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New Castle's Richards approaching WPIAL milestone ..... A look at Philly's finest

Written by Mike White on .

New Castle's Anthony Richards is about to shoot his way into some select company.

Richards is a senior guard at New Castle who has meant so much to the team's success the past few seasons. The Anthony Richardsway he plays defense and the way he dives for loose balls, I've said he's as tough as a bad steak. But a big part of his game is also shooting. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say he will go down as one of the best 3-point shooters in WPIAL history.

Richards has been on the varsity since his freshman year and has 294 career 3-pointers. New Castle starts the PIAA playoffs tomorrow. If Richards gets six more 3-pointers, he will become only the fourth player in WPIAL history to have 300 career 3-pointers.

The others are Highlands' Micah Mason, Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell and Chartiers Valley's Mike Colbert. Richards doesn't have a realistic chance to catch Mason, who had 346 from 2008-12, or McConnell, who had 334 from 2006-10. But Richards does have a chance to catch Colbert, who had 302 from 1994-98.

Micah MasonAs for the select company Richards has a chance to keep, Mason (pictured to the left) is now a sophomore at Duquesne University and leads the country in 3-point shooting percentage. McConnell (pictured to the right) plays for one of the top teams in the country (University of Arizona) and has been called one of the top point guards in the country.

Philly's finest

Philadelphia-area teams are always major players in the PIAA boys basketball playoffs. Here is a look at some Philly teams to watch. Team thumbnails are written by Josh Verlin of cityofbasketballlove.com, a good web site that covers Philadelphia high school and college basketball. 

Contenders

AAAA Chester (1-1)

Record: 22-5 overall, 8-2 Del Val

Recent history: The Clippers are the four-time defending District 1 champions and won it all in both 2011 and 2012 before falling to Lower Merion in the title game last year. A championship this year would be the powerhouse's fifth in the last 10 years and ninth overall.

Key players: Conrad Chambers (Sr., G), Mahir Johnson (Sr., G), Tyrell Sturdivant (Sr., F)

Why they could win it: Up front, Chester has one of the toughest forwards in all of AAAA in Sturdivant. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound power forward can step out and hit the 3 but is devastating in the low post; he had 17 points and 18 rebounds in the District 1 title game. He and Mahir Johnson, the team's leading scorer at over 19 ppg, transferred back home from Glasgow (Del.) in the offseason, and if they're on top of their game there's no better inside-out duo in AAAA. An athletic squad behind them features several tough role players and a lot of length around the court--it is Chester, after all.

AAAA: Martin Luther King (12-2)

Record: 22-5 overall, 7-3 Public League

Recent history: The Cougars have taken quite a leap under second-year head coach Sean Colson, going from the 'C' Division of the Public League last year to winning its first-ever Pub title this season. Now, they have their sights set on another first: a state title.

Key players: Greg Bennett (Sr., G/F), Sam Foreman (Jr., G), Jahmir Taylor (Sr., F)

Why they could win it: Despite bringing in a number of transfers this year, King has developed solid chemistry thanks in large part to a coach that understands how to relate to his players and get the most out of them. Foreman, who was known as a ball hog early in his career, has really improved his passing skills and become a dangerous scoring guard, while Taylor, at 6-8 and 210 pounds, brings some size up front. They still rely on a lot of youth, including a trio of sophomores in Jabri McCall, Xzavier Malone and Rasool Samir, but Colson has had this bunch playing well all season.

AAAA: Pennsbury (1-2)

Record: 22-5 overall, 12-2 Suburban One

Recent history: The Falcons have been successful at qualifying for the District 1 Class AAAA Playoffs; however, states has been a different story. Pennsbury last qualified for the State Tournament in 2009-2010. Former Sixer and current Indiana Pacer Lavoy Allen led the Falcons to State berths in 2006 and 2007, while current Temple Owl Dalton Pepper took the reigns for the next two years.

Key players: Mekhi Bryant (Jr., G), Cameron Jones (Jr., G), Derrick Woods (Jr., F)

Why they could win it: Pennsbury is a very reliable, balanced and consistent basketball team. They're highlighted by 6-foot-8 forward Derrick Woods, recently offered by Binghamton, who is capable of putting up a double-double on any given night. The dynamic duo of Mekhi Bryant and Cameron Jones give the Falcons a lethal force on the wings - specifically the perimeter. The junior trio would not be what it is without their senior point guard Steve Ciotti, a true court general who glues everything together. This may be new territory for these Falcons, however, Pennsbury has not shied away from the light thus far in postseason play.

AAAA: Roman Catholic (12-1)

Record: 22-4 overall, 13-0 Catholic League

Recent history: The Cahillites' performance in the PIAAs hasn't been stellar, including a first-round loss to District 1 ninth seed Norristown last year. But they did go on an undefeated tear through the toughest league the state this year before falling to Neumann in the PCL final at the Palestra.

Key players: Shep Garner (Sr., G), Rashann London (Sr., G), Manny Taylor (Jr., F)

Why they could win it: Guards win basketball games at this level, and the Cahillites have a very good trio of them. Garner (Penn State) and London (Drexel) are both 1,000-point scorers and easily capable of dropping 20 on any occasion, and sophomore point guard Tony Carr might be better than both of them by the time he finishes his high school career. They need starting forward TreVaughn Wilkerson, who's missed the last few games with a foot injury, to get healthy--especially if they want to beat physical teams like Chester and King.

AAA: Archbishop Carroll (12-3)

Record: 21-4 overall, 11-2 Catholic League

Recent history: Paul Romanczuk led his team to the state finals last year--and though a few key pieces are gone, this is a group that knows what it takes to get there. They're waiting for a major title to solidify their place as one of the state's elite programs.

Key players: Ernest Aflakpui (Jr., F/C), Derrick Jones (Jr., F), Austin Tilghman (Sr., G)

Why they could win it: There's no deeper team in the class, as Paul Romanczuk usually goes five or six players into his bench--the Patriots have had more than 14 players score in a game twice this season! Jones, a freakish athlete at 6-7, has offers from the likes of Kentucky, Arizona and Syracuse, while Aflakpui, a 6-9 native of Ghana with numerous high-major offers, is perhaps the most improved player in the area. They have their flaws for sure, but when they can get out in transition, Carroll is the Dunk City of Pennsylvania.

AAA: Imhotep Charter (12-4)

Record: 20-6 overall, 8-2 Public League

Recent history: Andre Noble has the current longest winning streak in the PIAA Playoffs, with three consecutive championships--last year in their current classification as well as the 2011 and 2011 Class AA titles. Brandon Austin (Oregon) is gone, so the Panthers have gone with a lead-by-committee approach.

Key players: Jakwan Jones (Sr., G), Sean Lloyd (Jr., G/F), Basil Thompson (Sr., F)

Why they could win it: There's no star on this team, with Noble going nine-deep with players who could all contribute on the offensive end. They're not the most skilled team but they're certainly tough, with players like Thompson (a St. Francis (Pa.) commit) and Lloyd, a Division I recruit, fitting right into the Panther mold. Four members of the rotation sat out the 3-4 seeding matchup with Carroll, so they need to get healthy quick if they're going to make a run.

AAA: Neumann-Goretti (12-1)

Record: 22-4 overall, 12-1 Catholic League

Recent history: The most dominant team in Catholic League history, the Saints won three consecutive PIAA Class AAA titles from 2010-12 before losing to Donegal in the quarterfinals last season. The six-time defending PCL and District 12 champions know how to win playoff games.

Key players: Troy Harper (Sr., G), Ja'Quan Newton (Sr., G), Tony Toplyn (Sr., F)

Why they could win it: When you need a bucket, there's no better player to turn to than Ja'Quan Newton, who's headed to Miami (Fl.) next year after leaving as the most impressive in a line of Division I guards to come out of the South Philly institution. The 1800-point scorer has got plenty of D-I talent around him, including Campbell-bound duo Harper and Toplyn, plus junior point guard Lamarr Kimble, a CAA/A-10 recruit with several offers. And if you didn't notice above, this senior class has done a lot of winning in their years at the school.

AA: Constitution (12-1)

Record: 23-5 overall, 8-2 Public League

Recent history: The 2012 PIAA Class A champions moved up to AA last year but found the road a little tougher, losing to Division 2 top seed Holy Cross in the quarterfinals. Rob Moore didn't have any seniors on that team, and now his juniors--freshmen the last time the Generals won it all--are ready to lead their own run.

Key players: Ahmad Gilbert (Jr., G/F), Raheem Liggins (Sr., F), Kimar Williams (Jr., G)

Why they could win it: Despite all the transfers in the Philadelphia region last offseason, Constitution's roster remained nearly unchanged thanks to a lack of a senior class and no real roster needs. Williams, a quick 5-11 slasher, has become a bona-fide Division I prospect in his junior year, while Gilbert, a 6-6 wing with good range, has solidified his standing as a mid-major-plus recruit. They've got some size with the 6-5 Liggins, 6-6 Chad Andrews and Gilbert, but their strength is pressure defense and using turnovers to create mismatches on the offensive end.

A: Math, Civics & Sciences (12-1)

Record: 11-14 overall, 4-6 Public League

Recent history: The 2011 PIAA Class A champions have quickly become a state powerhouse, considering the whole program is not yet 10 years old. Last year they were bounced in the semifinals by eventual champion Rysheed Jordan and now-closed Vaux HS.

Key players: Samir Doughty (Jr., G), Louis Myers (Sr., G), Mike Watkins (Sr., F/C)

Why they could win it: It's been a rough year for the Mighty Elephants, but they still have more raw talent than anybody else in the classification--if they can put it all together. Watkins, a Penn State commit, is an athletic monster in the frontcourt, and Doughty (offers from Temple, Rhode Island, La Salle, SJU and more) leads a number of capable scorers in the backcourt. Head coach Dan Jackson has to hope a disappointing regular season leads to an inspired postseason.

Dark Horses

AAAA: Abington (1-6)

Record: 22-5 overall, 14-0 Suburban One

Recent history: Last year, the Galloping Ghosts were the third seed in District 1 but wound up with a tough draw against St. Joseph's Prep in the first round and didn't advance.

Key players: Amir Hinton (Jr., G/F), Anthony Lee (Sr., F), Matt Penecale (Jr., G)

Why they could win it: It was known that head coach Charles Grasty had one potential Division I recruit in Penecale, but Hinton has emerged this season right alongside him; they're both athletic and bouncy and can shoot it quite well. There are solid pieces around them, including Lee, stretch-forward Lazaros Mackrides, Jordan Neely and more. A pair of regular-season wins over Pennsbury proves they can play with the top teams in one of the toughest districts in the state.

AAAA: Conestoga (1-3)

Record: 24-5 overall, 16-3 Central League

Recent history: Conestoga has not qualified for the state playoffs since the 2008-2009 season, where it went 29-4 and fell in the second round. Last year's Pioneers, dropping nine games by 15 points combined, failed to earn a spot in Districts. In 2011 and 2011, Conestoga fell in the first round of the District playoffs. Experience is scarce, however that only adds to the motivation of this year's edition of Conestoga.

Key players: Zack Yonda (Sr., G), Andrew Diehl (Jr., G/F), Martin Dorsey (Jr., F)

Why they could win it: This year's Pioneers are known for their smart and tough playing style. 'Stoga is not the most athletic team in the field, however their size and depth are what got them here - and they'll continue to ride the wave of that. Senior guard Zack Yonda, Swarthmore College bound, is the man behind it all and one of the purest scorers you will find in Pennsylvania. 6-foot-4 Andrew Diehl and 6-foot-3 forwards Martin Dorsey and Dan Vila are the men in the middle.

AAA: La Salle College HS (12-3)

Record: 19-6 overall, 9-4 Catholic League

Recent history: Despite seven seniors on last year's squad, including current D-I players Steve Smith (Fairfield) and Amar Stukes (La Salle), the Explorers fell just short of a berth in the state tournament. But this current group is playing without any such expectations in the school's first trip to the PIAAs since 2011.

Key players: David Krmpotich (Jr., F), Najee Walls (Jr., G), Shawn Witherspoon (Jr., G)

Why they could win it: Despite a large percentage of the minutes (and scoring) coming from a junior class that only saw spot minutes last year, the Explorers came in fifth in the Catholic League. Krmpotich is a long and lanky 6-7 forward with Division I interest, while Walls and Witherspoon are the primary ballhandlers. They'll need players like senior guard Sean Greenberg and sophomore wing Chuck Champion to knock down shots if they're going to advance.

 

 

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Ineligible player knocks team out of PIAA playoffs ...... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

The Kennedy Catholic High School boys basketball team has been a regular participant in the PIAA playoffs. This year's team qualified again, but was knocked out before ever playing a game.

Kennedy Catholic, located near Sharon, was disqualified for the playoffs for using an ineligible player in last Friday's District 10 Class A consolation game. Kennedy Catholic defeated Eisenhower, 66-62, in double overtime.

On Monday, Kennedy Catholic informed the PIAA that it had used an academically ineligible player in the game. PIAA rules clearly state that a team must forfeit any game that an ineligible player is used. Thus, Eisenhower gets to go to the WPIAL playoffs and not Kennedy Catholic.

This was not a great Kennedy Catholic squad. The team was 14-9 before the forfeit. But you can bet the players still wanted to compete in the PIAA playoffs. Eisenhower plays Ridgway in a first-round game Friday.

Why them again?

It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense when you look at the PIAA Class AAAA boys bracket and see New Castle playing Bethel Park again. This is the same team that New Castle beat in the WPIAL quarterfinals on the way to a WPIAL title. So Bethel Park plays two games in a row against the same team. Why?

Well, look at the Class AAAA bracket and it does make a little sense. From the west, five WPIAL teams qualify, the District 6 champ, the District 9-10 champ and the City League champ. It wouldn't seem right if the WPIAL champ had to play another district champ in the first round, would it? Well, besides the WPIAL teams, that's all that left from the west. And doesn't it seem right that the WPIAL champ play the lowest seeded team? Well, that's the No. 5 team from the WPIAL.

Of course, if the WPIAL had "playbacks" for the No. 5 spot, all the quarterfinal losers would play for the No. 5 spot. But that's not going to happen. The WPIAL uses the "follow-the-leader" system, where the team that loses in the quarterfinals to the WPIAL champ automatically gets the No. 5 seed.

Now here is something that makes you scratch your head about the PIAA playoffs. In Class AAAA girls, the same amount of teams qualify from the west as the boys. However, in the girls bracket, the WPIAL champ plays the No. 4 team from the WPIAL, and the No. 5 team from the WPIAL plays the District 6 champ.

Go figure.

Oh, brother

There are two brothers coaching teams in the Class AAAA boys playoffs. Ben O'Connor is the coach at Bethel Park Kevin O'Connorwhile his younger brother, Kevin, is the coach of McDowell, which won the District 10 championship and then the District 9-10 regional. (Kevin is pictured)

Could the brothers meet in a PIAA game? Well, let's just say that Bethel Park would have to beat New Castle and then ... well, let's just stop there. Don't count on an O'Connor bowl. Ben has done a great job at Bethel Park, but beating New Castle?

Name that school

It's always interesting at this time of year to look at the schools that qualify for the PIAA playoffs from Philadelphia and see the number of relatively new charter schools that qualify for the playoffs or names of other schools that you never remember seeing before.

And get this: The No. 1 Class A girls team from District 12 (Philadelphia) is actually called Parkway West. Seriously. The school used to be called Parkway Gamma. At Parkway West, supposedly you don't want to go in this school around 8 in the morning or 5 at night. Students apparently are all bunched together in the hallways and no one moves.

Some other names of schools in the PIAA playoffs that you don't see often in other PIAA playoffs: Sankofa Freedom, which opened in 2009, qualified in Class A boys while Palumbo (opened in 2006) qualified in Class AA. New Media Charter (opened in 2004) qualified in Class A boys.

Mastery North Charter (Class AAA girls) is a charter school at the old Simon Gratz public school.

Philadelphia Electrical (Class AAA boys) opened in 2002.

It might get to the point where it will be rare to see a public school make it to the Class A or AA finals.

Ones to watch

Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia is one of the top Class AAA boys teams in the state once again and the No. 1 team from District 12. Neumann-Goretti features a player who has a four-star rating in Rivals.com

Ja'Quan Newton is a 6-foot-3 guard who averages 21.7 points a game. He already has signed with Miami (Fla.). (Newton is pictured. Photo from Philadelphia Inquirer).

Neumann-Goretti won the PIAA title three consecutive years from 2010-12.

Roman Catholic is the No. 1 Class AAAA team from Philadelphia and has two Division I recruits. Shep Garner has signed with Penn State and Rashawn London with Drexel. Both are 6-2 guards.

Earlier this time

The Lincoln Park boys team was stopped one game short of the PIAA Class A title game last year when it lost to Johnsonburg, 59-53, in the semifinals. Lincoln Park will get a chance for revenge, only earlier in the tournament this year.

Lincoln Park meets Johnsonburg in a first-round game Friday at North Hills.

Actually, Lincoln Park already got a measure of revenge against Johnsonburg earlier this year when Lincoln Park traveled to Johnsonburg for a Dec. 17 game and won, 77-59. It makes you believe that Lincoln Park should roll in this PIAA game. But Johnsonburg does have two players averaging 21 points a game in Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson. They both have scored more than 1,000 points.

Johnsonburg is 21-4 and the No. 3 team from District 9.

 

 

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State basketball rankings ..... Just win the gold, baby

Written by Mike White on .

The latest state rankings for Pennsylvania boys basketball came out today from Pennlive.com and the Harrisburg Patriot News.

But before we get to those, first a priceless picture. The WPIAL gives out gold medals to coaches and players that win championships. Central Valley boys basketball coach Brandon Ambrose got his first gold Friday night when Central Valley defeated Chartiers Valley in double overtime in the Class AAA final.

Those medals mean a lot to some, and there's no doubt this one meant a lot to Ambrose. He took it home with him. When he got up Saturday morning and went downstairs, this was waiting for him:

Michael Ambrose

It's Ambrose's 8-month-old son, Michael, with the gold medal draped around his neck. Hey, maybe he wanted to know what it felt like to be a gold medalist. Great picture, huh? After Brandon sent it to me, I thought it was one worth sharing.

State rankings

Now for the state rankings from Mike Bullock of Pennlive.com.

 

CLASS AAAA

 

No.  School                                           Rec    Pvs

1.     Roman Catholic (12)                   22-4        1

2.     New Castle (7)                             26-0        2

3.     Martin Luther King (12)             23-5        3                           

4.     Hampton (7)                                22-4        4

5 .    Chester (1)                                   22-5        6

6.     North Allegheny (7)                    21-4        5

7   .  Pennsbury (1)                             22-5      10                                   

8.     Conestoga (1)                              24-5        7

9.     Lower Merion (1)                       21-7        8

10.  Abington (1)                                22-5        9

Others to watch: Allderdice (8) 19-5, Bethel Park (7) 18-6, Carlisle (3) 18-8, Cedar Crest (3) 25-5, Central Bucks West (1) 15-12, Central York (3) 24-4, Cumberland Valley (3) 19-7, Emmaus (11) 18-8, Great Valley* (1) 22-3, Harrisburg* (3) 17-7, Hazleton (2) 21-4, Hershey (3) 18-8, Kiski Area (7) 17-6, LaSalle College (12) 19-6, McDowell (10) 22-3, Obama Academy* (8) 22-1, Oxford (1) 22-7, Parkland (11) 21-5, Spring-Ford (1) 24-4, St. Joseph’s Prep* (12) 16-7, Stroudsburg (11) 16-11, West Chester Rustin (1) 17-10, Wilson (3) 26-3, York (3) 22-6.

*-season complete

CLASS AAA

 

No.  School                                             Rec     Pvs

1.     Neumann-Goretti (12)                 22-4         1

2.     Archbishop Carroll  (12)             21-4         2

3.     Allentown Central Cath (11)       27-0         3

4.     Abington Heights (2)                    25-1         6

5.     Central Valley (7)                         22-3         7

6.     Chartiers Valley (7)                     24-2         4

7.     Imhotep Charter (12)                  20-6         5

8.     Susquehanna Twp. (3)                19-7      NR

9.     Bishop McDevitt (3)                     26-2         8

10.   Uniontown (7)                              21-2       10

Others to watch: Berks Catholic (3) 24-5, Bermudian Springs (3) 22-4, Blue Mountain (11) 21-6, Elizabeth Forward* (7) 20-4, Erie East (10) 20-5, Farrell (10) 22-3, GAR Memorial (2) 20-6, Holy Ghost Prep (1) 22-6, Lancaster Mennonite (3) 20-7, Manheim Central (3) 24-4, Mars (7) 15-9, Montour (7) 16-8, Philly Electrical (12) 16-11, Pittston (2) 18-8, Pottsville (11) 23-5, Scranton Prep* (2) 21-3, Shamokin (4) 22-3, Strong Vincent (10) 17-8, Thomas Jefferson (7) 22-3, West York (3) 24-4.

*-season complete

CLASS AA

 

No.  School                                                  Rec    Pvs

1.     Constitution (12)                                23-5       1

2.     Seton-La Salle (7)                               25-1       2

3.     Greensburg Central Cath (7)            22-3       3

4.     Lewisburg (4)                                     23-3       5

5.     Loyalsock (4)                                      24-3       4

6.     Aliquippa (7)                                      18-6       6

7.     West Middlesex (10)                         20-5     10

8.     Fairview (10)                                      22-3       9

9.     Meyers (2)                                          19-7    NR

10.  Holy Cross (2)                                      20-6       8                                        

Others to watch: Bald Eagle Area (6) 20-5, Beaver Falls (7) 18-7, Bristol (1) 16-9, Central Martinsburg (6) 17-8, Columbia (3) 16-9, Conemaugh Twp (5) 21-5, Del-Val Charter (12) 17-7, Elk Lake* (2) 21-2, Hanover (3) 19-7, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 18-7, Mid Valley (2) 22-4, Neshannock (7) 18-6, Notre Dame-Green Pond (11) 17-9, Penns Valley (6) 19-6, Quaker Valley (7) 21-3, Richland (6) 20-5, Summit Academy (7) 16-6, Towanda (4) 23-4, Trinity (3) 12-12.

*-season complete

CLASS A

 

No.  School                                                   Rec    Pvs

1.     Lincoln Park (7)                                   25-1       1

2.     Math, Civics & Sciences (12)               11-14     2

3.     Bishop Carroll (6)                                25-0       3

4.     St. John Neumann (4)                          27-0       4

5.     Church Farm (1)                                  23-4       8

6.     Mahanoy Area (11)                              24-2    10

7.     Monessen (7)                                        20-6       7                                   

8.     Vincentian (7)                                       22-3       6

9.     Elk County Catholic (9)                        23-4        9

10.   Johnsonburg (9)                                   23-4        5

Others to watch: Berlin Brothersvalley (5) 23-2, Bishop Guilfoyle (6) 19-6, Clarion-Limestone (9) 22-4, Cochranton (10) 21-3, Erie First Christian (10) 15-9, Forbes Road (5) 16-8, Galeton (4) 20-5, Greenwood (3) 18-7, Homer-Center (6) 22-3, Kennedy Catholic (10) 14-9, Lebanon Catholic (3) 17-8, Mount Calvary (3) 22-4, New Hope Academy (3) 14-9, North Catholic (7) 15-10, Phil-Mont Christian (1) 19-5, Pius X (11) 19-4, Ridgway (9) 20-6, Sullivan County (4) 19-6.

 

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Twinsanity plus ..... WPIAL finals rewind

Written by Mike White on .

A brief look back at the WPIAL basketball championships and a look ahead to the PIAA tournament 

You think it was unusual to see the Allderdice boys basketball team play this year with three sets of twins? Well, let's add some more to this Twinsanity. 

Just call it Twinsanity II.

Allderdice won the City League basketball championship to qualify for the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. The Dragons play in the first round Saturday against Hampton. And Hampton has the two most well-known twins in Pittsburgh area high school basketball in Collin and Ryan Luther.

This didn't even hit me until Allderdice coach Buddy Valinsky pointed it out this morning. Hampton plays Allderdice Saturday at 3 at Obama in East Liberty. Just about everywhere you look on that court you'll be seeing double.

The Allderdice twins are pictured above. They are Kenny and Keith Robinson, TIm and James Jackson and DaVaughn and JaVaughn Moultrie.

It should be an interesting game. Allderdice will be at a big size disadvantage, but I think the Dragons might give Hampton a game. It's not easy to come back after the WPIAL loss, although Hampton is experience at it. This is the third year in a row that Hampton lost in the WPIAL title game and will play a City League team in the first round.

PIAA brackets

The schedule for all first-round PIAA games is at the bottom of the blog. Games are Friday and Saturday.

MVPs, all-tourney teams

The WPIAL doesn't pick an MVP or all-tourney team from the WPIAL championships. So I will. This is solely from the championship games.

BOYSElijah Minnie

MVP - Elijah Minnie, Lincoln Park (pictured). I know, I know he's 6-8 and 7-8 inches bigger than every Monessen player. But still, a triple double in a title game is rather impressive no matter who it is against. He had 20 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks. I will always remember one of those blocks ending up in the third row of seats.

ALL-TOURNEY - Maverick Rowan, Lincoln Park; Jacob St. George, Central Valley; Mike Sims, Central Valley; Jerrad Tuite, Chartiers Valley; Matty McConnell, Chartiers Valley; Dale Clancy, Seton-LaSalle; Levi Masua, Seton-LaSalle (for his defense); Billy Hipp, Greensburg Central Catholic; Stew Allen, New Castle; Drew Allen, New Castle; Malik Hooker, New Castle (even though he scored only six points he still greatly affected the game).

GIRLS

Brenna WiseMVP - Brenna Wise, Vincentian (pictured). A few others also could have deserved this. But Wise is a do-everything player for Vincentian. She has been strong on the inside since her freshman year, but she has added an outside game, evidenced by her three 3-pointers in the Class A final. She finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds. 

ALL-TOURNEY - Yacine Diop, Seton-LaSalle; Shaunay Edmonds, Seton-LaSalle; Sydney Bordonaro, Burrell; Allison McGrath, South Park; Chassidy Omogrosso, Blackhawk; Bridgette Shaffer, Blackhawk, Halle Denman, Blackhawk; Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford; Monica Burns, Hempfield.

Ben watches

I don't remember a WPIAL title game that created such ticket demand as the New Castle-Hampton game. The contest was sold out. It even brought out Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (wonder if he had a ticket?). Pitt coach Jamie Dixon came straight from his team's game at Notre Dame. Dixon and Roethlisberger sat next to each other on the floor under one of the baskets.

ben jamie 1 450x302

Boy-girl talk

Seton-LaSalle became the 13th school in WPIAL history to sweep the boys and girls championships. Here is a list of the others:

1985 – Beaver Falls
1987 – Penn Hills
1987 - Aliquippa
1988 – Aliquippa
1996 – Blackhawk
1996 – Upper St. Clair
1999 – Blackhawk
2000 – Blackhawk
2005 – Moon
2009 – North Catholic
2010 – Mt. Lebanon
2013 – Vincentian

PIAA schedule

Here is the schedule for PIAA first-round games.

BOYS 
PIAA CLASS AAAA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Saturday — York William Penn (22-6) vs. Haverford (15-10) at Dallastown Area, 6:30 p.m.; Emmaus (18-8) vs. Abington (22-5) at Parkland, 7:30 p.m.; Pennsbury (22-5) vs. West Lawn Wilson (26-3) at Concil Rock South, 4:30 p.m.; Martin Luther King (23-5) vs. Cumberland Valley (19-7) at South Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m.; New Castle (26-0) vs. Bethel Park (18-6) at Chartiers Valley, 3 p.m.; Altoona (13-9) vs. North Allegheny (21-4) at Hollidaysburg, 5:30 p.m.; Allderdice (19-5) vs. Hampton (22-4) at Obama Academy, 3 p.m.; McDowell (22-3) vs. Kiski Area (17-6) at General McLane, 4 p.m.
Eastern Region
Saturday — Chester (22-5) vs. Carlisle (18-8) at Coatesville, 4:30 p.m.; Hazleton (21-4) vs. Stroudsburg (16-11) at Berwick, 5 p.m.; West Chester Rustin (17-10) vs. Central York (24-4) at Coatesville, 3 p.m.; Parkland (21-5) vs. Central Bucks West (15-12) at Freedom, 7:30 p.m.; Roman Catholic (22-4) vs. Oxford (21-6) at Archbishop Carroll, 3:30 p.m.; Hershey (18-8) vs. Lower Merion (19-7) at Milton Hershey, 5 p.m.; Conestoga (23-4) vs. La Salle College (19-6) at Spring-Ford, 3 p.m.; Cedar Crest (25-5) vs. Spring-Ford (22-4) at Milton Hershey, 6:30 p.m.
PIAA CLASS AAA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Friday — Susquehanna Township (19-7) vs. Imhotep Charter (20-6) at Central Dauphin East, 8 p.m.; Pottsville (23-5) vs. Lower Moreland (16-8) at Blue Mountain, 7 p.m.; Somerset (16-8) vs. Lancaster Mennonite (20-7) at Richland, 6 p.m.; Chartiers Valley (24-2) vs. Erie Strong Vincent (17-8) at Baldwin, 7:30 p.m.; Central Valley (22-3) vs. Mars (15-9) at Moon, 7:30 p.m.; Erie East (20-5) vs. Thomas Jefferson (22-3) at Mercyhurst Univ., 7:30 p.m.; Punxsutawney (14-9) vs. Uniontown (21-2) at DuBois, 7 p.m.; Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8) at Sharon, 7:30 p.m..
Eastern Region
Friday — Neumann-Goretti (22-4) vs. Berks Catholic (24-5) at Archbishop Ryan, 7:30 p.m.; Shamokin (22-3) vs. Wilkes-Barre GAR (20-6) at Shikellamy Fieldhouse, 7:30 p.m.; Pittston Area (18-8) vs. Bishop McDevitt (26-2) at Wyoming Area, 6 p.m.; Allentown Central Catholic (27-0) vs. West York (24-4) at Allen, 7:30 p.m.; Abington Heights (25-1)vs. Central Columbia (18-7) at Lackawanna College, 7:30 p.m.; Manheim Central (24-4) vs. Archbishop Carroll (21-4) at Garden Spot, 8 p.m.; Philadelphia Electrical (16-11)vs. Blue Mountain (21-6) at Archbishop Carroll, 7:30 p.m.; Holy Ghost Prep (20-5) vs. Bermudian Springs (22-4) at Cheltenham, 8 p.m..
PIAA CLASS AA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Saturday — Seton-LaSalle (25-1) vs. Penns Valley (19-6) at Penn Hills, 5:30 p.m.; Brookville (11-14) vs. Mercyhurst Prep (18-7) at Clarion Univ., 7 p.m.; Richland (20-5) vs. Quaker Valley (21-3) at Central Cambria, 5:30 p.m.; Fairview (22-3) vs. Aliquippa (18-6) at General McLane, 6 p.m.; Conemaugh Township (21-5) vs. Summit Academy (16-6) at Univ. of Pitt-Johnstown, 7 p.m.; Martinsburg Central (16-6) vs. Beaver Falls (18-7) at Altoona Fieldhouse, 5:30 p.m; Greensburg Central Catholic (22-3) vs. Bald Eagle Area (20-5) at Hempfield, 5:30 p.m.; West Middlesex (20-5) vs. Neshannock (18-6) at Slippery Rock Univ., 7 p.m..
Eastern Region
Saturday — Constitution (23-5) vs. Columbia (16-9) at South Philadelphia, 5 p.m.; Lewisburg (23-3) vs. Mid Valley (22-4) at Shikellamy Fieldhouse, 7:30 p.m.; Bristol (16-8) vs. High School of the Future (21-3) at Concil Rock South, 3 p.m.; Holy Cross (20-6) vs. Hanover (19-7) at Scranton, 6 p.m.; Wilkes-Barre Meyers (19-7) vs. Towanda (22-3) at Wilkes Univ., 6 p.m.; West Catholic (11-13) vs. Palumbo (17-6) at Philadelphia Univ., 5 p.m.; Camp Hill Trinity (12-12) vs. Loyalsock (24-3) at Central Dauphin East, 7:30 p.m.; Notre Dame-Green Pond (17-9) vs. Del-Val Charter (17-7) at Parkland, 6 p.m.
PIAA CLASS A
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Friday — Lincoln Park (25-1) vs. Johnsonburg (21-4) at North Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Bishop Guilfoyle (19-6) vs. Forbes Road (16-8) at Allen Fieldhouse, 8 p.m.; Elk County Catholic (22-3) vs. Homer-Center (22-3) at Clarion Univ., 6 p.m.; Cochranton (21-3) vs. Vincentian (22-3) at Meadville, 7:30 p.m.; Bishop Carroll (25-0) vs. Clarion-Limestone (21-4) at Richland, 7:30 p.m.; Monessen (20-6) vs. Erie First Christian (15-9) at Chartiers Valley, 7:30 p.m.; Berlin Brothersvalley (23-2) vs. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (15-10) at Univ. of Pitt-Johnstown, 7:30 p.m.; Ridgway (20-5) vs. Kennedy Catholic (14-9) at Clarion Univ., 7:30 p.m..
Eastern Region
Friday — New Hope Academy (14-9) vs. Sankofa Freedom (9-16) at Dallastown, 7:30 p.m.; Old Forge (11-12) vs. Pius X (19-4) at Wyoming Area, 7:30 p.m.; New Media Charter (14-5) vs. Phil-Mont Christian (16-10) at Archbishop Carroll, 6 p.m.; St. John Neumann (27-0) vs. Greenwood (18-7) at Williamsport, 7 p.m.; Church Farm (23-4) vs. Lebanon Catholic (17-8) at Cheltenham, 5 p.m.; Mahanoy Area (24-2) vs. Galeton (20-5) at Martz Hall, 7:30 p.m.; Mount Calvary (22-4) vs. Sullivan County (19-6) at Central Dauphin East, 6:30 p.m.; Math, Civics & Sciences (11-14) vs. Delco Christian (9-16) at South Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m..

GIRLS

PIAA CLASS AAAA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Friday — West Lawn Wilson (22-7) vs. Methacton (19-8) at Garden Spot, 6 p.m.; Pocono Mountain West vs. Abington (19-8) at Stroudsburg, 7 p.m.; Spring-Ford (22-5) vs. Red Lion (17-8) at Coatesville, 7:30 p.m.; Philadelphia Northeast (17-5) vs. Mechanicsburg (22-6) at Archbishop Ryan, 6 p.m.; Penn-Trafford (20-6) vs. North Allegheny (22-2) at Baldwin, 6 p.m; State College (17-7) vs. Mt. Lebanon (16-6) at Altoona Fieldhouse, 6:30 p.m.; Obama Academy (14-6) vs. Hempfield (17-9) at Allderdice, 7 p.m.; McDowell (15-7) vs. Fox Chapel (19-5) at Mercyhurst Univ., 6 p.m..
Eastern Region
Friday — North Penn (24-3) vs. Lebanon (21-7) at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 7:30 p.m.; Wallenpaupack vs. Northampton at North Pocono, 7 p.m.; West Chester Rustin (21-6) vs. Manheim Township (27-2) at Coatesville, 6 p.m.; Parkland vs. Central Bucks East (16-10) at Allen, 6 p.m.; Archbishop Carroll (14-9) vs. Garnet Valley (25-2) at Lansdale Catholic, 7:30 p.m.; Cumberland Valley (23-5) vs. Central Bucks West (20-6) at Central Dauphin East, 5 p.m.; Mount St. Joseph (24-3) vs. Cardinal O'Hara (17-8) at Cheltenham, 6:30 p.m.; Dover (24-3) vs. Bishop Shanahan (21-6) at South Western, 7:30 p.m.
PIAA CLASS AAA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Saturday — Susquehannock (23-5) vs. Palmyra (22-4) at Dallastown, 5 p.m.; Mastery North Charter (15-9) vs. Merion Mercy (15-11) at Philadelphia Univ., 3:30 p.m.; Huntingdon (20-5) vs. Mount Pleasant (15-9) at Hollidaysburg, 4 p.m.; Bradford (21-2) vs. Elizabeth Forward (20-4) at Univ. of Pitt-Bradford, 5 p.m.; Blackhawk (23-2) vs. Mercyhurst Prep (19-6) at Moon, 4 p.m.; West Mifflin (18-6) vs. Villa Maria (21-3) at Penn Hills, 4 p.m.; South Park (21-5) vs. Trinity (17-7) at Moon, 5:30 p.m.; Hickory (25-0) vs. Johnstown (11-14) at Slippery Rock Univ., 5:30 p.m.
Eastern Region
Saturday — Archbishop Wood (21-3) vs. Berks Catholic (19-7) at Archbishop Carroll, 5 p.m.; Malvern Villa Maria (15-10) vs. Lancaster Catholic (25-3) at Spring-Ford, 4:30 p.m.; Bethlehem Catholic vs. Bonner-Prendergast (19-6) at Freedom, 6 p.m.; Scranton Prep vs. Danville (21-4) at Marywood Univ., 7:30 p.m.; West Perry (21-5) vs. Freire Charter (13-12) at Northern York, 7:30 p.m.; Abington Heights vs. Allentown Central Catholic at Marywood Univ., 6 p.m.; Mifflinburg (20-5) vs. Holy Redeemer at Shikellamy Fieldhouse, 6 p.m.; Radnor (14-12) vs. Fleetwood (23-5) at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 3 p.m.
PIAA CLASS AA
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Friday — Seton-LaSalle (22-4) vs. Blairsville (23-2) at Chartiers Valley, 6 p.m.; Mercer (18-6) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (19-5) at Sharon, 6 p.m.; Bishop Canevin (19-6) vs. Juniata (23-3) at Moon, 6 p.m.; Karns City (23-1) vs. Girard (19-6) at Clarion H.S., 7 p.m.; Bellwood-Antis (23-3) vs. McGuffey (20-4) at Altoona Fieldhouse, 5 p.m.; Burrell (25-1) vs. Clarion-Limestone (16-9) at North Hills, 6 p.m.; Tussey Mountain (23-1) vs. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (16-8) at Univ. of Pitt-Johnstown, 6 p.m.; General McLane (22-3) vs. Neshannock (22-2) at Meadville, 6 p.m.
Eastern Region
Friday — Neumann-Goretti (25-0) vs. Camp Hill (18-7) at South Philadelphia, 6 p.m.; Minersville vs. Central Columbia (15-10) at Martz Hall, 6 p.m.; Delone Catholic (20-5) vs. Holy Cross at South Western, 6 p.m.; St. Basil (21-5) vs. Benjamin Franklin (12-3) at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 6 p.m.; York Catholic (23-4) vs. Philadelphia Academy (11-5) at Dallastown Area, 6 p.m.; Dunmore vs. Warrior Run (21-6) at Lackawanna College, 6 p.m.; Imhotep Charter (22-3) vs. Salisbury at Lansdale Catholic, 6 p.m.; Mount Carmel (23-4) vs. Montrose at Shikellamy Fieldhouse, 6 p.m.
PIAA CLASS A
FIRST ROUND
Western Region
Saturday — Vincentian (22-3) vs. Port Allegany (23-1) at Chartiers Valley, 5 p.m.; Portage vs. Berlin Brothersvalley (21-4) at Central Cambria, 4 p.m.; Keystone vs. Claysburg-Kimmel at Clarion Univ., 4 p.m.; Kennedy Catholic (21-2) vs. California (19-4) at Slippery Rock Univ., 4 p.m.; Bishop Guilfoyle (20-5) vs. Venango Catholic (19-6) at Altoona Fieldhouse, 4 p.m.; Serra Catholic (23-3) vs. Cochranton (19-5) at Hempfield, 4 p.m.; Southern Fulton (23-3) vs. Quigley Catholic (18-6) at Univ. of Pitt-Johnstown, 5:30 p.m.; Clarion (20-5) vs. Frazier (16-6) at Clarion Univ., 5:30 p.m.
Eastern Region
Saturday — Steelton-Highspire (10-16) vs. St. John Neumann (17-8) at Northern, 6 p.m.; Parkway West vs. Jenkintown (19-7) at Lansdale Catholic, 4 p.m.; Old Forge vs. Harrisburg Christian (25-2) at Scranton, 7:30 p.m.; Marian Catholic vs. Northeast Bradford (20-5) at Martz Hall, 6 p.m.; Millville (24-0) vs. Upper Dauphin (13-12) at Danville Area, 6 p.m.; Phil-Mont Christian (21-4) vs. Shenandoah at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 4:30 p.m.; Halifax (19-6) vs. Math, Civics & Sciences at Central Dauphin East, 6 p.m.; Shade (21-5) vs. Bishop Carroll (11-12) at Univ. of Pitt-Johnstown, 4 p.m..

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Arizona inspires Chartiers Valley ..... "On Demand" for finals ..... WPIAL championship picks

Written by Mike White on .

Chartiers Valley boys basketball coach Tim McConnell doesn't just show his players film of their team or opponents. Chartiers Valley also has watched film of a college team this season.

McConnell has showed his squad game films of the University of Arizona's team and not just because McConnell's son, T.J., is a starting guard for the Wildcats. Tim McConnell hopes his players learn a thing or two about defense from watching Arizona. Tim McConnell is using Arizona for motivation.

Chartiers Valley plays Central Valley for the WPIAL Class AAA title tonight at Duquesne's Palumbo Center. Chartiers Valley doesn't have a starter taller than 6-1.

Arizona"Are we the best basketball players? No. But do we work hard? Absolutely," Tim McConnell said. "I had a college coach tell me he would love to bring his team to watch us play because he thinks we play harder than his team. I had another college coach text me the other night and say he thinks the [Chartiers Valley] Colts and North Carolina play the hardest. 

"I said, 'You're going to put me in the category with North Carolina? I'm taking it.' But I'll tell you what, I want to be in the category with Arizona's defense because I think they play great defense. (above photo of Arizona from Associated Press). We use them as a measuring stick, just watching them play defense, how they hedge screens, how hard they play,  how they play in gaps, how they don't give up easy baskets.

"I'll bring a tape of Arizona [to Chartiers Valley's players] and say 'Look at this. Look how they play. We have to play that way.'"

Chartiers Valley allows 50.2 points a game. But Central Valley knows a thing or two about defense also. Central Valley allows only 48.5 points.

"On Demand" for title games

There will be no live television for the WPIAL championships, but all eight games - boys and girls - will be on Xfinity (Comcast) "On Demand" starting Monday. The games can be found by going to the "Get Local" folder through "On Demand" and then going to "Sports," "HS Basketball," "WPIAL Finals."

Championship picks

Here are my picks for the WPIAL title games. In the semifinals, I was 6-2 in boys selections and 7-1 in girls.

BOYS - New Castle over Hampton ... Central Valley over Chartiers Valley ... Seton-LaSalle over Greensburg Central Catholic ... Lincoln Park over Monessen

GIRLS - Hempfield over Penn-Trafford ... Blackhawk over South Park ... Seton-LaSalle over Burrell ... Vincentian over Serra

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