Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands set for another anticipated matchup

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023 | 3:35 PM


There will be an abundance of athleticism on the basketball court Tuesday night in Uniontown.

And odds are it will be another sellout when Belle Vernon (5-5 , 1-1) visits No. 2-ranked Laurel Highlands (9-1, 2-0) in a Section 3-4A boys game at Harold “Horse” Taylor Memorial Gymnasium.

While fans want to see fast breaks and dunks, the teams want to improve their standing. Now that they are section opponents, the matchup carries much more meaning.

Belle Vernon, which has rounded into form after a slow start due to the absence of football players, features junior 6-foot-3 forward Quinton Martin.

The five-star football prospect who was the Trib Westmoreland Boys Basketball Player of the Year last winter, was one of eight football players who eventually joined the basketball team after a WPIAL and PIAA championship run.

Laurel Highlands has senior Rodney Gallagher, a two-sport star who will play football at West Virginia. The accomplished guard has been one of the state’s best basketball players for the duration of his career.

Martin and Gallagher are the big names. But each team has talented complementary pieces, including two of the top scorers in the WPIAL.

Zion Moore, a sophomore transfer from Ringgold, leads Belle Vernon at 28 points per game, while 6-3 forward Keondre Deshields averages 25.7 points for the Mustangs.

Both teams average over 65 points a game. Belle Vernon, which started 1-4, gives up 67.

The Leopards, who had 98 points against McKeesport and 87 against Southmoreland, are coming off a 79-64 loss to Uniontown.

Last year, a packed house watched the host Mustangs edge Belle Vernon, 76-67, in a battle of undefeated teams.

Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi and Penn State’s James Franklin attended the matchup and watched three seniors top 20 points.

Devin Whitlock had 29 points and Daniel Gordon 25 for Belle Vernon, while Brandon Davis had 29 for Laurel Highlands.

Martin had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Gallagher scored 16.

Belle Vernon won 64-56 two years ago.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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