. Tyree Johnson and 6-5 jr f Aaron Brown (nine boards and two assists) each had 15pts, wing guard Will Brown notched 12pts and two blocks…..Penn Wood won their first District 1 AAAA Championship since 1992 with a 54-49 overtime victory over Plymouth-Whitemarsh before 6,500 at Villanova's Pavilion. The Patriots trailed 16-6 after the first quarter but a 14-1 run, Penn Wood made from the second quarter into the middle of the third, turned a 21-11 deficit into a 25-22 lead. Aaron Brown led with 20pts including eight of Penn Wood's 13 points in overtime. There were eight lead changes, with Plymouth-Whitemarsh coming out strong and fizzling in the end, while Penn Wood got stronger. Tyree Johnson backed Brown with 16pts and Will Brown added 11pts. 6-8 Jr Darian Barnes went scoreless, but grabbed 11 rebounds before fouling out.

3. Plymouth-Whitemarsh (25-2) (District 1 AAAA)

The Colonials completely dominated West Chester Bayard Rustin in a 79-47 victory in a District 1 AAAA Semifinal. C.J. Aiken, the 6-foot-10 senior, was a monster inside for P-W finishing with 12pts, 11rebs and 10blks for a triple-double. He had five of those blocks in the first quarter as the Colonials built a 13-point lead. Jaylen Bond, ended with 17pts and 13rebs. Stephon Baker finished with 12pts off the bench…..Plymouth-Whitemarsh got out to a nice first quarter lead over Penn Wood in the District 1 AAAA Championship, but could not hold on and lost 54-49 in overtime. The Colonials were a woeful 16-for-31 from the charity stripe and with each shot that clanged off the rim, their confidence crumbled just a bit more and Penn Wood’s became all the more fortified. The one player who was able to beat the Penn Wood pressure was senior guard Whis Grant, who scored a game-high 23pts. on the Patriots. A real glaring stat was C.J. Aiken and Jaylen Bond, P-W's monstrous one-two inside punch, finished with a combined 17 points, but the duo scored only six in the second half and overtime.

4. Radnor Archbishop Carroll (22-4) (PCL/District 12 AAA)

Juan’ya Green, steped up nicely in D. J. Irving’s absence (there’s a hard cast on his hand), had 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, two blocks. Ben Mingledough managed 16 points, nine boards. Thin frosh G Yosef Yacob fared well in a very difficult situation, with older/stronger guys continually hounding him in Carroll‘s 75-59 loss to Neumann-Goretti in the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship…..Then in the battle for District 12 AAA Third Place (loser out) with Simon Gratz, Carroll had to go it without Ben Mingledough, a 6-foot-4 swingman, who sat out, per PIAA rules, after being whistled for a pair of technicals in Monday's Catholic League championship loss to Neumann-Goretti plus pg D.J. Irving who was sidelined for a second straight game with a broken right hand. Simon Gratz held an eight-point advantage with 1:29 to play. From there, the Patriots rose up from near-dead, incredibly ended the contest with a 13-0 scoring run and emerged from Archbishop Ryan High with a hard-to-believe 48-43 victory.

Juan'ya Green led with 24pts - 14 in fourth quarter, 6rebs, four assists, 4blks and two steals. Soph forward Pat Finnegan and freshman combo guard Yosef Yacob, both normally reserves, delivered eight and seven points, respectively. Finnegan hauled in a team-high 12rebs. Yacob's left-wing trey gave Carroll a 44-43 lead, its first since the second quarter, with 42 seconds to go.

5. Mount Lebanon (25-1) (WPIAL/District 7 AAAA)

The Blue Devils fell behind Upper St. Clair 9-1, but slowly came back and pulled away for a 51-42 win in a WPIAL/District 7 AAAA Semifinal. Mt. Lebanon scored all its eight points in the first quarter on free throws. Upper St. Clair held an 18-15 lead, but the Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and grab a 22-15 halftime advantage. Mt. Lebanon held a 36-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter and scored the first six points to get some breathing room. Paul Lang led Mt. Lebanon with 16pts, 10 in the second half…..Mt. Lebanon won the WPIAL/District 7 Class AAAA Championship, beating Gateway, 57-51 at the Palumbo Center. Evan Pierce scored 21pts, all in the second half. and Luke Hagy scored four points and made two steals in the final minute to seal the top-seeded Blue Devils' championship, their second under coach Joe David.

6. Philadelphia Strawberry Mansion (24-1) (PPL/District 12 AA)

The Knights bounced back from their only loss and defeated Philadelphia Prep Charter 64-60 to capture the District 12 AA #4 seed and will open the state tournament against the District 3 #1 seed, Trinity the same team that ended their season last year. Devonte' Newbill led with 24 points and Saadiq Berry added 12 points.

7. Philadelphia Imhotep Charter (22-5) (PPL/District 12 AA)

Won their second consecutive Philadelphia Public League Championship with a 58-46 victory over AAAA Champion, John Bartram. Ameen Tanksley led with 16 points and 6-8 Erik Copes scored only 4 points but finished with 13 boards and seven blocks…..The Panthers then won the Philadelphia AA City Championship with a 51-42 victory over West Catholic. Erik Copes led with 12pts, 5rebs and 5blks. Tyhiem Perrin and Bakari White both scored 10 points.

8. Chartiers Valley (25-1) (WPIAL/District 7 AAA)

TJ McConnell scored 32 points in a 75-58 win over West Allegheny in a WPIAL/District 7 AAA Semifinal. Forward Matt Noszka added 16pts and guard Steve Burda had 13pts for the Colts…..Won WPIAL/District 7 AAA Championship with a 63-50 victory over Hampton. T. J. McConnell, who faced a box-and-one much of the night, finished with 34 points (his average), 26 in the second half and 15 in the fourth quarter. He was 11 of 18 from the field, playing on his future home court. A Duquesne recruit, McConnell was 2 of 6 from 3-point range and 10 of 15 from the free-throw line. Wayne Capers scored 16 and Steve Burda added 11 for the Colts.

9. Philadelphia LaSalle (19-5) (PCL/District 12 AAAA)

Won the Philadelphia AAAA City Championship and District 12’s #1 AAAA seed in the state tournament by edging Philadelphia John Bartram 42-40. The Little Explorers overcame a 24-13 deficit in the second quarter, and they cut it to 26-24 at the half. Troy Hockaday led the way with 15 points and Steve Collins added 12 points.

10. Philadelphia Communications Tech (18-3) (PPL/District 12 AA)

The Phoenix season ended earlier than they wanted when they were upset by Philadelphia Prep Charter 58-57 in the Public League AA Semifinal.

11. Reading (27-2) (District 3 AAAA)

The Red Knights built a 24-12 lead early in the second quarter, but some sloppy play with the ball and Wilson’s ability to get to the rim in the second half saw them lose all but one point of that lead in a District 3 AAAA Semifinal. Then in the last 12 seconds, Trenity Burdine came up with two steals to seal a 34-33 victory. Burdine with 18pts and Xavier Mumford with 12pts, scored 30 of Reading’s 34 points in the game…..Reading took a 16-13 first quarter lead over Hempfield in the District 3 AAAA Championship game but saw the Black Knights pull in front 26-23 at the half. A basket by Hempfield to start the third put Reading behind 28-23, but then Trenity Burdine took over scoring 11 of his game-high 20pts in the rest of the quarter as the Red Knights led 36-29 heading into the final eight minutes. They would extend the lead to 39-29 to start the fourth, but Hempfield made a run and cut the lead to 43-41. But after a couple of made foul shots, Burdine scored five points in about 15 seconds and the lead was back up to 52-41. The final was 54-46. Yamil Echavarria scored 14pts and Xavier Mumford grabbed 10 rebounds to back up Burdine.

12. Hempfield (27-1) (District 3 AAAA)

The Black Knights led only 19-16 after the first quarter but kept expanding on that lead throughout the game and defeated York 69-53 in the District 3 AAAA Semifinal game. Christian Walck controlled the tempo of the game and led with 21pts and Mike Uehlein with 18 points and Taylor McDuffie with 17 points controlled the paint and York really had no real answer for the threesome…..Hempfield saw their chance at an unbeaten season end when they lost to Reading 54-46 in the District 3 AAAA Championship. Christian Walck had a good game with 18pts, Zach Sheetz had 12pts (4 treys) and Taylor McDuffie added 10pts. Despite McDiffie scoring 10pts, Hempfield could never really get their inside game going as Reading was nearly as big inside and too quick for the Black Knights.

13. Eastern York (26-0) (District 3 AAA)

Overcame a 26-19 halftime deficit with a big third quarter and eased to a 66-52 victory over East Pennsboro in the District 3 AAA Semifinal. Rutgers-bound Andrew Nicholas scored 10 of his 28 points in the third, Austin Tillotson scored eight of his 17, and Nate Bollinger eight of his 14 as Eastern outscored the Panthers 31-11 in the third quarter. Tillotson also contributed nine rebounds and seven assists…..In the District 3 AAA Championship the Golden Knights got out to a 25-7 lead at the beginning of the second quarter, but saw Lancaster Catholic get hot and tighten up their defense in the second and third quarters. Eastern trailed after three 48-45 and had to get a basket by Nate Bollinger with 2.7 second left to pull out a 55-53 victory and win the District title. Nicholas led the way with 15pts, Tillotson had 14pts and Davin Zimmerman came off the bench for 10pts.

14. Hampton (21-3) (WPIAL/District 7 AAA)

Hampton held West Mifflin (14-8) to six points in the first half and held off a late Titans' rally to post a WPIAL/District 7 AAA Semifinal win, 38-31. Bill Luther led Hampton with 15 points…..Lost in the WPIAL/District 7 AAA Championship to Chartiers Valley 63-50. The Talbots started 6-7 Bill Luther (17pts), 6-5 Tim Donegan (14pts) and 6-8 T.J. Brown. Hampton out rebounded Chartiers Valley, 27-17. The game was deadlocked, 20-20, at halftime. In the third quarter, Hampton trailed, 31-28, with three minutes left when the Colts briefly went wild.

15. Bethlehem Liberty (22-5) (District 11 AAAA)

The Hurricanes had dropped out of the ratings after losing Anthony Gonzalez to a torn meniscus in his right knee on January 12. Preliminary indications were he'd be out for the season. And they lost three games without him, including to Nazareth twice. But they opened the District 11 AAAA Round of 16 by jumping out to a 20-0 lead and cruised past visiting Bangor 69-36. Jarrod West had a game-high 18pts and Darrun Hilliard added 13pts…..Then in the District 11 AAAA Quarterfinal, Gonzalez came back from the injury and scored 12 points and Liberty put the defensive clamps on Allentown Allen in a 50-35 rout. Hilliard led with 13pts…..In the District 11 AAAA Semifinal, Liberty's Darrun Hilliard, who connected for four 3-pointers among his game-high 26 points and enabled the Hurricanes to avenge two previous losses to Nazareth with a 58-45 victory…..In the District 11 AAAA Championship, Liberty crushed Whitehall 55-37. Brandon Holland scored a career-high 23 points, making seven 3-pointers, in sparking Liberty to their second district gold in four years and eighth overall. Holland was 8-for-9 from the field overall and 7-for-8 from beyond the arc in a stunning performance considering all of the attention his teammates receive.Darrun Hilliard, the 'Canes' highly recruited hoops star, scored 14 points.

16. Hughesville (23-2) (District 4 AA)

Brian Gerney (18pts) scored eight points in the game's final three minutes and his clutch shooting helped Hughesville defeat South Williamsport, 45-37 in a District 4 Class AA boys semifinal. Hughesville had taken a 24-6 lead early in the second quarter, but saw South come back and force a tie at 35-35.….Addison Hanford (18pts) and Brian Gerney (16pts) combined for 34 points while Hughesville played remarkably stifling defense as it defeated Loyalsock, 48-30 to win the District 4 AA Championship.

17. West Chester Bayard Rustin (23-4) (District 1 AAAA)

Was beaten badly, 79-47, by Plymouth-Whitemarsh in the District 1 AAAA Semifinal. Cory Blake finished with a team-high 18pts and 7rebs, but 12 of his points came in the second half, after PW’s lead had been hovering in the 20s. Anthony Nash added nine points while the team’s leading scorer this season, guard Rondell White, finished with just five. The trio ended up having a combined nine shots blocked by P-W’s 6-10 C. J. Aiken…..Took Third Place in the District 1 AAAA tournament with a 49-46 win over Souderton. Cory Blake led with 17 points and Anthony Nash had 14 points.

18. Loyalsock (22-3) (District 4 AA)

in a District 4 Class AA boys semifinal Loyalsock point guard Antoine Ellison-Love banked in a game-winning 25-foot 3-pointer with four seconds remaining. The latest in a string of last-second, game-winning shots Ellison-Love has hit over the last two seasons lifted Loyalsock to a dramatic 49-46 win over Lewisburg in the District 4 Class AA semifinals. Isaac Bittle led with 15pts and Ellison-Love had 9pts and 10 assists…..Lost to Hughesville 48-30 in the District 4 AA Championship. Guard Antoine Ellison-Love and forward Isaac Bittle, Loyalsock’s dynamic duo, were held to 14 combined points by Hughesville’s tight defense.

19. Philadelphia Roman Catholic (16-8) (PCL/District 12 AAAA)

The Cahillites move back into top 20 as the knocked off Philadelphia Frankford 53-50 in the District 12 AAAA Third Place game. Roman jumped to a 7-0 lead, led 11-7 after the first quarter, 26-16 at the half and 37-29 after three. Kevin Regan led with 18 points and 17rebs, WG Rakeem “Rahk” Brookins, bound for Tulane, scored 14 points, had 7rebs and 6 assists. Soph G Daiquan Walker had a strong outing with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the floor (two treys).

20. Philadelphia Frankford (21-4) (PPL/District 12 AAAA) Lost to Roman Catholic 53-50 in the District 12 AAAA 3rd, 4th Place game. Frankford sr. PG Dehaven Brown missed a three to tie as time ran out on the Pioneers. Terrell Clark led with 18pts, 11rebs and Rodney Walters had 10 points.

DROPPED OUT: Souderton (23-4) (District 1 AAAA) After a 71-49 loss to Penn Wood in the District 1 AAAA Semifinal and a 49-46 loss to West Chester Bayard Rustin in a District 1 AAAA 3rd & 4th Place game. Coatesville (21-6) (District 1 AAAA) Lost to Upper Dublin 62-58, in a ninth-place consolation semifinal.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The traveling Trinity Hillers

Trinity's boys basketball team became the fifth-place Class AAA team from the WPIAL when Chartiers Valley won the championship. The Hillers lost to the Colts in the district quarterfinals.

In the PIAA Class AAA boys playoff pairings, Trinity (15-5) draws the District 9 champion, which is Bradford (21-2). Bradford and Clearfield were the only teams in the D9 Class AAA playoffs.

Given the distance between the two communities - Bradford is just minutes away from the New York border - and with the game scheduled for Friday night, logic might dictate the game be played at Clarion University, located in District 9 or another place, say DuBois or St. Mary's.

Instead, Trinity must load up its bus Friday knowing it faces a 204-mile ride to the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford campus, where the Hillers will play the D9 champs at 7 p.m.

That's the equivalent of making Bradford play Trinity at Wash High.

Talk about unfair.

The following are the dates, sites and times for the six local teams playing in the PIAA basketball playoffs.

First round
Class AAA
Trinity (15-5) vs. Bradford (21-2) at Pitt-Bradford, 7 p.m.
Class AA
South Fayette (19-5) vs. Cambria Heights (15-9) at Baldwin High School, 2 p.m.
Washington (18-5) vs. Brookville (17-7) at Tippin Gymnasium, Clarion University, 3:30 p.m.

Preliminary round
Class AAAA
Erie McDowell (13-11) at Peters Township (13-12), 7 p.m.
First round
Class AA
South Fayette (17-7) vs. Cranberry (22-3) at Tippin Gymnasium, Clarion University, 5 p.m.
Class A
Monessen (18-5) vs. Tussey Mountain (22-3) at Pitt-Johnstown, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

WPIAL championship scores

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon 57, Gateway 51
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley 63, Hampton 50
Class AA
North Catholic 51, Rochester 48
Class A
Sewickley Academy 49, Lincoln Park 48

Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon 59, Baldwin 43
Class AAA
New Castle 66, Hopewell 61
Class AA
Jeannette 39, Seton-La Salle 36
Class A
Vincentian Academy 57, North Catholic 31

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thinking out loud

A few random, deep thoughts ...

The WPIAL Class AA championship will be decided Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center. Defending champion and top seed North Catholic faces Rochester, the No. 7 seed and a team attempting to win its first WPIAL basketball title since claiming the 1983 Class A crown.

Did anyone envision this matchup at the start of the season? Anyone?

After watching several of the top teams in Class AA – the most competitive in the district – the past two weeks, I've come to the conclusion that the seedings were way off.

Sure, North Catholic deserved to be No. 1 and expect the Trojans to win back-to-back titles. They're the best passing team I've seen this year. After that, I think the majority of the top seeds were misplaced.

My take on the top eight seeds is:
1. North Catholic;
2. Washington;
3. Rochester;
4. South Fayette;
5. Shady Side Academy;
6. Freeport;
7. Greensburg Central Catholic;
8. Beaver Falls.

* Why Washington at No. 2? Well, the Prexies had every chance to beat North Catholic in the quarterfinals.

* Washington can be a tough team to figure out. One night the Prexies struggle to protect the basketball, the other they look like the best Class AA team on this side of the state.

They are times when Washington gets caught up playing selfish offensive basketball. It happened in the first round against Freeport and the Prexies' season came close to ending. Wash High is at its best when the offense runs through Troy Wilson first. When it does, the shot selection is better, the rebounding is sounder and turnovers are fewer.

* There's been some discussion about this year's Boys Basketball Player of the Year, as selected by the Observer-Reporter.

To me, two players have stood out - Peters Township's Craig Wolcott and Trinity's Josh Valentic (pictured). Each are the focal point of opposing defenses every game yet both put up great numbers in completely different fashions. Both are also tireless workers on both ends of the court.

What gets overlooked in these discussions is performance in big games. It's easy to put up numbers and look flashy against the Sisters of the Poor. Playing well in big games goes a long way in determining the Player of the Year.

* Speaking of honors, who gets selected as the Tri-County Athletic Directors' Association boys and girls basketball coaches of the year?

Not sure who the local coaches will choose, but, to me, the finalists should include Peters Township boys coach Gary Goga and first-year girls coaches Kyra Kaylor of Peters Township and Gina Naccarato of Monessen. Chartiers-Houston girls coach Veronica Sansom also deserves strong consideration.

* One challenge for the next boys basketball coach at Chartiers-Houston will be getting more of the school's top athletes out for the sport. That's not going to be an easy task.

The Bucs certainly made strides at the Class AA level, particularly on the defensive end, for coach Jerry Cypher, who recently resigned with plans to join his son Brendan's staff at Burgettstown. Where Chartiers-Houston struggled to match up with Washington, Monessen and Burgettstown was in athleticism.

That's not saying the Bucs lacked athletes, but more top athletes at Chartiers-Houston wrestle or prepare for baseball than the other three schools.

* The PIAA playoffs don't start until next week but I'm already looking forward to the Class AA second round.

If North Catholic wins the WPIAL and South Fayette and Washington win their respective first-round games, the Lions and Prexies meet in the second round on Wednesday, March 17.

Picking the winners, WPIAL championship edition

The semifinals were unkind to this fearless high school basketball prognosticator. A measly 4-4 record in boys semifinals was only slightly bettered by a 5-3 record in the girls bracket.

On to the finals.

Girls Class A
North Catholic over Vincentian Academy
Boys Class A
Sewickley Academy over Lincoln Park
Boys Class AAA
Chartiers Valley over Hampton

Girls Class AA
Seton-La Salle over Jeannette
Boys Class AA
North Catholic over Rochester
Girls Class AAA
New Castle over Hopewell
Girls Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Baldwin
Boys Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon over Gateway

Thursday, March 4, 2010

APB, Where are they Now?

The top two girls scorers in Washington County history are Washington's Elizabeth Proudfit and Peters Township's Emily Correal. Proudfit went on to Harvard, where she enjoyed an outstanding career. Correal is starting as a freshman at William & Mary.

The Varsity Letters issues an All Point Bulletin for the third all-time leading scorer in Washington County history.

Jamie O'Donnell is a two-time Observer-Reporter Girls Basketball Player of the Year – only Proudfit, Correal and Monessen's Gina Naccarato earned the honor more. O'Donnell won the award in 1987 and 1988 and by the time her playing career with the Blue Devils ended she had scored 1,808 points.

O'Donnell played at Washington & Jefferson College.

Anyone knowing her whereabouts is urged to contact The Varsity Letters.

WPIAL basketball championship schedule

Last year, the Peters Township boys won the WPIAL Class AAAA championship. The Peters Township girls played for the Class AAAA title two years ago and the California boys lost in the Class A title game three years ago.

The 2010 WPIAL championships marks the first time in four years that the area is not sending a representative to Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center.

Boys games
Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon (24-1) vs. Gateway (18-4) Saturday at 9 p.m.
Class AAA
Chartiers Valley (24-1) vs. Hampton (21-2) Friday at 9 p.m.
Class AA
North Catholic (22-2) vs. Rochester (23-2) Saturday at 1 p.m.
Class A
Sewickley Academy (21-2) vs. Lincoln Park (18-6) Friday at 7 p.m.

Girls games
Class AAAA
Mt. Lebanon (23-2) vs. Baldwin (20-4) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Class AAA
Hopewell (25-0) vs. New Castle (20-3) Saturday at 3 p.m.
Class AA
Seton-La Salle (20-5) vs. Jeannette (23-2) Saturday at 11 p.m.
Class A
North Catholic (22-3) vs. Vincentian Academy (15-7) Friday at 5 p.m.

For those unable to attend but interested in watching, Comcast will make all the championship games available in their On Demand library beginning the day after the game. Go to On Demand, select "Your Town-Get Local" followed by "Sports" and then "Basketball."