Scholastic Notebook – 01/24/2014

Friday, January 24, 2014 | 3:14 PM

All of a sudden, the menu of top boys basketball teams in WPIAL Class AAAA Section 4 has Big Macs on it.

The Canon-McMillan Big Macs have pushed their way into a tie for the Section 4 lead with Upper St. Clair. The two teams meet tonight in a big game.

Although Section 4 isn’t strong this year, nothing should take away from the Big Macs’ surge. They were 3-4 at one point this season and have since won seven of eight. Of the last five wins, Canon-McMillan has give up 46 points or less in four of those games.

Canon-McMillan has a legitimate shot at a section title. Section title and Canon-McMillan usually aren’t mentioned in the same sentence.

Canon-McMillan was formed in the mid 1950s when Canonsburg, Cecil and North Strabane schools merged to form Canon-McMillan. Since that time, Canon-McMillan has only one section championship in boys basketball. It came in 1973, but the Big Macs lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Overall, Canon-McMillan has made the playoffs eight times, but has won only two playoff games – 1996 and 2008.

Youth is being served on this year’s team, coached by Rick Bell. There are only two seniors on the roster and some freshmen are seeing playing time. One of them is Britton Beachy, a 6-foot guard who is now regularly scoring in double figures.

Aloi to Lincoln Park

With the number of basketball players who have transferred to Lincoln Park in recent years, some refer to the Beaver County charter school as Transfer High. Well, it turns out another talented basketball player has left his home school and transferred to Lincoln Park.

Nick Aloi, who averaged 15 points a game last season as a freshman at Ellwood City, left Ellwood City and enrolled at Lincoln Park Tuesday. Aloi is not playing this season because of a torn ACL. Lincoln Park could definitely use him next year because the Leopards are losing a few of their top players to graduation.

It is highly likely the WPIAL will have a hearing with Aloi to determine if the transfer was for athletic intent. But the way things go with the WPIAL, the league could find Aloi ineligible and then the PIAA will overturn it.

The background in this case makes the transfer interesting. Aloi’s grandfather, Frank Sr., is the superintendent of Ellwood City schools. Ellwood City basketball runs through the Aloi father. His father, Frank Jr., played on strong WPIAL teams in the 1980s. So did Nick’s brother, Dan.

Top Games This Weekend

While WPIAL basketball section play is in the stretch run, some top teams and players take a break from section games to play in two events this weekend.

The Coaches Vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans is a six-game event Saturday at Geneva College in Beaver Falls. Among the games are Hampton vs. Central Valley, Lincoln Park vs. Kiski School and Beaver Falls vs. New Castle.

The Pittsburgh Classic is also six games Sunday at Montour. It will feature a battle of unbeatens when Vincentian plays Obama Academy. Hempfield vs. Lincoln Park is another good game at Montour.

Muzzy’s Back

Muzzy Colosimo will again be on a WPIAL sideline next season.

Colosimo was hired Thursday night as the new coach at Valley High School. He takes over for Chad Walsh, who was not brought back despite taking the Vikings to the WPIAL playoffs the past two seasons.

The last we heard of Colosimo in WPIAL coaching circles, he left Greensburg Central Catholic shortly before the 2012 season. It was never determined if he was let go, or left on his own. But there was a cloud hanging over Colosimo because of a hazing incident involving Greensburg Central Catholic players while attending a camp out of town.

Colosimo was at Greensburg Central Catholic for 17 seasons (1995-2011) and had a 143-45 record. He won one WPIAL championship in 2009 and also took his team to the PIAA title game the same season.

“With the way the whole thing at Greensburg Central shook out, it all played itself out,” Colosimo said. “I came through that pretty much unscathed. I didn’t do anything wrong. … I wish them all the luck in the world. But you have to know when people don’t want you, it’s time to walk away.”

Colosimo, 63, still coached after he left GCC. He was the head coach at Renaissance Christian Academy this past season. Renaissance is a private school (not in the WPIAL) in the East Hills section of Pittsburgh, but it has folded. Colosimo also coached one season at Seton Hill University and was a coach for the Pittsburgh Passion womens team.

Ground Zero

There was a lot of talk this week – even on radio talk shows – about the Leechburg girls basketball team being shut out by Ford City, 56-0, on Monday night.

But did you know that Leechburg’s scoreless string actually stretched to six quarters? One night after losing to Ford City, Leechburg lost to West Shamokin 45-6. Leechburg did not score a point in the first half of that game.

Penn State and WPIAL Ties

New Penn State football coach James Franklin has hired two assistant coaches who have ties to the WPIAL.

Terry Smith was a football and basketball standout at Gateway High School who went on to play football at Penn State. He also was highly successful as Gateway’s football coach before leaving and becoming an assistant coach at Temple in 2013.

Franklin also hired Bob Shoop, a former three-sport athlete at Riverview High School. Shoop was a quarterback and receiver at Riverview. But Riverview fans might remember that he also was the winning pitcher in the 1983 Class AA state championship game at Shippensburg University. Shoop beat Schuylkill Haven, 4-3, in the title game. The win gave Shoop a 7-1 record for the season.

Smith also won a WPIAL title as a football player at Gateway in the 1980s.

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