Friday, December 10, 2010
Boys basketball Class AAAA-AAA team capsules
An up-and-down season still landed Canon-McMillan a spot in the 2010 WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs out of rugged Section 4, which has produced a string of strong teams in Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.
Three starters return for the Big Macs, led by senior guard Kionte Davis, a contributor since his freshman season and, at times, a threat to score 25-plus points. With point guard Justin Robinson, another four-year contributor, and 6-8 Dylan Berger, C-M has the nucleus for another postseason appearance.
Head coach Rick Bell, in his 10th year at Canon-McMillan, continues his work in building a program and, with contributions from junior Kenyadda Brown and sophomore Brett Haney, the Big Macs could be a surprise team in Class AAAA.
Two years before Peters Township won the 2009 WPIAL Class AAAA championship, the Indians fielded a team few people knew much about. Head coach Gary Goga, pictured after winning a playoff game against Butler last year, helped mold that roster into a good one.
This year, all key contributors from the title run are gone with the exception of the coaching staff and Peters Township will be looking for a scorer to replace the departed Craig Wolcott.
Ross Wickstrom is the lone returning starter from last year, but a strong group of sophomores should help. Eric Lewis, Dakota Norton and Trent McPherson all earned valuable minutes as freshmen.
As a junior, Josh Valentic put together a Player of the Year-caliber season. A relentess worker on the offensive end, Valentic hustled his way to a 22.3 scoring average and his play almost got Trinity past Bradford in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
Valentic returns for his senior season and needs a little more than 300 points to become the Hillers' all-time leading scorer. He'll get help from Charlie McCaffrey, Brad Martin and Mike Cleveland.
Trinity's new-look section, however, figures to be one of the best in the WPIAL. Defending PIAA Class AA champion South Fayette moved up along with perennial power and cross-town rival Washington. Then there's Montour, which advanced to the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals last year.
Should the defending Class AA state champions start slow in its inaugural season in Class AAA, it's understandable. At least two starters, and four of the top eight players are one win away from playing for a PIAA football championship.
So, while the basketball team waits for rebounder Christian Brumbaugh, defensive specialist Josh Patterson, promising sophomore Zach Challingsworth and big man Tanner Courtad, seniors Mike Lamberti and Pat Zedreck will mostly direct a group of underclassmen on the court.
Head coach Rich Bonnaure, who preached team defense en route to the state title, is preaching patience for now. South Fayette faces a challenging non-section schedule, which includes two games against top opponents in Maryland before the football players return.
The Prexies move into Class AAA looking to replace the bulk of last year's scoring in Troy Wilson, Marquis Brown and Bryan Thomas. It's a lot to replace but these Prexies should be game for the challenge.
Senior Zach Barnes, last year's leading rebounder, is back along with three-point specialist Ethan Gordon. The play of senior swingman Julien Anderson, who put together a few big games in the scoring department, could determine is Wash High challenges for a section title in head coach Mark Gaither's senior year.
One thing is certain, Wash High always has promising young players. In sophomores Josh Wise and Jaylin Kelly, the trend continues.
A drop in classification should help the Rams, who have been overmatched the past several years at the Quad-A level. Then again, Section 5-AAA looks awfully strong heading into the schedule.
Greg Papson's building project continues at what has traditionally been one of the tougher places to win in Class AAA. The Highlanders have just two seniors in Tyler Briggs and Justin Moore, but juniors such as 6-4 Ryan Schilinski should receive ample playing time.
The Raiders won 10 games last year under the director of first-year head coach Dave Sarra, who once led Waynesburg to the 2000 WPIAL Class AA football championship game. Derek Lohr and Ryan Hurd were significant contributors to that improvement.