Scholastic Notebook – 01/06/2012

Friday, January 6, 2012 | 3:52 PM

There has been a lot of talk about Micah Mason’s quest for the WPIAL 3-point record this season. But the Highlands High School senior guard might reach another milestone first.

Mason heads into Friday night’s game with 1,851 career points. He needs 149 to become the 26th player in WPIAL history to score 2,000 points. Mason is averaging 34 points a game, so it might not take him long to reach 2,000.

Mason needs only 47 3-pointers to reach the WPIAL record of 332, set by Chartiers Valley’s T.J. McConnell from 2005-09. Coincidentally, the last WPIAL player to score 2,000 career points was also McConnell.

Mason, who has signed with Drake, has been on fairly successful teams during his time at Highlands. He started as a freshman and helped the Rams make the WPIAL Class AAA title game. Highlands still is in the thick of the playoff race this season, but the team isn’t as strong as past years. The Rams are 3-5 so far.

More on Possible New Look for WPIAL Football

The WPIAL football steering committee met earlier this week, and there was some fairly big news coming out of the meeting – at least in terms of the makeup of the league next season.

The steering committee has come up with a proposal that would drastically change the conference makeups of Class AAAA and AAA, and also change the scheduling of season openers for all teams in all classes.

Under the new proposal, Class AAAA and AAA will have only three conferences next season. Also, just about all conferences will have nine teams. The proposal will go to the WPIAL Board of Control for a vote Jan. 17. If passed, the new look of the league will go into effect in the 2012 season.

Also, under the new plan, conference play in all classifications would start the first week of the season (Labor Day weekend). That means teams would no longer schedule their own non-conference season opener.

For decades, the WPIAL has scheduled all games but the season opener, except for a few conferences. The league always let each school schedule its opener. Sometimes, a school would play a long-time rival that is no longer in its conference.

“If the board is receptive to the recommendation and if the [conferences] being recommended are nine teams, then the ability to schedule your opener is going to be gone,” O’Malley said. “We wanted to give everybody a little heads up ahead of time so they can be prepared for this.”

Actually, athletic directors and coaches in Class AAAA formally recommended to the WPIAL ahead of time that they would like three conferences in Class AAAA.

Under the new plan, Class AAAA would have two nine-team conferences and one eight-team conference. Class AAA would have three nine-team conferences. Class AA and A would continue to have four conferences, also with three nine-team conferences. Class AA would have one eight-team conference while Class A would have one ten-team conference.

The new makeup would also change the playoff system in the top two classes. In Class AAAA and AAA, five teams from each conference would quality for the postseason, as well as one wild card. Currently, four teams from all conferences qualify for the postseason.

Haering to Pitt

There was also some big news on the WPIAL footbal coaching front this week when Chris Haering resigned as Mt. Lebanon’s coach to become an assistant at Pitt under new coach Paul Chryst.

Haering is expected to be the Panthers’ linebackers coach, although Haering has not commented yet on his new job. He told Mt. Lebanon’s players of his resignation Monday.

Haering was a head coach in the WPIAL for 18 seasons, the past 17 at Mt. Lebanon. He had a 111-71 record at Mt. Lebanon and won the 2000 WPIAL Class AAAA title. He made the playoffs 13 times, and also coached at Hampton for one season.

Haering’s ties to Chryst go back a ways. Haering was a standout linebacker at West Virginia University in the late 1980s and Chryst was a graduate assistant at WVU in 1989-90.

Big Ben for Big 33

The Big 33 all-star football squads are supposed to be released Sunday. But the Big 33 already has released news that Ben Roethlisberger will be the honorary chairman for this year’s game.

Pennsylvania plays Ohio in the annual game, which is played in Hershey. Roethlisberger played for Ohio in 2000 before going on to star at Miami, Ohio.

“It was such an honor for me to play in the Big 33 Classic, given the tradition of the game and legacy of great players,” Roethlisberger said. “I am excited to return now as the Honorary Chairman, to be involved again in something truly special.”

On the Mend

The bad news is that standout Derry wrestler Jimmy Gulibon has an injured knee. The good news is he should be back to try and become one of the slected wrestlers in WPIAL history who have won four state championships.

Gulibon will miss a few weeks after suffering a knee injury in the Powerade Tournament on December 30th.

Bouncing Back

Many eyes opened on the first night of the boys basketball season when West Middlesex upset Beaver Falls. Maybe that woke up Beaver Falls because the Tigers have been on a roll ever since.

Since that opening-night loss, the Tigers have won games by 35, 32, 18, 29, 32, 9, 34 and 56. Lincoln Park was the only team to come within 10 points.

Where Are They Now?

* Chris Klimchock, who was one of the WPIAL’s top basketball players a few years ago, left the Edinboro University program and transferred to St. Vincent.

* Former Blackhawk High School basketball star Dante Calabria, who went on to play at the University of North Carolina, is in his first season as an assistant coach at North Carolina-Wilmington.

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