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Things are peachy for Plum this season

Written by Mike White on .

Four years ago, when Ron Richards was in his first season of his second stint as Plum's boys basketball coach, he said something to me that I always remember. Maybe all coaches should keep in mind Richards' comments.

"The big thing I thought about before I even came back was I didn't want to be the same coach as before," Richards said in 2010. "I didn't want to fight every battle, on and off the court. I'm aware of some of the problems I got myself involved in during the past with officials and even parental issues. I brought some of them on myself.

"I said to myself this time that if I'm going to do this, I want to enjoy it more. Anyone who coaches, I don't know if we take enough time to enjoy the good things about it. I'm not talking about just the winning and some of the other fun things. I'm talking about just enjoying being around kids. I really want to focus on the enjoyable things this time."

Is Richards enjoying things more now? Who knows. But he has to be enjoying what is going on with Plum this season.

This has the makings of one of the best seasons in Plum history. The Mustangs are 12-1, with the only loss coming to Gateway. Plum moved into the Post-Gazette WPIAL Class AAAA rankings this week at No. 5. Plum and Gateway are tied for first place in Class AAAA Section 2 at 6-1.

The top of Section 2 is filled with good teams this year, but there is a possibility that Plum might win only its third section title in school history. The others came in 2000 and 2010. Both of those years the Mustangs tied for the section title.

Richards was the coach of both of those section championship teams. He coached Plum for nine seasons before resigning in 2007. He had a record of 139-94 and won 20 or more games twice. He started his second stint in 2009. Look at his past record and successes and you have to put him with the better coaches in the entire WPIAL.

And no matter what happens this season, Richards also is looking forward to the future. He believes some of Plum's best teams might be in the next couple years. He plays a number of sophomores and even a freshman.

The return of Luther

I'm hearing there is a good chance that Hampton's Ryan Luther will play tonight against North Hills. Luther, a Pitt recruit, has missed the past three games with an ankle injury.

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Oscar nominee Joe Letteri on creating "The Hobbit's" Smaug

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

hobbitJoe

AFP Photo 

The team behind the creation of Smaug: From left, Eric Saindon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Jackson and Joe Letteri.

WETA visual effects wizard Joe Letteri, a proud Aliquippa native and four-time Oscar winner, earned his eighth nomination yesterday for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." He shares the nomination with colleagues Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White. 

In a statement, Letteri said, "It is a great honour to be recognized by the Academy for our continuing journey through Middle-earth. It was a special highlight to be able to work with Peter Jackson and Benedict Cumberbatch to bring Tolkien's great dragon Smaug to the screen."

There's one more "Hobbit" film to go, "There and Back Again," and he is also visual effects supervisor for DC's "Batman vs. Superman" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."

 

 

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Surgeon General

Written by Rob Rogers on .

It has been fifty years since the release of a study showing a direct link between smoking and lung disease. Many people have taken the Surgeon General's Warning seriously ... while others can't quit despite the evidence. Meanwhile, the tobacco companies continue to get rich.

011714 Surgeon General

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Robert Morris loses lead, gains it back and tops Saint Francis

Written by Craig Meyer on .

 

In a season riddled with inconsistency and missed opportunities, Robert Morris’ game Thursday night against Saint Francis had a slightly familiar feel to it.

What was once a comfortable 11-point lead had been turned into an 11-point deficit with only a handful of minutes left in the game. What was once a team brimming with confidence soon became one that seemingly couldn’t score.

But in an up-and-down contest, it was the Colonials who were able to get a decisive final surge.

Trailing by 11 points with just over four minutes remaining, Robert Morris finished the game on a 19-3 run to defeat the Red Flash, 73-68, at the Sewall Center.

The victory gave the Colonials (8-10, 3-0 Northeast Conference) a season-high three-game win streak and marked their 12th consecutive win against Saint Francis.

Thursday’s victory may have not resembled the ones of recent seasons, but by the end, it read like a collective exhale. And, most importantly, it was just enough to continue a promising start to conference play.

“I’m thankful to have won the game,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “That’s the best way to describe it, as being thankful.”

For much of the game, it didn’t appear like the late drama would be much of a possibility. The Colonials built a 12-point halftime lead and had an 11-point advantage with about 11 minutes remaining.

From there, however, it all began to fall apart.

In a six-minute period, Saint Francis went on a 26-4 run, one in which the Red Flash (3-12, 1-2) made five of its six 3-point attempts while the Colonials were held to just one made field goal. That scoring blitz gave the Red Flash a 65-54 lead with 4:20 remaining.

“We kind of let our foot off the gas a little bit,” Colonials guard Karvel Anderson said. “We stopped respecting our opponent and it gave them life. And we got desperate when we were down.

“We definitely didn’t want to lose at home and we feel like we have a lot of confidence right now. This was one of those games that we would have regretted for a long time if we had lost.”

But soon enough, it was Robert Morris’ turn to change the complexion of the game – this time for good.

Buoyed by five points from Lucky Jones, the Colonials went on a 13-2 run to take a one-point lead with 1:36 remaining. It was one that would hold for the remainder of the game, with freshman Jeremiah Worthem’s two free throws in the final five seconds sealing the improbable win.

In what could have been a moment of panic, Robert Morris found a groove at an all-too-critical time.

“Once one person’s going, everyone’s going,” Jones said. “That’s what gave us the lead tonight.”

Anderson led all scorers with 24 points, while Jones and Worthem each added 12.

For Toole, there’s a hope that lessons will be found a chaotic win for a team that, despite its imperfections, looks to be finding its way.

“For them to be able to figure out a way to rally and get back into it and obviously end up winning the game, it’s something we’ve got to end up using as a positive,” he said. “Hopefully we’re mature enough to learn from a win in the way that you prepare yourself and the way you sustain your effort through the course of a game, but we’ll figure out if that’s true going forward.”

 

 

Note: Guard Desjuan Newton was not in uniform and was not on the team's bench Thursday night. He had missed some practices during the week, as well. When asked about Newton's status after the game, Andy Toole said it was "unclear."

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

 

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North Catholic's Long an All-American

Written by Mike White on .

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Ryan Long is one of the best linemen in the country at a small high school. At least so says Maxpreps.com.

Ryan LongLong has been named to the Maxpreps.com Small School All-American team. Only 60 players were picked to the team and they come from schools who play in a small classification and have an enrollment of less than 1,000.

Long was a force on both offense and defense for North Catholic, which went 16-0 and won WPIAL and PIAA Class A championships this season. He was the co-lineman of the year in the Eastern Conference.

Maxpreps.com has a brief bio on every player on the Small Schools All-American team. South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh made the Medium Schools All-American team. The Big Schools All-American team has yet to be released.

Carmody gets 200th

Mars boys basketball coach Rob Carmody got his 200th career win Wednesday night. 

Carmody is in his 16th season at Mars. He definitely has upgraded the Planets' program. Last year, they made it to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in school history. What's interesting is that almost half of Carmody's wins have come in the past six seasons. He is 93-39 since the 2008-09 season.

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