Friday, March 30, 2012

This Week in Twitter

Alex Swauger, @swaugyMarch 29
"Found my first ever gray hair. Dedicating it to @cswag8 cause he's a gray hair connoisseur. #plucked #touchofgray"

Anna Cree, @annnnaaa_
March 28
"Briggs has already called me pointdexter 4 times today and it's only 3rd period >"

Cole Snyder, @mmmm_yessss
March 24
"Getting so close and watching it twice in a row is the worst part. Love all my teammates. Love all peters hockey. love all the fans."

Carolena Gasbarro, @cmgcare42
March 27
"4X8, shot, and high jump today with only two practices in and I only practiced high jump #IMightDie"

Brent Williams, @Bweezy_13
March 30
"I love when my dad always sends me a good luck text on gamedays."

Mark Tagliaferro, @MarkTag
March 30
"Just found an opened bag of Oreos under my bed...I haven't eaten Oreos in over a year"

Justice Rawlins, @22IsBack_Jraw
March 28
"Feeling like a scrub coming to games just to videotape"

Dustin Fuller, @fullerd10
March 28
"Wow I'm studdering all the hurdles after the last turn and still run 39??? Definitely running a 37 or 38!!! #beprepared"

Corey Garry, @coreygarry
March 29
"Swag on deck, if you need it I be overstocked"

In honor of Anchorman 2:
Ron Burgundy, @ItsRonBurgundy
"Good morning San Diego. I'm back!!"

"Here's an interesting fact you didn't know about St. Patrick... He invented the triangle. You're welcome."

"Will Baxter speak French? Possibly Turkish? Stay tuned."

You can follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak.

Boys all-star rosters

The annual Washington-Greene Senior All-Star Basketball Games take place tonight at Wash High.

Here are the rosters for the boys game:

Boys North
Alex Baker, Fort Cherry
Ray Bertovich, Avella
Tony Bristol, Charleroi
Naz Victoria, California
Ty Negley, Waynesburg
Kolbi Phillips, Waynesburg
Kyle Rose, McGuffey
Deven Sulitz, Washington
Tim Waddell, Avella
Gannon Walls-Mitchell, Bentworth
Scott Wytovich, Bentworth
James Macek, Chartiers-Houston
Head coach
Eugene Briggs, Chartiers-Houston

Boys South
Zach Berkstresser, Jefferson-Morgan
Grant Braun, McGuffey
Kenyadda Brown, Canon-McMillan
Mitch Dobryznski, McGuffey
Alex Lisenby, Washington
Ryan Schilinski, McGuffey
Eric Schoedel, Bentworth
John Todd, Burgettstown
David Williams, Canon-McMillan
Doug Wilson, Canon-McMillan
Joe Yamber, Avella
Colton Yoders, Carmichaels
Head coach
Chris Niemiec, Jefferson-Morgan

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fort Cherry hires Shiel

One football coaching search came to an end Monday night, and it officially brought an end to an era in Fort Cherry football.

Jim Shiel was hired as Fort Cherry's new football coach at Monday night's school board meeting.

Shiel is an 1981 graduate of Fort Cherry and played football for the Rangers under the direction of legendary head coach Jim Garry. One of the longest-tenured coaches in PIAA history, Garry coached Fort Cherry for Fort Cherry football for its first 43 years and won a Washington County-record 265 games. He was succeeded in 2003 by Tim Garry, his son. He coached the past 9 seasons and went 49-42.

A physical education teacher at Fort Cherry, the 49-year-old Shiel coached the 7th & 8th grade team last fall.

Trinity and Jefferson-Morgan have yet to fill their respective positions. Trinity is down to three finalists and expected to hire April 5. Jefferson-Morgan opened its application process once again last week.

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Week in Twitter

Lots of topics this week - Canon-McMillan vs. Peters Township hockey, the start of spring sports season, Tim Tebow traded, Hines Ward retiring and the NCAA Tournament.

You can follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak.

Nick Harrison, @HarrisonN24
March 21
"Thanks to all the fans for supporting us all season. Best fans in high school hockey. We had a great season boys #keepyourheadsup #family"

Jeremy Merich, @JEMmerich007
"First&Last lost of the year. Period."

David Williams, @DWilliams_5
March 22
"When everything's on the line that's when you learn the most about yourself #inspired"

Anna Lombardo, @anna_lombardo
March 22
"Watching a peters township dance group dance for nationals on espn. That's pretty sweet."

Shai McKenzie, @Shai2fly
March 20
"Letter From Rutgers! Not the school i perfer but it's D1 can't sweat it. #Football"

Nick Riotto, @NRiotto
March 22
"Best thing about being home alone: walking around naked knowing those who are reading this tweet are trying to sneak a peek."

Ryan Dupain, @RyanDupain
March 20
"I am speechless. #TheArcticMonkeys and #TheBlackKeys in Cleveland. The Keys brought the place down. Unreal.

Michael Yancich, @Ymike33
March 20
"Wow..Did not see that speed bump coming...think I may have cracked my sunroof window with my head.."

Demetrius Louis, @iBakesuttin_9
March 23
"Damn i need to clean my room"

Joe Graziani, @JoeGrizz52
March 19
"Monday's are so much better when you come in at 10. #BigManSwaGG"

Darius Spinks, @DSpinks23
March 23
"Since plans got ruined for tommrow I might just go get a tatto"

Tweet of the Week
Carolena Gasbarro, @cmgcare42
March 17
"Heard you at halftime momma sorry we didn't get the win #missingyou"

PIAA tabs Lombardi executive director

STATE COLLEGE (AP) — The PIAA has selected longtime associate executive director Robert Lombardi to succeed Brad Cashman as head of the governing body for Pennsylvania scholastic sports.
The announcement was made Friday morning in State College, before the state basketball finals at the Jordan Center on the Penn State campus.
Lombardi has been associate executive director since 1988. He was one of two finalists for a national search that began in October. The other finalist was not identified, though the candidate was from outside the PIAA.
The candidates each had final interviews with the 31-member board Friday morning before the board voted unanimously to go with Lombardi.
“I’d like to make the PIAA the best it can be,” Lombardi said Friday night at the basketball championships. When pressed to offer specifics, Lombardi praised the quality of the organization’s officials, and said he hoped to improve lines of communications with the member schools.
“The schools, these are our customers,” he said. “The 225,000 young people playing, we need to tell their stories a little better. There are a lot of folks out there doing great things, and I think the public needs to know that.”
Cashman is retiring in July after 18 years as executive director. He cited the additions of the Philadelphia public and Catholic school leagues to the PIAA as one of the highlights of his tenure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trinity coaching search

The Trinity School Board will meet Thursday and there is a chance the board will be asked to approve the hiring of a varsity football coach.

If the hiring occurs, it will put to rest weeks of speculation and rumor. Naturally, any time the Trinity football job is opened, the name Guy Montecalvo gets mentioned. Thanks to his incredible success at Washington and the respect Montecalvo earned during his distinguished coaching career, he's always had ardent supporters in the Trinity community.

File that rumor under wishful thinking.

According to sources, the interview process has intensified and Trinity brought on former Penn Hills and Shaler head coach Neil Gordon as a consultant to hire the replacement for Ed Dalton, who took over at Trinity in 1999 and recently accepted the athletic director and football coaching duties at McGuffey.

As many as nine candidates have been interviewed and a frontrunner is believed to be Mike Wall.

A former quarterback at Trinity who went on to play the position at Tulsa, Wall emerged as a candidate the last time the Trinity School Board opened the job during a long-standing clash between Dalton and members of the school board. At one point, Rich Piccinini was hired as Trinity's football coach, but the board elected to table the hire and retained Dalton later the same day. Piccinini is now the football coach at Peters Township.

Wall was a three-year starter at Trinity and started 11 games at Tulsa, where he also spent two years as a grad assistant. Wall lives in Texas, where he's a social studies teacher and an offensive assistant at Class 4A Georgetown High School.

One snag in hiring Wall could be financial. Another could be luring him away from coaching in Texas.

Other candidates include former Duquesne University offensive coordinator Niel Loebig, former Waynesburg and California coach Joe Kuhns and former McGuffey coach Derek Bochna. Former Washington coach Bill Britton, who served as an assistant at Trinity for Dalton, is a favorite of the players. Britton has head coaching history plus a knowledge of the program and players. According to sources, Britton has not been interviewed but it could be because of familiarity.

Washington & Jefferson offensive line coach Todd Young is believed to be a candidate. A dark-horse could be Washington's Mike Bosnic.

And Charles Murphy with another assist

The conversation started when news broke of former Chartiers Valley standout T.J. McConnell is transfering from Duquesne University. After many of the area's top high school basketball players and former players wondered where McConnell may want to go, it got me to thinking about the best WPIAL basketball players I've seen in person.

On Twitter, where you can follow me @TheMikeKovak, I offered the top three WPIAL high school players I've seen.

In order, they are Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette), Herb Pope (Aliquippa) and Drew Schifino (Penn Hills).

McConnell would make my Top 10. Upon tweeting, former Observer-Reporter Player of the Year and current Canon-McMillan assistant coach Charles Murphy (@Chucko_Bangz), asked what my top 10 would be.

Great idea.

We have the top three.

As for the remaining seven, well, let's see. The players have to meet two criteria: 1. They must have played in the WPIAL, which disqualifies players like Schenley's DeJuan Blair, and 2. I had to see the player in person, which eliminated any player who graduated high school before 1997.

The rest of my top 10 would be McConnell, Lance Jeter (Beaver Falls), Brandon Fuss-Cheatham (Blackhawk), Tom Droney (Sewickley Academy), David Young (New Castle), Yuri Demetris (Shaler) and Ben McCauley (Yough).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Live blog, Fort Cherry vs. North Catholic, Monessen vs. Quaker Valley

4:11 p.m. – Quaker Valley wins 62-60.

Monessen had ball and 60-59 lead when Steven Ernch stripped Jalen Madison, went in for layup and Madison was called for intentional foul. Ernch made second of two free throws and R.J. West gives QV winning points on layup with two seconds left.

3:57 p.m. – Monessen went more than three minutes without scoring after Rawlins basket. Monessen holds a slim 56-53 lead with 4:14 left.

3:49 p.m. – Wow ... Chavas Rawlins banks in 3-pointer from 60 feet at buzzer to give Monessen a 53-45 lead going into fourth quarter.

3:44 p.m. – Jaisen Irwin steals missed free throw off Quaker Valley player and putback gives Monessen a 48-41 lead. Timeout QV with 1:53 left in third.

3:23 p.m. – QV closes second quarter on a 10-2 run and takes a 31-30 lead into locker room. Doesn't feel like Quakers should even be in game yet they lead at half.

3:21 p.m. – Saw this tweet from Carolena Gasbarro (@cmgcare42) "Heard you at halftime momma sorry we didn't get the win "

3:19 p.m. – QV not in awe of Monessen's athleticism. A 6-2 run has Quakers within 30-27.

3:15 p.m. – Earl Pinkney has 5 points in the second quarter and Monessen leads 27-21 with 3:21 left in third. Greyhounds looking inside now.

3:04 p.m. – Monessen has four three-pointers - two from Jalen Madison – as Greyhounds hold a slim 17-15 lead on QV. Quakers rebounding better than I thought they would.

2:58 p.m. – Three-pointers from Vinnie Scirotto and Jalen Madison have Monessen up 10-8 with 3:28 left in first. QV has has a couple threes.

2:53 p.m. – Back to seat just  in time for Monessen Quaker Valley tip.

2:30 p.m. – North Catholic beats Fort Cherry again. Final 57-51.

2:24 p.m. – Kelly Slates hits a three to get FC within 52-49 but Lauren Wolosik comes down and makes old-fashioned 3-point play. NC 55-49 with Bellhy at line and 33.6 remaining.

2:11 p.m. – Fort Cherry in trouble. Nothing going Rangers' way. North Catholic leads 46-39.

2:08 p.m. – Rachel Bellhy fouls out. NC has 18-3 advantage in free throws made.

2:04 p.m. – North Catholic takes a 41-37 lead into fourth quarter,

1:59 p.m. – North Catholic on a 13-2 run which gives it a 41-36 lead late 3rd quarter.

1:57 p.m. – FC has lost its touch in 3rd quarter just four points. NC takes its first lead, 36-34 on Sarah Goetz free throws.

1:53 p.m. – FC turning ball over again. NC down 34-32 with possession mid third.

1:46 p.m. – Weird game. Had three officials. Went down to two. Then back to original three. Now there is still three but a different third official.

1:39 p.m. – Gasbarro has 8 points, 6 rebounds and four assists. Merckle 10 points and Beka Bellhy has 8 points and 4 rebounds.

1:31 p.m. – Halftime: Fort Cherry 30, North Catholic 28. Fort Cherry has never trailed. Winner gets Vincentian Academy, a 56-51 winner over Kennedy Catholic.

1:27 p.m. – One potential issue for Fort Cherry in this game could be turnovers. Rangers sloppy on occasions, especially around midcourt. Still lead 26-23.

1:24 p.m. – Carolena Gasbarro has four offensive rebounds. Merckle has four steals and 10 points. Fort Cherry leads 24-20 with 3:27 left in second. NC getting baskets inside.

1:21 p.m. – Merckle steal and layup gives FC a 22-16 lead. NC calls timeout.

1:20 p.m. – Jump balls get called way too quick in girls basketball.

1:15 p.m. – FC cooled off but Jessie Merckle finished quarter with 8 pts and a charge call as Fort Cherry leads, 16-12. 

1:06 p.m. – Down to a two-man officiating crew.

1:04 p.m. – Fort C herry has made five of first six shots. Lead, 10-6. Rangers looking to run early.

1:03 p.m. – Police have stopped the action with 4:31 left in 1st and Fort Cherry leading 8-4. Strange.

12:59 p.m. – Jessie Merckle 2-for-2 as Fort Cherry takes early 4-0 lead. Merckle played very well against BG.

12:57 p.m. – Fort Cherry student dressed in body-length red suit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Week in Twitter

Random tweetsVince Gasbarro, @VgGiovanni
March 16
"I feel like an old man already... In my down time I enjoy sitting in my rocking chair on the porch with a chew in listening to country #wtf"

Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) to Chavas  Rawlins (@SiiiTrey)
March 16
"@SiiiTrey I'm working on my game now. I'm ready to play. I'll spot you 6 going to 10. Lol"
--in response to --
Chavas Rawlins (@SiiiTrey) to Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16)
"@CharlieBatch16 lol how about I spot you 6 going to 10 old man!! Lol"

Andrew Sweat, @asweat42
March 16
"Linebacker drills completed on the beach now my fav breakfast at the light house cafe"

Tara Konopka, @tarakonopka
March 12
"#ToMyUnbornChild you better like pickles as much as me bc that will be breakfast, lunch, and dinner #picklejuiceinyourbottletoo

Rachel Tucker, @tucko8
March 11
"Mom knows I went to Hershey yesterday. Haha. #busted 😊😳"

Ryan Dupain, @RyanDupain
March 9
"@coreygarry So happy for you, man. Congrats on a rad season. Looking forward to hearing about you at RMU."

Joe Graziani, @JoeGrizz52
March 15
"I will make it my goal to text and tweet in every class tomorrow. #eniorswag #SMD"

Brian Kretz, @SoftKretzel
March 10
"Just saw a lady tell her infant child who is in a stroller that she is "trippin" and she was gonna "take her ugly ass home." #modernfamily"

Tweets from or about the Fort Cherry girls basketball team
Kelly Slates, @Kslates10
March 14
"Damn straight! Lady Rangers Saturday against north catholic! #LETSGO! #revenge"

Carolena Gasbarro, @cmgcare42
March 14
""A dream doesn't become a reality through magic ; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." ~Colin Powell #AllThingsLadyRangersHave"

Corey Garry, @coreygarry (it's trademarked)
March 14
"Keep your foot on the pedal gals! #FCPride #WhatTheHellisAGuilfoyle #RedGrayAndWhite #FCLRHoops"

Margo Darragh, @MargoDarragh
March 14
"Jessie just blocked a 6'1" girl. No mercy. #straightboss"

NCAA Tournament tweets
Joe Silko, @Silk2Smoove
March 15
"Sitting in this class right now goes against everything I believe in #sunshine #basketball"

Zach Challingsworth, @ZChally10
March 15
"@jlwise_whs11 yeah they were nice, and for sure. The refs gave it to Syracuse. I was sitting in unc section, they were so hype lol"

Tyler Schrader, @Tyler_Schrader
March 14
"Cal's performance against USF, just shows how truly horrible the Pac-12 is"

Doug Wilson, @dougie_fresh055
March 15
"I hope WVU loses by 100"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fort Cherry, Monessen back-to-back

For the second time since the PIAA playoffs began, the Fort Cherry girls and Monessen boys teams will play back-to-back games.

Fort Cherry (25-2), an impressive 41-30 winner over powerhouse Bishop Guilfoyle Wednesday, faces North Catholic in the Class A quarterfinals. Tipoff is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Chartiers Valley High School.

The Trojanettes made easy work of Keystone, 56-31, in the second round and have won two recent meetings against Fort Cherry.

NC defeated Fort Cherry in the 2011 WPIAL championship game and during the regular season at the Pittsburgh Classic in Ambridge. Fort Cherry played the last meeting without starting guard Kelly Slates, the Rangers' top defender.

It makes the second time and the second consecutive season in which Fort Cherry has reached the state quarterfinals.

Last year, Monessen reached the PIAA Class AA semifinals. The Greyhounds (25-3) are one win from a return trip but face a difficult obstacle in Quaker Valley (23-4). Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Chartiers Valley.

Monessen made the long road trip to New Castle Wednesday night and left with a hard-fought 46-40 win over District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep. The Quakers reached the quarters with a 47-36 win over Sto-Rox.

Fort Cherry and Monessen played back-to-back games last Saturday at Gateway.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Five questions for the spring

1. How will Kayla Briggs adjust to being Chartiers-Houston's full-time pitcher?

Considering Briggs pitches full-time for travel teams and pitched the Bucs out of several tight positions in postseason games, chances are good C-H will once again be among the top teams in Class A.
Briggs batted .646 as a sophomore, but as a relief pitcher during her freshman season Briggs went 1-0 with eight saves and a 0.38 ERA.
Chartiers-Houston ran through WPIAL competition last year, claiming a district title with an undefeated record. The Bucs finished 22-1 but lost their bid to repeat as PIAA champion with a one-run loss to Clarion in the state semifinals.

2. Will relay teams drop the baton or repeat as champions?

Ringgold's 400 relay team won a WPIAL Class AAA championship, while Washington 1,600 relay team won WPIAL Class AA gold and set a championship meet record in the process last May.
Ringgold must wait a month before its regular 4x100 relay team of Quad Law, Alfon Cook, Joey Walls and Demetrius Louis run together as Law is set for knee surgery to remove loose cartilegde from an injury in ninth grade. Louis, who finished second in the 100 dash at the WPIAL championships, is set to return from January shoulder surgery.
The Prexies return Mykhael Kelley, Jordan Thomas, Darius Spinks and Dustin Fuller from a 1,600 relay team that predicted it would set and WPIAL meet record last year and did with a time of 3:26.41. The relay team has established a goal of winning PIAA gold this spring.

3. Can Washington County really be the nation's premier area for girls javelin?

With Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle and the Canon-McMillan duo of Mira Carrozza and Anna Lombardo, it may well be.
Merckle is a two-time WPIAL Class AA champion, a PIAA silver medalist and a Wake Forest recruit. Carrozza was a WPIAL Class AAA silver medalist last spring and signed with South Florida. Both are considered among the top 10 high school female javelin throwers in the nation.
Lomardo, also a senior, is just outside the top 10 rankings. Lombardo placed 12th at the USATF National Junior Olympics Outdoor Track & Field Championships last July. Merckle PR'd at the event and placed second. Carrozza was 23rd, while Peters Township graduate Kaitlyn Brace (Purdue University) was third.

4. Is Peters Township baseball rebuilding or reloading?

A senior-heavy lineup put runs up in bunched for Peters Township, which lost to Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game and the PIAA quarterfinals. Observer-Reporter Player of the Year Justin Bianco was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brady Sheetz, Austin Hancock and Will McClure put up big numbers and Ryan Minteer pitched in nearly every big game.
All five have graduated, but the Indians return Andrew Erenberg. He batted .434 with 28 runs and 20 RBI as a junior. Pitcher Mike Bittel, a Seton Hill recruit, will take on an increased load as the Indians will have to win more low-scoring games than it did the past two years.

5. Can the baseball teams at Waynesburg and Chartiers-Houston duplicate last year's success?

Waynesburg reached the WPIAL Class AA championship game last spring and Chartiers-Houston was the surprise of Class A as it reached the championship game at Consol Energy Park.
Both the Raiders and Bucs return a bulk of talent from last year's teams, which were upended in the first round of the state playoffs. Both also have new coaches.
Kevin Pincavitch. a Mapletown graduate and former member of the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system, is in his first season as Raiders coach. Adam Petras is the new coach at C-H.
Waynesburg will be among the favorites in Class AA with a group of returners which includes Stephen McCaw, Joe Monica and Alex Swauger. Chartiers-Houston won't surprise anyone this year as it returns top pitchers Dylan Pounds and Josh Counihan.

Friday, March 9, 2012

This Week in Twitter

With so many tweets to sift through, it's getting difficult to get this compiled by Thursday. So, we'll call it This Week in Twitter (for now).

Matt Douglas, @M_Douglas25
March 5
"My fake plants died, because I did not pretend to water them."

Amanda Higgins, @Higgie22
March 3
"I played in 3 WPIAL Championships - I walked away with 1 gold. Nothing to hang your heads about Hounds. States are still in reach..."

Rachel Tucker, @tuck08
March 7
"First day on the field today ⚾⚾⚾#BeatsTheHellOutaTheGym 😍"

Gabe Prtiz, @Gabepritz21
March 5
"Sick of take out food#momsoutoftown"

Charles Murphy, @Chucko_Bangz
March 2
"#thatawkwardmoment when you see @dougie_fresh055 running sprints -_-"

Graham Lescallette, @BigSauce_85
March 8
"I would eat a 17 Lb bucket of vomit in order to never have to squat or powerclean again. #DisgustingButTrue #FootballSeason2012"

Jaylin Kelly, @j_kelly21
March 3
"Tarheelnation? Nooo the #UK #wildcats is where its at"

Ralph Cindrich, @RalphCindrich
March 3
"#MeanJoeGreene didn't need a bounty. He would just knock your #arse out."

Sarah Kapis, @SarahKapis
March 3
"I love reading a book twice. You always miss something the first time around. #losersaturdaynight"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Five teams to watch this spring

Washington boys track
Championship pieces are in place for the Prexies, on the team and individual levels.
Washington placed second at the WPIAL Class AA team championships last year thanks to some dominating performances in the relays. And the boys team claimed four individual/relay medals at the PIAA championships.
Dustin Fuller, Mykhael Kelley, Darius Spinks, Jordan Thomas and Josh Wise are among the top returning lettermen.

Chartiers-Houston softball
Pitcher Kiersten Conwell is gone, but two-time All-State player Kayla Briggs will take over full-time pitching duties and Observer-Reporter Player of the Year Colby Miller is back behind the plate.
The Bucs lost one game last spring, but it came in the PIAA Class A semifinals. C-H will once again be in contention for a WPIAL championship, which would be the eighth in program history.
C-H hopes to have senior shortstop Rachel Tucker back for the start of the regular season.Tucker had a season-ending shoulder injury during basketball season.

Peters Township softball
Peters Township is the lone local softball team with a pair of Division I recruits in the starting lineup.
Pitcher Tara Konopka will play at Drexel next year, and she went 9-6 with 120 strikeouts and a 1.97 ERA as a junior. Shortstop Morgan Matetic is headed to George Washington and will be counted upon to drive in runs.
PT has several outstanding defensive players but, to piece together a run in rugged Class AAAA, the Indians will need more offense.

Trinity baseball
First-year coach Scott Henson inherits a quality pitching staff, and the majority of those pitchers are left-handed. It makes Trinity an intriguing team in Class AAA, and a good bet to get back to the postseason after a difficult 2011 season.
Senior Hunter Bigler will pitch at IUP next year, while junior Nick Riotto is a Penn State recruit.
Trinity should benefit from the new artificial playing surface at Consol Energy Park, where the Hillers play home games. Last year, the park wasn't completed in time for Trinity to start its season and the Hillers were one of the last WPIAL teams to play an official game.

Waynesburg baseball
The Raiders were the surprise of WPIAL Class AA baseball last year. After a season-opening loss to Beth-Center, Waynesburg didn't lose again until the WPIAL championship game, and that came by one run to eventual PIAA champion Riverside.
With a pair of Division II recruits in pitcher/infielder Joe Monica (Concord) and catcher Stephen McCaw (Mercyhurst), Waynesburg has one of the better one-two punches in the district. McCaw (pictured), the WPIAL Class AA Player of the Year as a junior, will pitch more this season.
Another key player for first-year coach Kevin Pinkavitch will be Alex Swauger, who bats in the middle of the order.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

One out of 256

Once Tuesday's play-in games are completed, a total of 256 boys and girls basketball teams will play in the first round of the PIAA basketball playoffs.

Of those 256 teams, a grand total of one hails from Washington County or Greene County.

Fort Cherry enters the PIAA Class A girls playoffs as the No. 3 seed from the WPIAL. The Rangers (23-2), whose only losses are to powers Vincentian Academy and North Catholic (both in tightly contested games), play Berlin (23-3) Saturday at Gateway High School. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m and will be followed by the Monessen boys against Westmont Hilltop at 6 p.m.

With a senior-dominated lineup and all-state caliber players in Beka Bellhy and Carolena Gasbarro plus a Division I track recruit in Jessie Merckle (Wake Forest), Fort Cherry is capable of making a considerable PIAA run.

Of course, if the Rangers get by Berlin, they'll likely draw perennial power Bishop Guilfoyle in the second round. Guilfoyle beat FC in the quarterfinals a year ago.

While Fort Cherry may be good, it's safe to say the 2011-12 basketball season is in a down cycle in most other area locations.

There were some good stories ... the Peters Township boys playing some of its best basketball under difficult circumstances, the West Greene girls winning a playoff game for the first time, the McGuffey boys making the playoffs for only the second time and the Trinity boys coming within a few points of qualifying fot the PIAA Class AAA playoffs to name a few.

Will next season be better? Perhaps. At least it should on the boys side.

Players like Gabe Pritz (Peters Township), Josh Wise (Washington), Zach Challingsworth (South Fayette) and Christian Koroly (Trinity) had strong junior seasons. Peters Township and Trinity return the vast majority of experience from solid teams. Washington drops to Class AA.

On the girls side, Fort Cherry will still be good, but the loss of all those seniors coupled with a move to a Class AA section with Seton-La Salle and Bishop Canevin will be a challenge. Chartiers-Houston brings back most of its players, but is joining FC in the same section. Wash High will be improved but need a scorer.

The number should be higher. It better be as the only way to put fewer teams into the state playoffs is qualifying no teams.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jewish school advances in Texas playoffs

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The boys basketball team from an Orthodox Jewish school in Texas won a playoff game that was rescheduled under threat of a lawsuit to Friday afternoon so it wouldn’t conflict with the Sabbath.
Beren Academy beat Dallas Covenant 58-46, a little more than 24 hours after finding out they would play. A crowd of about 100 relatives and friends of the Houston team, who scrambled to make travel arrangements Thursday afternoon, stood and cheered in the final seconds.
“It’s great — absolutely hard to describe,” team co-captain Isaac Buchine said after the game. “To find out (before the rescheduling) that other people would be playing in our spot didn’t sit well ... but we focused on the basketball aspect of it.”
The game was originally set for Friday night after the sunset that opens the Sabbath. Beren students say their faith prohibits participation between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or TAPPS, had initially rejected Beren Academy’s requests to reschedule the game. The league relented after several parents filed a federal lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order requiring TAPPS to move the game time.
Buchine said word quickly spread among the players at school on Thursday as they shouted, gave each other high-fives and started sending text messages to their teammates and other friends. Then the players had to go home and pack for the unexpected 250-mile van ride to Fort Worth.
The school will play in the championship game on Saturday night. The team will have about an hour to get ready and warm up beforehand.

Twitter Friday

My apologies to those who want a bland, boring blog.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @TheMikeKovak. Of course, for the complainers, that would eliminate the comfy anonymous label.

Eric Ellis, @Its_EDub_B****
March 1
"Accepted to #Lackawanna College #CollegeFootballTweet"

Luke Snatchko, @RealLIQUIDLUKE
March 1
"Pondering how Catholic girls are so much better at hoops than other girls. #WPIAL"

Joe Sager, @joesager
Feb. 27
"@malkin71 on hand to watch Penn-Trafford vs. Canon-Mac. #PIHL"

Chavas Rawlins, @UncleChav03
Feb. 26
"If I didn't play 5 other sports I would be doing so much more visits!! It's kind of annoying"

Corey Garry, @coreygarry
Feb. 25
"2012 #WPIAL champ! #WPIALgold #dreamsComeTrue #FCPride"

Elijah D. Hill, @Elijah12Hill
Feb. 25
"My bro @UncleChav03 & thm GreyHounds are going 2 repeat. No other team is messing w/ yall if it aint us. Nt GCC, BF, & it damn sure aint STO"

Sam Lawson, @LoggyBears
Feb. 25
"@TheMikeKovak where are you?!?! Rowdy red wants to see you! Come over! #joinus #wehavecookies #peters"

On Thursday, I asked followers if they read stories the day after a defeat. Only four responded. Here are the responses.

Joe Graziani, @JoeGrizz52
"always. You wanna know what people are thinking and saying about you."

Ben Maxin, @ActionMaxin
"I had 3 Bball girls come down to my room first thing to grab an O-R to read the game story... so yeah."

KenPgh33, @KenPgh33
"You can bet parents do to see if you had their kid's name in the story."
Doug Wilson, @dougie_fresh055
"I read it win or lose,wanna see an outsiders perspective"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

School back in Texas tourney

HOUSTON (AP) — An Orthodox Jewish school in Texas has been reinstated to its state basketball tournament after parents filed a lawsuit against organizers to reschedule the team’s game so it doesn’t conflict with the Sabbath.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, or TAPPS, had rejected Beren Academy’s requests to reschedule a semifinals game that was to be played at 9 p.m. Friday. Beren players observe the Sabbath between Friday night and Saturday night and won’t play basketball during those hours.
A group of parents with boys on the team subsequently sued TAPPS and sought a temporary restraining order requiring the agency to reschedule the game.
After being notified the lawsuit had been filed, TAPPS director Edd Burleson said the association would reverse course and allow Beren to play Friday afternoon.