Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Varsity leftovers

Funny what a couple easy baskets created from turnovers can do for a team.

South Fayette, mired in a shooting slump since its WPIAL Class AAA championship game loss to Montour, got going offensively during the first quarter of a 20-point rout of Johnstown Tuesday night in the second round of the state playoffs.

Josh Patterson created several of the early opportunities with steals at the top of the key and South Fayette responded by shooting 50 percent in the first quarter. It was a far cry from the 3-for-18 performance that started the Lions' opening round win over General McLane.

Simply put, South Fayette is too good to be in a shooting slump for an extended period.

* Turnovers and excessive fouls can make girls basketball tough to watch, even in the PIAA playoffs.

Fort Cherry isn't absolved from the occasional sloppy play of bad foul, but the Rangers are fun to watch play. As stated earlier, when the Rangers are on, they play the best team basketball I've seen this year - boys or girls.

That's no guarantee that Fort Cherry will get past its second round game later today against Coudersport at Clarion University. Coudersport has one loss, but Fort Cherry is a confident group.

* As good as Fort Cherry is, TVL wonders what the Rangers will be capable of next year assuming the players continue to improve.

* Ringgold senior Derrick Fiore will join teammate Neal Rands this fall at California University, where the pair will be part of the Vulcans' highly successful football team.

Rands plays with intensity and a hard-hitting style.

Fiore enjoyed a terrific senior season and was selected to the Observer-Reporter Elite 11 as he averaged nearly 10 yards per carry. There's been some discussion on this board concerning Fiore, Rands and their prospective futures at Cal U. Not sure how people can forecast the future of these young men.

From what I've seen of both, there's no reason either can't become productive players at Cal. Sure, the Vulcans take on a lot of Division I retreads, but remember, the vast majority of those players weren't good enough to make an impact before transferring to Division II.

In Fiore, I see a player similar in size, stature and speed to former Ringgold standout Robert Heller, who set an all-division freshman rushing record in his one year at Waynesburg University. Yes, Waynesburg is a Division III program but had Heller been willing to play defense coming out of high school, he had Division I schools interested.

* The spring sports season is rapidly approaching and The Varsity Letters will take a closer look at baseball, softball and track next week with teams to follow and players to watch.

* South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure calls senior forward Mile Lamberti the consummate team player and the West Liberty State recruit continues to back up that with his play in the postseason.

Lamberti called himself out following the Lions' loss in the PIAL championship. Rather than force his offense through two rounds of the state playoffs, Lamberti is letting opposing defenses worry about him and looking for other options.

He had four assists in the first quarter against Johnstown as his play on the defensive end led to several fast-break baskets. His biggest display of emotion came in the fourth quarter when one of his seven assists led to an easy basket for Tanner Courtad.

*In the fall, TVL called out Charleroi football for not calling in results for the past several seasons. Some readers were upset and wanted to know other programs that fall into the same category.

Here's one from winter sports: Peters Township girls basketball.

The Indians provided results from their first two games. After that, the only results we received from PT came when they played other local teams. As a result, it makes it awfully tough placing a player from Peters Township on the all-district basketball team.

* South Fayette has won seven consecutive games in the PIAA playoffs - five in winning the Class AA title last year and two this season. The seniors are 8-2 in the state playoffs the past four years with the lone losses against Farrell in the second round of the 2008 playoffs and Mercyhurst Prep in the first round of 2009.

* In each of South Fayette's last three PIAA playoffs games, Pat Zedreck has been the best basketball player on the court.

Thanks to his outstanding play in big games, Zedreck is firmly established in the thought process for Player of the Year.

* No matter what happens to South Fayette Friday night against Eastern York, the Lions are nearing the conclusion of one of the great runs this area has witnessed.

When I get an opportunity to sit down and research some other great runs from past schools, we'll look further into what's been accomplished and the difficulties of winning at a high level.


Anonymous said...

Correction Mike: The reason Bean Heller did not play D-1 Football was because of his SAT score. That is also the reason he did not play at Slippery Rock either. His SATs were not high enough to get into Slippery Rock.

This may have been the case for Rands and Fiore. There will be no one stronger than Rands at LB even as a 1st year college player.

mike_kovak said...

Oh, those little technicalities like test scores.