By Mike White | Wednesday, March 23, 2010, 11:05 a.m.
Below are some comments from today's conference call with coaches who are in state championship games. Also, some notes, thoughts and anecdotes after Tuesday's PIAA semifinals.
First, a future blog note. We will have a live blog tonight with reports from the games involving WPIAL teams.
The PIAA just finished a conference call with Reading Central Catholic coach Skip Esterly and Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer. Here are some of their comments:
On standout junior guard Marcus Dawkins: "He's probably one of the most unselfish players I've ever had at Central. He's just been fitting in tremendously. I can't say enough about him. He could be averaging 30 points a game, but he is very, very unselfish."
(By the way, click here to read a story on Reading Central's semifinal win from the Reading Eagle and to see a photo of Dawkins).
On Sewickley Academy's size: "We really haven't gone against someone with their size, like the 6-7 kid [Pete Schramm] and 6-6 Tom Droney."
On sophomore forward Donovan Jack, who has five consecutive double-doubles: "He's already getting some looks from colleges."
On Reading Central Catholic's style: "I'd compare them favorably with South Fayette. What really impressed me with Central is they spread the ball around so you can't just focus on one of their guys. They're very unselfish and extremely well-coached. I think it's a good matchup because I think the two teams share a lot of similarities."
On Danny Timpona, a starting guard who has a concussion and will not play: "He got the concussion in the WPIAL championship game, but we were not aware until after the game. The good news is that in another couple weeks, Danny will be just perfectly fine. But we don't want to take any chances right now."
We'll have comments from Chartiers Valley and Neumann-Goretti coaches later.
The stars came out just at the right time last night.
Many consider Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell and Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney the top players in the WPIAL. Their teams count on them heavily - and they came through in the clutch at last night's PIAA semifinals.
McConnell, facing a box-and-one defense all night, scored 10 points in the final 4:30 to help Chartiers Valley beat Hampton, 76-67. Up until then he had only 13 points and Chartiers Valley led by only one before his outburst. McConnell is the leading scorer in the state at 34 points a game.
McConnell finished with 23 points and now has 2,372 career points. He needs only four to tie one of the greatest basketball players in WPIAL history. Don Hennon played at Wampum in the 1950s and had 2,372 career points. How good was Hennon? Well this should tell you something. Hennon went on to become a first-team All-American at Pitt in 1958. The other members of the All-American team were Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertston, Elgin Baylor and Guy Rodgers. For any high school kids reading this who might not know, Chamberlain, Robertson and Baylor are three of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA.
Hennon held the WPIAL scoring record from 1955 until Valley's Tom Pipkins broke it in 1993.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the doubleheader at Palumbo, Droney made a driving shot with 3.9 seconds left, was fouled and made the free throw to give Sewickley Academy a 50-47 victory against Lincoln Park. Droney finished with 29 points.
It was the second time Droney beat Lincoln Park this season. He made a 3-pointer late in the game to beat Lincoln Park in the WPIAL final. The photo to the right is of Droney making the winning shot last night against Devontae Watson of Lincoln Park.
Chartiers Valley and Sewickley Academy will face excellent guards in the championship. Neumann-Goretti, which will play Chartiers Valley, has Tony Chennault, who is headed to Wake Forest. The Saints also have two other guards headed to Division I colleges.
Reading Central Catholic will play Sewickley and RCC features Marcus Dawkins, a junior who is a definite Divisioin I prospect.