Plum's Adamski, Vincentian's Cortese off to terrific starts

Written by Mike White on .

Talk about good starts. For Plum softball player Hannah Adamski and Vincentian baseball player Jay Cortese, it's more like torrid starts.

Adamski's start has been on the unbelievable side. She has been up 11 times in three games and has eight hits. But get this: She has seven home runs. And she's only a sophomore.

Adamski hit three home runs in the first game and two in each of the next two games. All of them were over the fence. No inside-the-park jobs. She's a darn good athlete,  too. She qualified for the PIAA swimming championships earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Cortese has had quite the two days. Yesterday, he pitched a one-hitter and struck out 12 against Karns City. Today against Springdale, he hit for the cycle and had nine RBIs. He was 5 for 5 with a single, triple, home run and two doubles.

Cortese also is a good athlete. He was a starter on Vincentian's basketball team that made it to the WPIAL Class A semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals.


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West Liberty gives more Pittsburgh connections to the NCAA tournament

Written by Mike White on .

It has been documented this week how this is a one-of-a-kind year with Pittsburgh area connections in the NCAA tournament. The Millers - Archie and Sean of Blackhawk - are coaching brothers who have made the Elite 8 at Dayton and Arizona, and Kentucky's John Calipari (Moon) will try to join them tonight.

Arizona plYWE T.J. McConnell (Chartiers Valley) is in the Elite 8. Iowa State's DeAndre Kane (Schenley) will try to join him tonight.

But now there's even more to add to this Pittsburgh-NCAA connection that really is making this an unbelievable year. The West Liberty University team has made it to the NCAA Division II national championship game tomorrow. West Liberty beat South Carolina Aiken, 86-83, in last night's semifinals. 

Mike LambertiWest Liberty has three WPIAL players and two of them are significant parts of the team. Mike Lamberti (pictured to the left), a graduate of South Fayette, started last night's semifinal and had six points in 13 minutes. C.J. Hester of West Mifflin is one of the top C.J. Hesterplayers on the team. Although he isn't starting now, Hester (pictured to the right) still is a vital part of the Hilltoppers and is third in scoring at 14.3 points a game. He played 23 minutes in the semifinals and scored nine points.

Both Lamberti and Hester have both started 17 games this season. Lamberti plays 14 minutes a game and averages 4.8 points. Hester is second on the team in minutes at 28 a game.

Lamberti is a 6-5 sophomore forward and Hester a 6-4 junior forward. Hester has scored more than 1,000 points for his career.

West Liberty is in the national championship game for the first time in school history. West Liberty (31-3) will play Central Missouri (29-5) tomorrow at 3 in Evansville, Ind., in a game that will be televised live by CBS.

The Millers, Calipari, McConnell, Kane and now Lamberti and Hester, this really is an incredible year for Pittsburgh hoops "representing."

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Remembering Sean and Archie Miller before they were Sweet 16 coaches

Written by Mike White on .

One of the hot stories heading into the NCAA Sweet 16 is the Miller brothers. Rick Reilly of did a story on Sean and Archie, the first brothers to coach in the Sweet 16 in the same year. Much of the story was on their father, John.

USA Today also featured the two brothers - Sean the University of Arizona coach and Archie the coach at Dayton.

All of the attention given to the family this week got me to thinking about the many years of covering all the Millers at Blackhawk High School and beyond. Heck, I could probably wallpaper a room with all of the articles I did on them. Whether with Sean or Archie playing, or with John coaching, the Millers were in 18 championship games (13 WPIAL and five state). I figured out I covered 16 of those for the Post-Gazette and watched the other two. Geez. I guess that just says I've been doing this a long, long time and I'm definitely getting a "little" older. But just a little.

So as we head into Miller Time tonight in the Sweet 16, let's play I remember when ... 

**** The coaching all started for Sean. He was coaching a team of 8th or 9th graders in the old Ozanam Summer League in the Hill District in the late 1980s. I took my nephew to watch a game and remember saying "Isn't it obviouls Sean will definitely be a coach someday?" Sean and Pitt teammate Darelle Porter ended up coaching a team of 9th graders that were the Pittsburgh JOTS AAU team. (The picture below is of Sean and Darelle at a JOTS practice at the Pitt Field House. Don't you love Sean's short shorts?). Run by J.O. Stright, this team was the start of the JOTS. The team, which had Valley star Tom Pipkins, eventually went to nationals and did well.


Sean Miller and Darelle 450x338

**** Sean helped Blackhawk win its first WPIAL title in 1986. It was a memorable game as Blackhawk beat Ellwood CIty, 71-70. It was a great dual between Sean and his friend, Dan Aloi. Aloi scored 39 points and Sean scored 14 of his 20 in the second half to bring Blackhawk back from a 14-point halftime deficit. Aloi had a half-court shot, I think, bounce off the rim at the buzzer.

**** Sean led Blackhawk to the WPIAL title game the following year. Sean had a terrific senior year but he didn't Sean Miller 1986 WPIAL final 338x450have much help that year and Blackhawk lost to Aliquippa, 51-37. Sean was averaging 29 a game but was held to 10 as Aliquippa surprisingly played a 2-3 zone, shadowing Sean everywhere he went. (Photo is of Sean driving against Aliquippa and Willie Lindsey).

**** Undefeated Blackhawk (with Dante Calabria) lost to Perry in a great game in the state semifinals at the Pitt Field House in 1991. Sean, a Pitt player then who was in the stands, was so upset near the end of the game that he threw his keys on the court (I think he still denies this, ha ha)

Archie Miller playing 319x425**** Archie (pictured) was the giant Franklin killer. As a sophomore he scored a three-point play with three seconds left to beat Franklin in the 1995 state playoffs second round. As a junior, he hit the winning shot with four seconds left in the second overtime to beat Franklin in the semifinals. As a senior, he scored 35 to beat Franklin in the first round.

**** Archie was a seldom-used freshman point guard, but was put into the game late in the 1994 WPIAL final against Beaver Falls because point guard Aidan McCann fouled out. Oh-oh. He dribbled the ball out of bounds off his foot and committed a key turnover in a Blackhawk loss (sorry to bring that up, Arch).

**** One day, I asked Archie how he got his name because his real first name is Ryan. "I don't know, one day when I was little Sean just looked at me when I was doing something and said 'You look like you should be an Archie.' And the name just stuck."

**** Sean told me his free-throw routine "one ... two ... three ... elbow to knee." (The photo is of Sean in his sophomore year at Blackhawk. Funny to see those old photos, isn't it? Although I don't think Archie changed all that much from high school).Sean Miller water bottle

**** I got Sean to be a judge for the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic slam dunk contest.

****  The first time I saw Sean. I was in high school and attended the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic as a fan in 1978. Sean was in third grade and put on a ballhandling show at halftime - with his Dad running the show. A few years later Sean was on the "Tonight Show" doing a ballhandling show.

**** Ten years after Sean's show, I was helping run the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic and got third-grader Archie to put on a ballhandling show with Baldy Regan's sons - Dan and Sean. Part of the show was Archie shooting at one end. I still remember the crowd going nuts when the tiny Archie canned about five in a row from past the foul line - as a third-grader. I still remember the Regans spinning balls on an umbrella and then opening the umbrella.

The picture below is of Archie and Sean in 1988.


More of I remember when ... 

**** Archie came to a hospital and then the airport for Fabulous 5 group pictures.

**** Sean came to Mount Washington for the Fabulous 5 group photo in 1987.

**** Sean and Darelle  Porter were hanging out at the Dapper Dan Roundball hotel in the late 1980s, trying to recruit Don MacLean, a high school star from California who had Pitt on his final list.

**** Talking to Sean once he was at Pitt and Bob Smizik criticized him in a column after a loss to Georgetown. "I'd like to see what Smizik would do against Georgetown's press," said a perturbed Sean. "Me, too, but I don't think he has any eligibility left," I said.

**** Both Sean and Archie were two-time Fabulous 5 selections.

**** Both Sean and Archie had high school games when they were virtually unstoppable.

**** Sean would've had 2,000 career points if they had the 3-point line in his days at Blackhawk.

**** Talking to Sean, watching Sean and always noticing how he did things in a classy way - even to this day.

**** Talking to Archie, watching Archie and always noticing how he did things in a classy way - even to this day.

Archie Miller 1**** Archie played with Kobe. Yes, THAT Kobe. In 1996, the McDonald's All-American game was in Pittsburgh. Kobe Bryant played for the East team and John Miller was the coach. The team had only nine players for the first practice because Tim Thomas was not there. Archie (pictured) was a junior at Blackhawk then, and John brought him along to make 10. I remember Archie making some 3-pointers in a scrimmage.

**** People would say Archie was too little to play at North Carolina State. He only ended up as one of the best 3-point shooters in school history.

**** Talking once to Jay Bilas and him calling Archie one of the best shooters in the country. 

**** Sean played in the feature game of the 1987 Dapper Dan Roundball. "How did [Mechanicsburg's] Sean Muto make this game?" we wondered to each other.

**** Sean was Xavier's coach and came to the City League championship game to recruit Schenley's DeJuan Blair and D.J. Kennedy.

**** Seeing Sean way out at a Yough game when he was recruiting Ben McCauley.Archie and Wallace

**** Archie was a cover boy for a magazine I published (Pennsylvania Prep) (Picture is of Archie with Perry's Courtney Wallace, who went on to play at Duquesne University)

**** Talking to Sean on a Thursday when he was the coach at Xavier and telling him that I had a son, also named Sean, who would be a freshman at Xavier in the fall and had an interest in being a team manager. "Tell him when he gets here for orientation we'll sit down and talk and he can do whatever he wants." Four days later, Sean Miller took the Arizona job. So, no manager for Sean White. Ha ha.

**** I talked to Sean Miller when he got T.J. McConnell after he left Duquesne. "He's the last piece of the puzzle for what could be a Final Four team." Sean thought T.J. would start from day one. He was right on. We'll see this weekend about the Final Four thing. I say Arizona makes it.

**** And finally, I will always remember how both Sean and Archie were a pleasure to deal with. Oh, the memories.


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Looking back at all of the undefeated teams in state history

Written by Mike White on .

The New Castle boys basketball team became the first WPIAL team in 31 years to win a state championship with an undefeated record. The Red Hurricanes also were the 13th team from the WPIAL overall to go undefeated.

But did you ever wonder how many teams around the state have gone undefeated? Well, we have the list, thanks to our records and also Dave Burman, who is sort of an unofficial Pennsylvania basketball historian and Chester High historian.

New Castle is actually the 32nd team to go undefeated. That may seem like a lot. But remember, the PIAA started staging championships in 1921 and they have had four classifications since 1984. Darby-Colwyn is the only team to go undefeated in back to back years. Here is the list of perfect teams, with a little note or two about some of the teams.

2014 New Castle (“AAAA”) 31-0

2012 Chester (“AAAA”) 32-0  - Had Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who now plays for the University of Arizona.

2006 Elk County Catholic  (“A”) 33-0

2003 Lancaster Catholic   (“AAA”) 35-0

2003 Trinity (District-3) (“AA”) 33-0

1993 Carbondale   (“AA”) 30-0

1990 Girard (“AA”)  32-0 - Had guard Marc Blucas, who went on to play at Wake Forest and then became an actor.

1988 Carlisle  (“AAAA”) 33-0  - Had the legendary Billy Owens (pictured in the state final). If you asked me who was the best high school player I ever saw in person in a "high school" game, not an all-star game, I'd say definitely LeBron James. Next would be BIlly Owens. He was incredible. He stood 6-6 or 6-7 and could play point guard or center. He started on four consecutive state championship teams at Carlisle (that also is an incredible feat) and he was an All-American at Syracuse. He had the unforgettable state championship game in 1988 when he scored 53 points. I still remember him rebounding the ball, making the outlet pass, and beating every Central Catholic player up the court to dunk. I remember him dribbling on his knees at one point. He made 19 of 22 shots from the field and 14 of 16 from the free-throw line and also grabbed 12 rebounds. Owens, Alonzo Mourning and Shawn Kemp were widely regarded as the top three players in the country that season.

1987 York Catholic (“AAA”) 34-0

1984 Williamsport (“AAAA”) 30-0

1983 Northwest Area  (“A”) 33-0

1983 Sto-Rox (“AA”) 31-0 - Coached by Dick Cetrone. Mark Beavers was the star player and he went on to play at Duquesne.

1978 Geibel Catholic  (“A”) 26-0 - Coached by Ken Misiak.

1977  Elk Lake   (“A) 36-0 - Elk Lake's Bob Stevenson, a prolific scorer, scored a state championship record 55 points in that game, making 24 of 34 shots and also pulling down 18 rebounds and handing out 10 assists. He averaged 38 points that season and scored 1,276 points.

1976 FIfth Avenue ("AAA") 15-0 - Due to a teachers strike, Fifth Avenue had some games canceled. That's why this team played only 15 games. It was a legendary City League team, coached by Elmer GUckert and led by Sam Clancy, who went on to star at Pitt. It also had BIll Clarke, David "Puffy" Kennedy and Warner Macklin. Macklin is pictured on the left with Clancy in the middle and Kennedy on the right.

1967 Ambridge ("AAA") 27-0  - Considered one of the best teams in WPIAL history. Check this out. Four Dick DeVenziostarters went to Division I college - and big-time colleges. Dick DeVenzio went to Duke (pictured), Dennic Wuycik to North Carolina and Frank Kaufman to Purdue. The team was coached by DeVenzio's father, Chuck.

1966  Mercer  (“AA”)  28-0 - Coached by legendary John Swogger.

1966 Williamsburg  (“A”)  25-0 

1965 Midland (“AAA”) 28-0 - Another one of the all-time great teams from the WPIAL. One of the few teams in Western Pennsylvania history to have two players go on to the pros. Norm Van Lier played in the NBA and Simmie Hill in the ABA. Team was coached by Hank Kuzma.

1964 Uniontown  (“AAA”) 28-0 - This team had a future NBA player and two future NFL players. The Raiders were featured in our Post-Gazette "legacy series" a few weeks ago. Team was coached by Abe Everhart.

1964 Montrose (“AA”) 26-0

1963 Plymouth-Whitemarsh (“AAA”) 24-0

1963 Darby Colwyn (“AA) 25-0

1962 Darby Colwyn (“AA) 25-0 

1959 Kutztown  (“AA) 29-0

1957 Sharon (“AAA”) 28-0 

1955 Wampum (“AA”) 31-0 - This team crushed most opponents and was coached by legendary Butler Hennon and its star player also was legendary. Don Hennon was Butler's son and was the WPIAL's all-time leading scorer until Valley's Tom Pipkins broke his record in 1993. Hennon averaged 33 points a game and he along with Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell are believed to be the only players in WPIAL history to score 1,000 points in a season.

1952 Avalon (“AA”) 29-0 - Two players both made all-state on this team. Ron Mayer and Dan Tobin. In old newspaper stories they are called "Rompin" Ron Mayer and "Dump-em-in" Dan Tobin.

1949 Aliquippa (“AAA”) 29-0 - Sam Milanovich was perfect in his first year as coach. Mickey Zernich, Jerry Montini, James Frank, Joe Richards and Clarence "Bud" Shaw were the starters on that team.

1929 Hazleton (“AAA”) 21-0

1928 Uniontown  (“AAA”) 31-0

1921 McKeesport (“AAA”) 24-0 


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New Castle fans will invade Hershey ...... Lincoln Park and Seton-LaSalle highlights

Written by Mike White on .

Highlights are below of the Seton-LaSalle girls and Lincoln Park boys winning state championships earlier today. But first ... 

We saw how New Castle basketball fans supported their team in games across the WPIAL this season, packing gyms for the WPIAL playoffs and also home games.

But you have to hand it to these Ne-ca High fans. They will travel also.

Giant Center

A few thousand fans are expected to be in Hershey tomorrow night to watch the undefeated Red Hurricanes play for a state championship against La Salle College High School of Philadelphia. That kind of fan support is practically unheard of these days for a Pennsylvania high school team. Those fans will turn part of the Giant Center into a red and black sea. (The photo is of the Giant Center during tonight's championship doubleheader).

New Castle athletic director Sam Flora said the school sold its allotment of 1,500 tickets in about an-hour-and-a-half Thursday. The Blackhawk girls team also has made it to a PIAA final and will play before New Castle tomorrow. Blackhawk had plenty of tickets left over and Flora said Blackhawk was nice enough to open its ticket office Thursday night and sell tickets to New Castle fans who weren't able to get them at New Castle.

There really is no danger of this game selling out because the Giant Center holds 10,500. Fans can buy tickets at the gate tomorrow. But Flora said he wouldn't be surprised if between 3,000 and 4,000 New Castle fans are in the Giant Center tomorrow.

And how about this: New Castle is taking eight student buses to Hershey and each one holds 55 passengers. So there will be about 400 students going to the game. That is tremendous. 

All these New Castle people, driving more than four hours and 263 miles to back their Red Hurricanes. Really, I haven't seen this much support for a team from the west at the state championships since Meadville in 1987. Meadville's colors are also red and black and they seemingly took up about one-third of Hersheypark Arena to watch their beloved Bulldogs take on Carlisle and superstar Billy Owens. Carlisle won, 48-47.

"I will always remember in 1967 when I played football for New Castle and we played Mt. Lebanon for the WPIAL championship on Thanksgiving Day at Pitt Stadium," said Flora. "I still remember all the yellow buses of New Castle fans coming to the game. It was amazing. There were, like, 8,000 to 9,000 people from New Castle that went to the game on Thanksgiving Day.

"There has always been a saying up here that the train is rolling. What is going on this year basically says the train has never stopped even from 1967. It really is remarkable."

But isn't it great to see? Isn't it wonderful that a bunch of teenagers playing a sport can rally people together in a town that has had some tough times over the past few decades? 


And get this: New Castle's team left school this morning and were escorted out of town by fire engines. 

All of it is just wonderful I say. Unforgettable, too. This run by New Castle - win or lose tomorrow night - and the crazy fans should be remembered for a long time.


Here are highlights from Lincoln Park's 70-66 victory against Math, Civics & Sciences for the Class A boys title earlier today. Maverick Rowan scored 37 points for Lincoln Park . Elijah Minnie had eight points, eight rebounds and nine blocks.

Here are highlights from the Seton-LaSalle girls 58-50 victory against previously undefeated Neumann-Goretti, Seton-LaSalle's Yacine Diop had 10 points, 23 rebounds and six blocked shots. Nicolete Newman scored 17 points and was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:20. Cassidy Walsh added 11 points and 11 rebounds.



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