George Guido: Highlands boys basketball still standing

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 5:29 PM

And then there was one.

Of the 14 Alle-Kiski Valley teams that qualified for the WPIAL basketball playoffs, only Highlands made it past the quarterfinals.

The Golden Rams (20-3) will take on Blackhawk (13-10) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at North Allegheny.

Highlands is 27-28 all-time in the WPIAL playoffs, starting with a victory in its first season (1969) against Uniontown.

The Golden Rams are 1-1 against Blackhawk in the playoffs, defeating the Cougars in the 1995 finals and losing a 2000 quarterfinal contest.

The Freeport and Riverview girls teams got some good news Monday night.

With Southmoreland reaching the WPIAL Class 4A finals, Freeport qualifies for the PIAA playoffs.

The bad news for the Yellowjackets is if North Catholic defeats Southmoreland, Freeport will face the Trojanettes in the PIAA opener.

If Southmoreland can pull off an upset, Freeport would play the survivor of a play-in game between Districts 5 and 6 (Somerset-Johnstown-Altoona area).

As for Riverview, if Bishop Canevin defeats Laurel in the WPIAL title game, the Raiders would play the District 5 champion. If Laurel wins, Riverview would play the District 10 champ.

Knoch at NA

Organizers don’t have to worry about bringing in a House of Horrors attraction to the Saxonburg Carnival this year.

Just mention the term “North Allegheny gym” to Knoch basketball fans and the thought is scary enough.

The Knights are 1-7 all-time on the North Allegheny floor after Saturday’s loss to New Castle in the WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinals.

The only Knoch win there was in 1976, the first year the school gym opened, in a Section 1-AAA tiebreaker game against Hampton.

Here’s the nightmarish litany:

1976 — W, Hampton, 35-28

1980 — L, Midland, 51-41

1982 — L, Seton LaSalle, 79-66

2000 — L, Chartiers Valley, 61-49

2013 — L, Chartiers Valley, 71-47

2015 — L, Blackhawk, 49-42

2016 — L, Beaver Falls, 68-51

2020 — L, New Castle, 55-49

Erie travel travails

Some teams complain about the travel to playoff games.

Erie High School has a legitimate gripe.

In the past two seasons, the Royals had to play PIAA preliminary-round games to get into the state brackets.

Here’s the round-trip mileage to sites: 348 to Central Cambria in Ebensburg; 262 to Allderdice and 408 miles Monday night to Tyrone.

The lengthy trip included a season-ending loss to State College in a PIAA Class 6A play-in game.

The Royals defeated Highlands 55-52 in the regular-season finale.

Erie was created four years ago in a merger of Strong Vincent, Central and East high schools.

DeMao’s birthday

Saturday is Leap Day — Feb. 29 — for lack of a better term.

This Saturday will mark 100 years since local football great Al DeMao was born on Feb. 29, 1920.

Albert Marcellus DeMao, who died Feb. 1, 2008, lived a full life.

He didn’t play football until his senior year of high school at Arnold in 1937, playing for independent teams before then.

DeMao was good enough to get a scholarship from Duquesne — a major football power at the time — where he played from 1939-41. He was set to graduate from Duquesne, but following the attack on Pearl Harbor, DeMao joined the Navy and was a D-Day hero.

DeMao drove one of the so-called boxy boats across the English Channel nine times that fateful day. The boats were famous for their ramps that were lowered to discharge troops.

After the war, DeMao played center for the Washington Redskins, snapping to all-time great Sammy Baugh.

He was named to the franchise’s 75th anniversary team in 2002.

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