Mike White | 8:45 a.m., Tuesday, January 27, 2009
They are only non-section contests, but two boys' basketball games this week match teams that are ranked 1-2 in their respective classes.
Tonight, Peters Township plays host to Latrobe in a Class AAAA showdown. Peters Township is the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team and Latrobe No. 2. Although Latrobe is 16-2, many question how good the Wildcats are because they play in Section 1, which is thought to be the weakest - from top to bottom - of the four Class AAAA sections. But Latrobe is experienced, they have a go-to guy in senior guard Jeff Yunetz and a lot better than people think.
Peters Township is 16-1 and has won 14 games in a row.
Prediction: Peters Township by five.
But Friday night brings us one of the most interesting matchups of the season when Hampton plays at Chartiers Valley in another 1-2 matchup. Chartiers Valley is 17-0 and the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked Class AAA team. Hampton is 15-3 and ranked No. 2.
Chartiers Valley has been awfully impressive, averaging 84.3 points a game this season, and creating havoc with a pressing defense. I've felt it would be interesting to see how Chartiers Valley does against a team with size, because Char Valley doesn't have a starter taller than 6 feet 2. This game will give an answer because Hampton might have to be the biggest team in the WPIAL. Hampton has two 6-7 players in Bill Luther and Tim Donegan. C.J. Brown is 6-8. Coach Joe Lafko doesn't always play the three together, but this team dwarfs every opponent.
Luther isn't your typical 6-7 player. On offense, he plays on the perimeter and is an excellent shooter - for a 6-7 player or a 5-10 player. Hampton will have trouble with Char Valley's quickness and it will be interesting to see if Hampton plays man-to-man and if the big players come out to guard Chartiers Valley's shooters. A key to the game, though, is Hampton point guard Matt Madia. He's talented and averages 19 a game. How well he plays against Chartiers Valley's pressure will be pivotal to Hampton's success.
Prediction: Chartiers Valley by 9.