Lincoln Park's Rowan on torrid scoring pace

Written by Mike White on .

Breakfast table talk after the first night of the WPIAL basketball semifinals

First, don't forget to follow @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter tonight for score updates and notes on all the WPIAL semifinals. If you have a score update or thoughts on a game, tweet @PGVarsityXtra with #wpial

Maverick RowanThe scoring Maverick

Lincoln Park has made it to the Class A championship game and sophomore guard Maverick Rowan could end up with one of the best scoring tournaments in WPIAL history.

Rowan, who already has verbally committed to Pitt, has scored 25, 37 and 35 points in three playoff games for a total of 97. Another game in the 30s will put him among the top playoff scorers of all time.

Only nine players in WPIAL history have scored more than 120 points in a tournament. The all-time leader is Penn Hills' Drew Schifino, who scored 147 in four games in 2000. Next is Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell, who scored 144 in 2010.

Playing his old teammates

The Lincoln Park vs. Monessen game in the Class A championship presents an interesting storyline. Elijah Minnie, Lincoln Park's second-leading scorer, played at Monessen as a freshman.

Minnie then was sent to Summit Academy, a school for adjudicated youth near Butler. He spent his sophomore year at Summit. Rather than go back to Monessen as a junior, he chose to attend Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland. 

Record numbers

Scoring records fell during Monessen's 110-99 victory against Vincentian in last night's semifinals. Anyone who was there should remember that game for a long time.

The 110 points by Monessen broke a 25-year-old WPIAL playoff record for most points. Brentwood scored 109 against Elderton in 1989.

The 209 points combined by both teams smashed the 35-year-old WPIAL playoff record of 188 set in 1979 when Union beat St. Joseph, 99-89.

Section 1 uprising

Section 1 and Westmoreland County, stand up and be proud.

The Hempfield and Penn-Trafford girls teams have both made it to the Class AAAA championship. It truly is a first-time occurrence.

Until this happened, not one of the eight teams in Section 1 had ever made it to a title game, let alone two. The teams in Section 1 besides Hempfield and Penn-Trafford are Laurel Highlands, Albert Gallatin, Norwin, Connellsville, Latrobe and Kiski Area.

Too crowded

I know rental costs are a concern so I'm not sure this could be done. But in the future the WPIAL shoulder seriously consider playing some of these semifinals as single games instead of part of a doubleheader. Especially if the Palumbo Center is not going to be used for semifinal games.

Single games especially make sense for some of these boys games. It's just way too crowded at some games. Sometimes, people are standing everywhere. And if you want to maybe get there for some of the first game, forget it. You have to stand and wait until the place clears out a little.

Just a suggestion.

Remembering "Sonar" Myers

The Burrell girls are in the WPIAL final for the first time ever and there is a tie between this team and the Burrell boys team that was the first basketball team from the school to play for a title.

The 1979 Burrell boys team featured Joe Myers, a blonde bomber with a great shot who was nicknamed "Sonar." His daughter, Natalie, is a sophomore and one of the top players on the girls team.

In 1979, Burrell played Beaver Falls for the Class AAA title. It was the first time I attended the WPIAL finals in person. I had watched the finals for years as a kid on WQED channel 13, listening to Bill Cardille, Bill Hillgrove and Red Donley. And I'll always remember "let's go to Dr. Tony Brungo with the halftime stats."

Anyway, in 1979 my friend Jim "Buster" Lang and I ventured downtown in my parents black and red Impala to watch three title games at the Civic Arena. We were juniors at North Hills High School and the main reason for our journey was to watch some friends and classmates as the North Hills girls team played in the second game of a championship tripleheader against Franklin Regional.

I will never forget Midland's Boo Kirby banking in a long shot to beat Ford City in the first game. Franklin Regional's Pam Miklasevich and Cheryl Ellison were too strong for North Hills in the second. And in the third game, "Sonar" Myers, Brian Sharick and the Burrell boys looked like they were going to knock off powerful Beaver Falls.

Burrell took a five point lead with a little more than a minute remaining. Not totally sure of our way around downtown, "Buster" and I decided to hurry up and get out of the Arena and beat the traffic. We thought the game was over. I got home, turned on the 11 o'clock news and - WHAT? Beaver Falls came back and won, 55-54?

Damon Bryant brought Beaver Falls back. Supposedly, there was a controversial jump-ball call near the end.

By the way, "Sonar" Myers had 22 in the game before going on to play at Duquesne University.

What did I learn? Don't ever leave a game early with Beaver Falls.

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WPIAL basketball semifinal predictions

Written by Mike White on .

Before we get to the predictions, follow @PGVarsity Xtra on Twitter tonight for score updates and notes about the WPIAL semifinals. If you have a score or note, tweet it to with #wpial

As for the semifinals tonight and tomorrow, four teams in the boys semifinals have not been in the final four in at least 10 years. They are Kiski Area (last time was 2002), Uniontown (2002), Central Valley (this is only the fourth year of existence for the school) and Seton-LaSalle (last time was 2000). On the other side, shoutout to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic coach Dave Long, who has his team in the semifinals for the sixth year in a row.

Now, for predictions. 


In the WPIAL quarterfinal round and with the City League boys championship, record was 15-2. Postseason record is now 50-14 (.781 percentage)


North Allegheny vs. Hampton - Like last year, these two are meeting in the semifinals. Like last year, it is at Chartiers Valley. Like last year, they split two regular-season games. And like last year, Hampton wins. I really hate to go against North Allegheny because the Tigers are really playing well. There is a part of me that thinks North Allegheny wins this game, but ... Winner: Hampton

Raloh BlundoNew Castle vs. Kiski Area - Seedings and matchups are extremely important in this tournament. Just ask Kiski Area. Sure, the Cavaliers were seeded 13th, but they didn't have to play any of the Section 3 teams in the first two rounds. But now they do. And from the did-you-know department: Saturday's victory against Bethel Park gave New Castle coach Ralph Blundo (pictured during last year's WPIAL championship) his 100th victory in only four seasons. He is 100-10 with a 12-1 WPIAL playoff record. Winner: New Castle.


Chartiers Valley vs. Uniontown - I know Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell is worried about this game. He should be. Uniontown is good. But good enough to knock off Char Valley? This isn't one of McConnell's best teams, but it still could end up with a championship. Matty McConnell and Jerrad Tuite need to continue their stellar play for CV. Winner: Chartiers Valley

Thomas Jefferson vs. Central Valley - I waffle back and forth from day to day on this one. Yesterday, I said TJ on Varsity Xtra video. But I picked Central Valley at the start of the playoffs. Winner: Central Valley


Beaver Falls vs. Seton-LaSalle - Seton-LaSalle is the No. 1 seed. I took Beaver Falls on Varsity Xtra video, but is there any way to edit that? I guess not. Winner: Beaver Falls.

Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Aliquippa - As long as Greensburg Central Catholic keeps Aliquippa away from any "runs," GCC moves on. Winner: Greensburg Central Catholic.


Lincoln Park vs. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic - North Catholic seems to be playing well, but not well enough to win this one. Winner: Lincoln Park

Vincentian vs. Monessen - A Monessen win should not be considered an upset. The Greyhounds are that good. But Vincentian should come through in the fourth quarter. Winner: Vincentian



Fox Chapel vs. Penn-Trafford - Fox Chapel has 6-foot-3 Duke recruit Erin Mathias. But it's not how Mathias plays that will be the key to this game. It's how her teammates play. Penn-Trafford has never been to the semifinals. Does their dream season continue? Winner: Penn-Trafford

North Allegheny vs. Hempfield - North Allegheny is the No. 1 seed and Hempfield hasn't been to the semifinals since 2001. North Allegheny's defense will be key. NA coach Sherri McConnell will get the chance to coach at Duquesne's Palumbo Center, the same place she played college basketball. Winner: North Allegheny.


South Park vs. Elizabeth Foward - South Park's Allison McGrath has been superb in the playoffs, averaging 29 points a game. The rest of her team is pretty good, too. Winner: South Park.

Blackhawk vs. West Mifflin - Scott Stephenson is West Mifflin's athletic director. But he also is the Titans' girls coach and has done a tremendous job in getting the unheralded Titans to the semifinals. But Blackhawk is awfully good. Winner: Blackhawk.


Seton-LaSalle vs. Bishop Canevin - Seton-LaSalle has already defeated Bishop Canevin twice. What's that old adage that it's tough to beat a team three times? I never believed it. Winner: Seton-LaSalle.

Burrell vs. Greensburg Central Catholic - Ready for some history? Burrell's girls have never played in a WPIAL championship game. Winner: Burrell.

Brenna WiseCLASS A

Vincentian vs. Quigley - If I'm playing pickup at the playground, I want Vincentian's Brenna Wise (pictured) on my team. Quigley will have trouble with her. Now, will it be two years in a row with the Vincentian boys and girls in the WPIAL championships? John Fedko (Vincentian Prez) should be smiling. Winner: Vincentian.

Serra vs. California - California has never been to the WPIAL semifinals. Kudos to the Trojans for an unforgettable season. But it's time to think about the PIAA playoffs. Winner: Serra.


Just a reminder that all teams that make it to the WPIAL semifinals automatically qualify for the PIAA playoffs. Some quarterfinal teams also qualify. 

Here are the number of teams that qualify for the PIAA playoffs in each class.

B0YS - Class AAAA 5, Class AAA 6, Class AA 7, Class A 4

GIRLS - Class AAAA 5, Class AAA 6, Class AA 7, Class A 5

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State basketball rankings

Written by Mike White on .

Here are this week's state boys basketball rankings from and the Harrisburg Patriot-News.




No.  School                                           Rec    Pvs

1.     Roman Catholic (12)                   21-3        1

2.     New Castle (7)                             24-0        2

3.     Martin Luther King (12)             23-4        3                           

4.     Hampton (7)                                21-3        4

5.     North Allegheny (7)                    21-3        5

6 .    Chester (1)                                   20-5        9

7.     Conestoga (1)                               23-4     10

8.     Lower Merion (1)                        19-7        8

9.     Abington (1)                                 21-4        7

10.  Pennsbury (1)                              21-4      NR                                    

Others to watch: Allderdice (8) 19-5, Bethel Park (7) 18-6, Carlisle (3) 17-7, Cathedral Prep (10) 15-7, Cedar Crest (3) 24-4, Central (12) 22-3, Central Bucks West (1) 15-10, Central York (3) 24-2, Cumberland Valley (3) 18-6, Emmaus (11) 17-7, Franklin Regional (7) 16-7, Gateway (7) 14-10, Great Valley* (1) 22-3, Harrisburg* (3) 17-7, Hazleton (2) 20-4, Hempfield (7) 21-3, Hershey (3) 17-7, Kiski Area (7) 17-5, LaSalle College (12) 18-6, McDowell (10) 20-3, Obama Academy* (8) 22-1, Oxford (1) 20-7, Parkland (11) 19-5, Reading (3) 18-8, Spring-Ford (1) 23-3, St. Joseph’s Prep* (12) 16-7, Stroudsburg (11) 15-10, West Chester Rustin (1) 17-8, Wilson (3) 24-3, Wissahickon (1) 15-10, York (3) 20-6.

*-season complete




No.  School                                             Rec     Pvs

1.     Neumann-Goretti (12)                  20-4         1

2.     Archbishop Carroll  (12)              20-4         2

3.     Allentown Central Cath (11)        25-0         3

4.     Chartiers Valley (7)                      23-1         4

5.     Imhotep Charter (12)                   20-5         5

6.     Abington Heights (2)                    23-1         7

7.     Central Valley (7)                          20-3         9

8.     Bishop McDevitt (3)                      25-1         8

9.     Berks Catholic (3)                          22-5         6

10.   Uniontown (7)                                21-1       10

Others to watch: Bermudian Springs (3) 22-2, Blackhawk (7) 12-12, Blue Mountain (11) 20-5, Boiling Springs (3) 20-4, Elizabeth Forward (7) 20-4, Erie East (10) 19-4, Farrell (10) 20-3, GAR Memorial (2) 19-5, Holy Ghost Prep (1) 20-6, Honesdale (2) 21-3, Lancaster Mennonite (3) 19-6, Manheim Central (3) 23-3, Mars (7) 15-9, Montour (7) 16-8, Oil City (10) 18-4, Philly Electrical (12) 16-10, Pittston (2) 17-7, Pottsville (11) 22-4, Scranton Prep* (2) 21-3, Shamokin (4) 20-3, Strong Vincent (10) 16-7, Susquehanna Twp (3) 17-7, Thomas Jefferson (7) 22-2, West York (3) 23-3.

*-season complete




No.  School                                                  Rec    Pvs

1.     Constitution (12)                                22-5       1

2.     Seton-La Salle (7)                               23-1       4

3.     Greensburg Central Cath (7)            21-2       5

4.     Loyalsock (4)                                      23-2       2

5.     Lewisburg (4)                                     21-3       3

6.     Aliquippa (7)                                       18-5       6

7.     Mid Valley (2)                                      21-3       8

8.     Holy Cross (2)                                      19-5       7                                       

9.     Fairview (10)                                       21-2       9

10.   Elk Lake (2)                                          18-5     10

Others to watch: Avonworth (7) 17-6, Bald Eagle Area (6) 19-4, Beaver Falls (7) 18-6, Calvary Christian (1) 19-4, Catasauqua (11) 16-8, Central Martinsburg (6) 16-7, Columbia (3) 15-8, Conemaugh Twp (5) 20-5, Delone Catholic (3) 15-9, Del-Val Charter (12) 17-7, Elk Lake* (2) 21-2, Hanover (3) 18-6, Mercyhurst Prep (10) 17-6, Meyers (2) 17-7, Neshannock (7) 18-6, Northern Bedford (5) 19-5, Notre Dame-Green Pond (11) 15-9, Penns Valley (6) 19-4, Quaker Valley (7) 21-3, Reynolds (10) 16-7, Richland (6) 18-5, Riverside (2) 17-7, Summit Academy (7) 16-6, Towanda (4) 22-3, Trinity (3) 10-12.

*-season complete




No.  School                                                   Rec    Pvs

1.     Lincoln Park (7)                                   23-1       1

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

3.     Bishop Carroll (6)                                23-0       3

4.     St. John Neumann (4)                          25-0       4

5.     Johnsonburg (9)                                  22-3        5

6.     Vincentian (7)                                      22-2        6

7.     Monessen (7)                                       19-5        7                                  

8.     Church Farm (1)                                  21-4        8

9.     Elk County Catholic (9)                        22-3        9

10.   Mahanoy Area (11)                             22-2      10

Others to watch: Berlin Brothersvalley (5) 22-2, Bishop Guilfoyle (6) 18-5, Clarion-Limestone (9) 22-2, Cochranton (10) 19-3, Forbes Road (5) 16-7, Galeton (4) 19-4, Greenwood (3) 18-5, Homer-Center (6) 21-2, Juniata Valley (6) 19-5, Kennedy Catholic (10) 13-8, Lebanon Catholic (3) 16-7, Mansfield (4) 17-7, Mount Calvary (3) 21-3, Nativity (11) 17-6, New Hope Academy (3) 12-9, North Catholic (7) 15-9, Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (11) 16-7, Phil-Mont Christian (1) 18-4, Pius X (11) 18-3, Ridgway (9) 18-6, Sullivan County (4) 18-5.


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Someone gets "Malik-ed" ...... other basketball notes

Written by Mike White on .

Looking back at the WPIAL quarterfinals and City League championship, and looking ahead to the semifinals, I'm Just Sayin ...

After watching New Castle's Malik Hooker in a number of games over the past few years, he will do one or two things in some games that show off his marvelous athletic ability and just make you go "What? Did you see that?"

He's one of the few athletes around here who pull off that eye-opening play that makes your jaw drop. You don't always see it on the football field from this Ohio State football recruit. You see it more in basketball. Now, it isn't necessarily a dunk or a basket. It might be a steal. But yesterday against Bethel Park, Hooker had one of those plays.

It's when someone gets "MALIK-ED." It was a dunk against Bethel Park. Check it out. He is almost outside the lane when he starts the dunk.

Next up for Hooker and New Castle is Kiski Area in the semifinals.

I know basketball isn't as strong in this area as it was in the 1950s, 60s or 70s. But still, I don't think people really fully appreciate the run New Castle is on. To be going for a third consecutive championship with an undefeated record is hard to believe. The Red Hurricanes might not win a state title and they aren't as good as some of those great teams in the 60s or 70s, but their record the past three seasons makes them a one-of-a-kind team - at least on paper.

A Cavalier attitude

Kiski Area is undoubtedly the surprise team of the WPIAL playoffs. The Cavaliers were the No. 12 seed for the Class AAAA bracket. Now the Cavaliers are in the semifinals and they have done it under first-year coach Joe Tutchstone.

Tutchstone has done a marvelous job, but look for the joy ride to end against New Castle. Facing Plum and Gateway and facing New Castle are totally different things.

More New Castle

New Castle senior guard Anthony Richards (pictured) set the school single-season record for 3-pointers with his 87th in yesterday's game against Bethel Park. He was already the career leader at New Castle. He's the last of three Richards brothers at New Castle and his father, Dave, is an assistant coach. I wonder if Anthony also leads the WPIAL in floor burns? He is the "Charlie Hustle" of WPIAL basketball.

By the way, an interesting read in the New Castle News from Larry Kelly about some inner workings of the New Castle basketball team.

Quips storm

Was there anything more impressive in the quarterfinals yesterday than Aliquippa's comeback and fourth-quarter run? Aliquippa trailed Avonworth at one point, 31-10, but won, 82-71. Aliquippa scored outscored Avonworth, 37-18, in the fourth quarter.

Section 3 supremacy

After having four teams make the semifinals last year, three Section 3 teams made the semifinals this year. What North Allegheny did to Section 1 champ Hempfield (82-59 win) makes you wonder how some top teams in other sections would have fared in Section 3. 

But Section 3 won't be nearly as strong next year with Hampton and New Castle moving down to AAA. Neither New Castle or Hampton will be as good as this year's teams, either. Overall, I don't see Class AAAA being particularly strong next year. Sure, there will be some good teams, but it will lack the depth of strong teams.

NA's numbers

Colleague Paul Zeise points out some interesting statistics about North Allegheny. North Allegheny is 43-8 the past two years, but 41-0 against all teams other than New Castle and Hampton. North Allegheny is 2-8 against those teams - 0-5 against New Castle and 2-3 against Hampton.

North Allegheny plays Hampton in Wednesday's semifinals.

Fabulous 5 stuff?

The Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 doesn't come out until after the state playoffs, but it's never too early to debate who should be on the Fab 5? To me, there are three locks and I won't name them. After that, nothing is clear.

Is it the shoes?

Allderdice winning the City League championship will hit coach Buddy Valinsky in the wallet.

"It's going to cost me," Valinsky said. "I told them if we win and make the state playoffs, I would buy them all new shoes. So I guess I have to get them."

Valinsky has been great for Allderdice, who beat Obama, 55-54, in the title game yesterday. (Pictured are Allderdice players showing emotion after the game). Valinsky has done an excellent job with the Dragons and they are a young team with a bright future.

Valinsky used a junk defense on Obama's D.J. Porter and Porter scored only 11. The defense was a cross between a diamond-and-one and a 3-1 chaser. It had some history with Valinsky.

"I played it against the James Hairston kid in the state playoffs in 2003 and we beat Connellsville, so I thought I'd use it again," Valinsky said. "It's different than a box-and-one most people play. We have three people up front and a guy down low."


Allderdice will have to wait two weeks to play in the PIAA playoffs and the Dragons will have an interesting first-round game. They will play the WPIAL runner-up.

It was a tough loss for Obama. The Eagles hadn't lost all year. Not only did they drop the City League title game, they also did not qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Two for the semis

For four schools, the semifinals will bring double the fun. North Allegheny, Seton-LaSalle, Greensburg Central Catholic and Vincentian all have their boys and girls teams in the semifinals.


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WPIAL-City League basketball predictions

Written by Mike White on .

For score updates and notes from the WPIAL quarterfinals this weekend, follow @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter. If you have a score or update tweet with #WPIAL

Before we get to the quarterfinal predictions, a mention of Dan Bradley's eventful night on Wednesday.

Bradley is Avonworth's boys basketball coach. As he was guiding Avonworth to a victory against Frazier for the Antelopes' first playoff win since 2001, Bradley's football coaching future was changing drastically.

Dan BradleyBradley also has been the football coach at Sto-Rox the past two seasons (Bradley is pictured at a Sto-Rox practice last season). But Wednesday night, during his Avonworth game, Bradley was hired as the new football coach at Ambridge.

It will certainly be a challenge for Bradley at Ambridge. The Bridgers haven't finished above .500 since 2004.

Basketball predictions


So far in the postseason, record is 35-12 (.745 pct.)


Allderdice at Obama - Allderdice gave undefeated Obama all it could handle a few weeks ago. This one should be close, too. Expect a big, loud crowd at Obama, like the old City League days. It's not a title game at the Civic Arena or Pitt Field House like the olden days, but I suspect the atmosphere will be great. Winner: Obama 


Class AAAA - North Allegheny over Hempfield (A big part of me believes Hempfield can win, but only if it can handle North Allegheny's pressure. It will be interesting to see if Hempfield plays man-to-man); Gateway over Kiski Area; Hampton over Franklin Regional (Franklin Regional is good enough to keep it close); New Castle over Bethel Park (New Castle's defense will be the difference).

Class AAA - Central Valley over Montour (although it's tough to go against Montour coach Adam Kaufman in the playoffs); Chartiers Valley over Mars; Uniontown over Elizabeth Forward (Uniontown must overcome a size disadvantage); Thomas Jefferson over Blackhawk (TJ is good enough to win it all).

Class AA - Seton-LaSalle over Summit Academy (Note that has nothing to do with the game, but 28 years ago Summit Academy coach Adam Petrosky was a standout guard for a Kiski Area team that made it to the WPIAL AAAA final. No. 1 seed Seton-LaSalle better be careful. Summit Academy is capable of giving the Rebels problems); Beaver Falls over Neshannock (or does Neshannock beat Beaver Falls for the third time this season?); Aliquippa over Avonworth.

Class A - Linconl Park over Western Beaver (for the third time this season); Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Monessen over Wilkinsburg; Vincentian over Clairton.


So far in the postseason, record is 35-11 (.760 pct.)


Obama vs. Allderdice - This game is tonight at Allderdice. I originally was going with an Obama sweep in the City League championships, but I've changed my mind. Sierra Fordham will be the difference for Allderdice. Winner: Allderdice


Class AAAA - North Allegheny over Shaler (for the third time this season); Bethel Park over Hempfield (or does Hempfield knock off another Section 4 team. Upper St. Clair went down Tuesday); Mt. Lebanon over Penn-Trafford; Fox Chapel over Norwin.

Class AAA - Blackhawk over Mount Pleasant; West Mifflin over Ringgold; Elizabeth Forward over Central Valley (there is a chance that the EF boys and girls will both be in the semifinals. That has never happened. EF boys have never made it to the semifinals); South Park over Trinity.

Class AA - Seton-LaSalle over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (I don't know if people realize that Seton-LaSalle is still very good. First-year coach Spencer Stefko seemed to make a point of not running up scores this season); Bishop Canevin over Neshannock (Neshannock's record is good, but Bishop Canevin is playoff tested); Burrell over McGuffey; Greensburg Central Catholic over Carlynton.

Class A - Vincentian over Frazier; St. Joseph over Quigley; Serra over Aliquippa; Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic over California.

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