Roundball Classic starts tonight ....... Blackhawk hires Lamenza as football coach

Written by Mike White on .

The Roundball Classic is bigger than ever and starts tonight.

The Roundball Classic has nothing to do with the old Dapper Dan Roundball Classic, except part of the name. But the Roundball is now the No. 1 event for Western Pa. basketball players - boys and girls. The entire event is held at Geneva College. The Roundball Classic banquet was last night and close to 500 people attended.

This year's Roundball is bigger than ever. Roundball director Allen Deep added two games this year and both will be played tonight. The main games are tomorrow. But there is an underclassmen showcase tonight at 6:30, followed by an East-West game at 8:30. Tomorrow, the girls games are at 2 and 4 and the boys games at 6 and 8.

All of the seniors on the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 teams will be in the games as well as the three Players of the Year -- Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell for the boys, and co-players of the year for the girls: Vincentian's Brenna Wise and Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso.

The rosters for the Roundball are listed below. But before we get to them, one piece of news on the football coaching front. Blackhawk has hired a new football coach - finally.

Legendary Joe Hamilton retired in January. But Blackhawk didn't name a new coach until Thursday night. Joe Lamenza takes over for Hamilton, who coached 49 seasons at four different schools. He is the second-winningest coach in WPIAL history.

Lamenza has been Mohawk's coach the past four seasons, where he had a 7-29 record. He coached West Mifflin for one season in 2006, but was not rehired after a 3-6 record. He also has been an assistant at Robert Morris and Ellwood City, Riverside and Beaver.

It is never easy to follow a legend. It won't be easy for Lamenza. But he has plenty of experience.

One of the other known finalists for the job was Kim Niedbala, a former Blackhawk player in the early 1990s. Niedbala has been an assistant for a number of years at Edinboro University and Clarion.

Now onto the Roundball Classic rosters.

At Geneva College
Tonight — Undergraduate game, 6:30 p.m.; East-West boys, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday — Class A/City League/District 6 & 10 vs. Class AA girls, 2 p.m.; Class AAA vs. Class AAAA girls, 4 p.m.; Class A/Prep schools vs. Class AA boys, 6 p.m.; Class AAA vs. Class AAAA boys, 8 p.m.
East — Billy Urso, Fox Chapel; Adam Witucki, Highlands; Marcus McGinniss, Upper St. Clair; Tyler Eadie, Laurel Highlands; Kindhal Taylor, North Hills; Chris McConnell, Indiana; Nick Tantuo, Kennedy Catholic; Kaison Branch, Highlands; Dequay Isbell, Washington; Noah Kunst, Kittanning; Alex Schoppen, Central Catholic; Justice Lewandowski, Butler; Matt Zannella, Knoch.
West — Jake Whitmer, Slippery Rock; Hunter Szilagy, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Danny Torok, Grove City; Santino Platt, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Chase Tomasetti, Lincoln Park; Logan Sheridan, Riverside; Nate Bell, Hopewell; Nick Barney, Beaver; Dylan Groff, Shady Side Academy; Matt Benson, Shenango; Zeph Rombold, New Brighton; James Micco, Shenango.
Class A/Prep Schools — Ryan Wolf, Vincentian; Mike Tappe, Aquinas Academy; Timon Gribbin, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic; Jamel Brown, Farrell; Dante Lombardi, Kiski School; Julian Batts, Jeannette; Carter Ehms, Eden Christian; Tray Matthews, California; Dane Jackson, Cornell; Kareem South, Kiski School; Rece Henneman, Jefferson-Morgan; Vince LeGrande, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic; Alex Otzyv, Kiski School.
Class AA — Stephon McGinnis, Aliquippa; Christian DelGreco, Seton-LaSalle; Isaac Williams, West Middlesex; Darrien Fields, Aliquippa; Alec Ferrari, Chartiers-Houston; Ryan Smith, Shenango; Zach Gould, Riverside; Antonio Kellem, Lincoln Park; Romano Sebastiani, Greensburg Central Catholic; Darrell Baron, Northgate; Trey Staunch, West Middlesex; Ryan Norkus, Seton-LaSalle; Chris Conlan, Quaker Valley; Troy Elphinstone, Brentwood.
Class AAA — Javon Turner, Beaver Falls; Joey Lafko, Hampton; Jack Relihan, South Fayette; David Huber, Hampton; John George, Central Valley; Robert Natale, New Castle; Blake Shields, Indiana; Justin Gorny, South Park; Daylon Carter, Ambridge; Riley Stapleton, Indiana; Joe Campbell, Uniontown; Andrew Koester, West Allegheny; Dom Keyes, Steel Valley; Dan Wanker, South Park; George Prota, Elizabeth Forward.
Class AAAA — Joe Mascaro, Bethel Park; Curtis Perz, Norwin; Matty McConnell, Chartiers Valley; Will Sandherr, North Allegheny; Jonny David, Mt. Lebanon; Kason Harrell, Hempfield; Cole Constantino, North Allegheny; Mike Simmons, Kiski Area; Matt Cullen, Latrobe; Khalil Perdue, McKeesport; DeAndre Schifino, Penn Hills; Logan Swan, Hempfield; Daylon Harris, Gateway; Zach Snyder, Seneca Valley; Patrick Ehland, Mt. Lebanon; Tony Pilato, Hempfield.
Class A/City League/District 6 & 10 — Chardonnay Littlejohn, Carrick; Katie Sieg, Serra Catholic; Kaitlyn Smith, Quigley Catholic; Ciara Clark, Aliquippa; Brandi Beader, Hickory; Liz Duer, Quigley Catholic; Tatum Kress, Kennedy Catholic; Chelsey Koren, Blairsville; Tina Bellhy, Fort Cherry; Nicole LaCava, Hickory; Heidi Langhorst, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Brenna Wise, Vincentian; Lyndsey Huhn, California.
(Pictured are Vincentian's Brenna Wise and Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso, Post-Gazette Players of the Year who are in the Roundball). 
Class AA — Cassidy Guiser, Frazier; Carolyn Appleby, Greensburg Central Catholic; Sydney Bordonaro, Burrell; Caroline Cree, Carmichaels; Samantha Carr, Mohawk; Anna Bartman, Beth-Center; Ellen Shaffer, Laurel; Cassidy Walsh, Seton-LaSalle; Madison McHale, Neshannock; Jordan Melko, Carlynton; Nicolete Newman, Seton-LaSalle; Nikki Adisey, Greensburg Central Catholic; Cheyenne Seik, South Side Beaver; Tayler Grybowski, Neshannock; Conor Richardson, Carlynton; Leah Bisignani, Greensburg Central Catholic.
Class AAA — Chassidy Omogrosso, Blackhawk; Lesi Posset, Beaver; Claire Oberdorf, Greensburg Salem; Sara Getsy, Mars; Abigail Sporio, Elizabeth Forward; Bridget Shaffer, Blackhawk; Alexa Golden, Chartiers Valley; Alexa Szelong, Mount Pleasant; Ali Goetz, Mars; Melissa Rickens, Chartiers Valley; Sammie Weiss, McGuffey; Kelly Haslett, Ambridge; Courtney Vannoy, Blackhawk; Kaitlyn Slagus, Belle Vernon; Marlena Schmidt, Ringgold.
Class AAAA — Madison Serio, Upper St. Clair; Liz Kline, Shaler; Casey Aunkst, Penn-Trafford; Diandra Conwell, Upper St. Clair; Delaney Arbore, Norwin; Delaney Arbore, Norwin; Devvin LaBarge, North Allegheny; Rachel Mazzie, Upper St. Clair; Leah Knizner, Hempfield; Katy Abreu, Penn-Traford; Kaitlyn Chess, Bethel Park; Danielle Parker, Canon-McMillan; Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford; Andi Lydon, Shaler; Meg Morningstar, North Allegheny; Courtney Zezza, Plum.



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In 47th season as coach, Oliastro has Riverside winning again ...... Basketball notes

Written by Mike White on .

Some items that fell off my laptop

Dan Oliastro has been coaching the Riverside High School baseball team almost a half century, and there are no signs of him slowing down.

Oliastro is 71 and in his 47th season as Riverside's coach. The Panthers entered today's game with a 6-0 record. It looks like they might be one of the top teams in Class AA again.

But 47 seasons as high school head coach? In these days of guys not even lasting 10 years as a coach, that's incredible. Oliastro is believed to be the second-winningest coach in WPIAL history with a record of 571-382.

He is the only coach in Pennsylvania with four PIAA titles and he has won three WPIAL championships. 

**** With the rain all of last week, some baseball teams might be playing four section games this week. Ouch.

***** Worst job in high school sports after a week of rainy weather? Athletic director. Or maybe the athletic office secretary.

**** Turning to basketball, the WPIAL boys class of 2015 was considered down. Only three players signed with Division I colleges - Chartiers Valley's Matty McConnell with Robert Morris, Hempfield's Kason Harrell with IPFW and Latrobe's Matt Cullen with Navy. But it looks like the class of 2016 might have even less Division I talent. We'll see.

But the current sophomore class looks like it has some definite talent. Some Division I talent. And the freshman class might have some players also. I've said it before. Keep an eye on Mars freshman Robby Carmody (pictured). He could be fairly heavily recruited if he keeps getting better and keeps growing. He's playing AAU this spring with the Ohio Basketball Club, which always has a number of Division I college players.

Carmody played in the first round of the adidas Gauntlet this weekend in Dallas and scored 17, 13, 15 and 18 points in four games, playing in the 15-and-under division.

Former Lincoln Park player Maverick Rowan played for the Ohio Basketball Club's 17-and-under team and named him as one of the top performers of the adidas Gauntlet along with Pitt recruit Mustapha Heron, who played for the New York Rens.

Rowan transferred to Cardinal Gibbons High in Florida for this school year. He is a junior eligibility wise, but might try to graduate early and attend college in the fall.

**** The annual Roundball Classic is this Saturday at Geneva College. The four-game event includes the top players in the WPIAL and City League. Two girls games will be followed by two boys games. It all starts at 2 p.m.

**** The 20th annual Hoops for the Cure all-star basketball games were Saturday at Chartiers Valley. The games included many of the top players in the WPIAL. The MVPs were Hempfield's Kason Harrell and Steel Valley's Dom Keyes for the boys, and McGuffey's Sammie Weiss and Carlynton's Jordan Melko for the girls.

**** The start of preseason football camp is about four months away. Still no football coach hired at Blackhawk. Wow. And Joe Hamilton retired in mid-January.

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Montour sophomore pitcher Vietmeier picks LSU

Written by Mike White on .

Trent Vietmeier is only a sophomore at Montour High School, but he already has decided where he wants to play college baseball - and it's at one of the top programs in the country.

Vietmeier, a 6-foot-3 1/2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, made a verbal commitment to Louisiana State University Sunday. Vietmeier is ranked the No. 27 sophomore in the country by Perfect Game, a baseball scouting organization.

Vietmeier was already being recruited by a number of major colleges. He chose LSU over Pitt, Penn State, Louisville and Virginia. LSU is one of the top programs in the country and has won six NCAA championships, all since 1991.

In college baseball recruiting, it is pretty much unheard of for a high school player to get a full scholarship because Division I teams can only have a maximum of 11.7 scholarships. So they spread the scholarships out among their team. But schools recruiting Vietmeier were offering in the neighborhood of 80 percent scholarship, which is a lot for baseball..

"I thought he was leaning toward LSU," said Glenn Vietmeier, Trent's father and Montour's coach. "I never interfered with him. He said he wanted to make this decision on his own and he just thought LSU was the best and it really is a top program."

Trent Vietmeier is in his second year on the Montour varsity and has yet to give up a run. He has pitched 19 scoreless innings in two years, working mostly as a closer. He is 1-0 with one save and has pitched 6 2/3 innings this year. He will probably used as a starter more, possibly this week.

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McKay outstanding again at Louisville ..... Beaver Falls runner sets three records

Written by Mike White on .

A few notes on some current and former WPIAL athletes

Former Blackhawk High School star pitcher Brendan McKay sustained his first defeat as a college pitcher Saturday, but it was still another impressive performance from McKay.

McKay is a freshman pitcher at the University of Louisville, the No. 5-ranked team in the country. He was the losing pitcher in a 2-1 setback to Duke. But McKay pitched seven innings, gave up only one earned run and four hits, struck out eight and walked one. He also was 2 for 3 as a hitter.

McKay, who turned out to be one of the best pitchers in WPIAL history, has made a gigantic impact in his first year of college baseball (photo courtesy of Louisville athletics). He is now 5-1 and he is among the leaders in the country in some statistical categories. In games through Friday, the left-handed McKay was No. 2 in the country in hits allowed per nine innings (4.05), No. 9 in strikeouts per nine innings (12.38) and No. 8 in WHIP (.78).

His performance against Duke lowered his ERA to 1.91. He has started five games, all against ACC foes, and he has a 2.57 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 35 innings in those games. Before he became a starter, he had four saves.

Suffice it to say he is one of the best freshman pitchers in the country. Wait. He might have to be one of the best pitchers in the country, regardless of class. 

Besides his pitching, McKay is fourth on the team in hitting at .292. He batted cleanup against Duke. How many top college pitchers do you see also bat fourth at the Division I level? McKay has six doubles, one home run and 14 RBIs for the season. He was 2 for 3 against Duke. 

Perretta breaks three records

It sounds like a broken record:

Dom Perretta sets a meet record in the Warrior Track Classic.

Dom Perretta sets a meet record in the Warrior Track Classic.

Dom Perretta sets a meet record in the Warrior Track Classic.

In one of the most impressive performances of the WPIAL track season so far, Perretta set meet records in not one, not two, but three running events in Saturday's Warrior Track Classic at Central Valley. (Perretta is pictured at last year's PIAA meet).

Perretta won the 400 meters at the Warrior Classic in 51.15, the 800 in 1:56.26 and the 1,600 in 4:19.76.

It really shouldn't be a big surprise that Perretta won the 800 and 1,600. He won PIAA Class AA championships in both events last year as a sophomore. But Saturday was the first time he ran the 400 in a high school meet. Pretty impressive. And consider this: His 1,600 time of 4:19.76 was better than the 4:19.82 that he won the PIAA title with last spring.


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Remembering Marc Marotta, a former Western Pa., and Central Catholic basketball star

Written by Mike White on .

A walk around Marc Marotta's home in Milwaukee told plenty about one of Mr. Marotta's passions.

"He just built a beautiful new home and I visited him there last year," said Pat Farrell, a friend of Marotta's since high school. "There was a full basketball court in it with a big Marquette logo on it."

Marquette University and basketball were a big part of Marotta's life. But only after he established himself as a terrific high school player in Western Pennsylvania.

Marotta, who starred at Pittsburgh Central Catholic and had a legendary playoff performance 35 years ago, died of a brain aneurysm Wednesday in Milwaukee. He was 52. Marotta has lived in Milwaukee since his playing days at Marquette (Marotta is pictured during his days at Marquette).

"He really made it big as far as a lawyer and in the business world, but he still loved basketball," said Farrell, who was a teammate of Marotta at Central Catholic. Farrell also was an excellent player who was recruited by many major colleges. Farrell went on to play at Duquesne University.

Marotta graduated from Central Catholic in 1980. At Marquette, he was a three-year starter and three-time academic All-American. A 6-foot-7 forward, Marotta scored 981 points and was a tri-captain as a senior. One of the others was Doc Rivers.

Marotta was selected in the ninth round of the NBA draft by the New York Knicks. But a knee injury and the desire to attend law school kept Marotta out of the pros.

Marotta attended Harvard Law School and eventually became a partner and business lawyer at Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee. Marotta also dabbled in politics. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1992. He also was secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration from 2003-05 under then-Gov. Jim Doyle. Until his death, Marotta was a highly-respected figure in Milwaukee and was the chairman of the board of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, home of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team.

But Marotta first made a name for himself in basketball at Central Catholic. Marotta grew up in Highland Park and was a three-year starter at Central Catholic, finishing with 1,634 points. He is one of only four Central Catholic players to score. As a senior, Marotta averaged 26 points and 18 rebounds and was selected to the Post-Gazette Fabulous Five all-star team along with Frank Dobbs of Allderdice, Hal Bentley of New Brighton, Dwight Collins of Beaver Falls and Cleveland "Shang" Bibbens of Brashear.

"Fifteen feet and in, he wasn't missing a shot," said Chuck Crummie, Central Catholic's current coach who was an assistant under Dan Pacella during Marotta's days.

Farrell said, "He had a great mid-range game. He also had enormously strong hands. That ball looked like a softball in his hands."

On Feb. 26, 1980, Marotta had a game for the ages. Central Catholic played Latrobe in a WPIAL Class AAA playoff game and Marotta torched Latrobe for 48 points. The point total is still the second-highest in more than 100 years of WPIAL playoff basketball.

"I got a lot of assists that night because I threw him a lot of those passes, and that ball wasn't coming back out when you threw it into him," Farrell said with a laugh. "I just remember, he could not miss. That was the best offensive game I have ever seen anybody have in a high school game."

Marotta's final list of colleges should tell you enough about his talent. He was heavily recruited before narrowing his choices to Marquette, Duquesne, Villanova and Southern California.

But those who know him said one of Marotta's best qualities was his attitude and persona.

"You would never knew he was the big jock on the walk," said Crummie. "He was never a braggart even though he was heavily recruited. He was one of those guys who had a presence about him, but wasn't seeking the limelight. He was a good guy first who just happened to be a good basketball player."

Marotta's death hit home with me. He's the same age as me. We graduated high school the same year. Back in 1975, I attended the Pitt basketball camp, run by then coach Tim Grgurich. Marotta and I were both heading into eighth grade (Marotta at Sacred Heart), but Marotta was so big and talented, he played in the division with the high-school age kids. But in camp contests, he played against 7th and 8th graders. I was lucky enough to make it to the finals of the one-and-one tournament. I was unlucky enough to meet Marotta in the championship. He crushed me.

But you want to hear something else crazy. The kid I beat in the semifinals of the one-on-one tournament was Mike McCarthy, who attended St. Rosalia. Yep, the same Mike McCarthy who is the Green Bay Packers coach.

But back to Marotta. When he would come back to Pittsburgh to visit family, he and Farrell would usually get together. When they were in high school, Farrell said he introduced Marotta to golf. Farrell said he took Marotta golfing the first time - to fabled Oakmont, where Farrell's family belong.

"He really became a big golfer and was pretty good at it," said Farrell. "He had a client who belonged to Augusta. He always said he would take me to Augusta someday. 

"The type of kid he was, he used to sometimes help me study for tests in our locker room. When I visited him in Milwaukee last year, he would get up at 5:30 and work out. He was in great shape and really took care of himself. That's why this is hard. ... With the family he had, the success he had and the way he lived, he was just a wonderful human being."

Marotta is survived by his wife, Kim, and four children – Karley, Chloe, Cameron and McKenna. Visitation will be Monday at 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee, followed by a funeral mass.


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