This, that and the other thing about the state basketball semifinals
Four WPIAL boys teams and one from the City League have made it to Tuesday's semifinals of the state basketball playoffs. A few of those teams are facing some big-time talent. And if they win, more major-college talent could be ahead in the title games.
First off, City League champ Allderdice plays Reading in the Class AAAA semifinals. Reading has 6-foot-4 guard Lonnie Walker, who is considered one of the top juniors in the country. He is ranked among the top 30 juniors by most scouting services. ESPN ranks him the No. 4 shooting guard in the country among juniors. Villanova, Indiana and Oregon are among the schools that already have offered him scholarships.
The thing about Walker, though, is he is not that big of a scorer. He averages 16 points a game, which is still pretty good. But he did score 30 in the quarterfinals against Chester.
If Allderdice would win, it would play in the title game against the winner of Roman Catholic and Plymouth-Whitemarsh. Roman is the defending champion and has three players who have signed with Penn State - 6-4 Tony Carr, 6-6 Lamar Stevens and 6-4 Nazeer Bostick.
In Class AAA, Mars plays Bishop McDevitt of Harrisburg. Bishop McDevitt has three guards who are Division I FOOTBALL recruits.
If Mars would win, it would play the winner of Neumann-Goretti and Imhotep Charter. Neumann-Goretti has won five of the past six Class AAA state titles and this team is loaded again. Two seniors from Neumann-Goretti have signed with Division I colleges, and two are ranked among the top 150 juniors in the country.
Zane Martin, a 6-3 senior, has signed with Towson and 6-2 Rasheed Browne with Florida Gulf Coast. Quade Green, a 6-foot guard, is ranked the No. 50 junior in the country and 6-8 Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree the No. 108 junior.
Imhotep has Daron Russell, a junior guard who has offers from Seton Hall, VCU and Temple, among others.
In Class A, Sewickley Academy plays in the semifinals against Kennedy Catholic, which features 6-8 Sogaba Konate, a West Virginia University recruit. Konate also isn't a gigantic scorer. He averages 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. Two other Kennedy players also average 15 points.
About the games
The WPIAL is guaranteed one team in the state final. Aliquippa and Lincoln Park - two WPIAL teams - meet in the Class AA semifinals.
It seems Mars is an underdog against Bishop McDevitt. But I really believe Mars has a real chance to win this game. Bishop McDevitt is impressive but Mars has played some good competition this year and the Planets are pretty darn good.
I've seen some WPIAL teams get blown out by some eastern teams in recent semifinals. But I've seen WPIAL teams who weren't given much of a chance play even with some eastern teams - and even win. In fact, I'll go on a limb and predict a Mars win.
As for the Allderdice-Reading game, Allderdice is good enough to win. Believe it. Reading is obviously talented and Walker is a big-timer. But this Allderdice team can play with anyone in the state. The Dragons are that good. Reading has talented guards, but hey, so does Allderdice.
I have a funny feeling that Allderdice's 6-5 Jordan Rawls and 6-9 Tim Pugh could have a big impact on the game. (Rawls is pictured on the right, defending Pine-Richland's Alex Goitz in last week's second-round game).
There is one common opponent - Carlisle. Reading beat Carlisle in overtime in the District 3 quarterfinals. Allderdice came on strong in the second half and beat Carlisle, 59-42, this past Saturday.
I'll go with Allderdice.
A home game for Reading?
Reading has a huge following of fans. Reading played Chester Saturday at Temple and about 4,000 fans attended. I've seen pictures on Twitter today of Reading fans waiting in a long line to purchase tickets at the school. Reading fans aren't happy the game is at Chambersburg High School because they believe it isn't big enough to accommodate their fans.
Mapquest says it's a two-hour drive to Chambersburg. I've driven to Chambersburg a number of times. It's about three hours from Pittsburgh. But Allderdice coach Buddy Valinsky knows what is ahead for his team.
"For us, it's going to be an away game because of all their fans," said Valinsky. "The traveling we've done this year, going on the road for games out of the area, hopefully we're used to this type of atmosphere.
"We played Imhotep Charter this year, left Saturday morning and drove five hours on a bus, and then played at 5:30 or 6. So hopefully we're used to these type of games."
Allderdice has never made it to a state championship game. Reading has made it only twice and the last time was 1973 when Reading lost to General Braddock, 63-52. I was a kid then and I think I still remember watching that game on WQED Channel 13. I remember General Braddock star Hosea Champine. Loved that name. And I remember Stu Jackson for Reading. I just remember he had a ton of points.
Looking back, Jackson had 38 points, which stood as a state record until Billy Owens scored 53 in a 1988 final. Jackson went on to coach in the NBA.
General Braddock won the game when Darryl "Ice Man" Washington made the second of two free throws with no time on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Oh, the memories.
Live chat tomorrow
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This Week In High School Sports
Wanna hear some predictions and talk on all boys and girls semifinal games? Check out "This Week In High School Sports" with yours truly and Terry Shields. We'll preview the championships Thursday.