Scholastic Notebook – 02/20/2015

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Friday, February 20, 2015 | 4:10 PM


Highlands and Bishop Canevin are in the WPIAL boys basketball quarterfinals.

Who would’ve thought you’d read that sentence this year?

Highlands and Bishop Canevin are two of the biggest turnaround stories in the league over the past few years.

Highlands (13-11) will play Indiana in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals tonight. Two years ago, Highlands finished 1-21 under first-year coach Tyler Stoczynski. Highlands started to show signs of improvement last year, but still finished 9-13 and out of the playoffs.

Then this year, the Rams started 0-6. With three sophomore starters, it was natural to think the Rams were at least a year away from just being competitive. But there they were Tuesday night, surprising the world of Class AAA basketball, knocking off No. 4 seed West Mifflin.

Then there is the story of Bishop Canevin. The Crusaders won only four games last year under coach Tony DiMaria. The school didn’t bring DiMaria back. Kevin Trost, a former Carlynton head coach and North Hills assistant, took over at Bishop Canevin and the Crusaders have been a big surprise, going 17-6.

Bishop Canevin also is young. The team has only two seniors on its roster. The Crusaders are a huge underdog against Aliquippa, an undefeated team and the No. 1 seed in Class AA. But no matter what happens, it has already been a memorable year for Bishop Canevin. The 16 wins are the most at the school since the 2006-07 season. This is only the sixth time since joining the WPIAL in the 1970s that Bishop Canevin has gotten past the first round.

Memorable One-Two Punch

There are no records for the most points scored in a WPIAL playoff game by two players from the same team. But it’s hard to imagine many duos scoring as many points as Ambridge’s Daylon Carter and Darius Lawrence Tuesday night.

Carter and Lawrence combined for 75 of Ambridge’s 84 points in a victory against Uniontown. Carter had 42, which was the fifth-most scored in a Class AAA playoff game. Lawrence scored 33.

While that was impressive, the other interesting statistic is what the two did from the free-throw line. The two combined to go 35 of 40 (88 percent) from the charity stripe.

Six Saints

Six is a popular number with the Imani Saints girls basketball team.

Imani Christian has only six players on its team. One of them is 6-6 Channing James.

The six Saints pulled out a WPIAL playoff win last Saturday against Aliquippa as James had 21 points and 16 rebounds. She is averaging 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots a game for Imani.

Imani joined the WPIAL for girls basketball in 2012. But the Saints were not permitted to participate in the WPIAL playoffs until this season.

James might be big, but now comes a tall order for Imani. The Saints play in the quarterfinals against three-time defending WPIAL Class A champion Vincentian.

Coach No-Show for Playoff Game

It was quite a mess earlier this week for the Steel Valley boys basketball team.

The Ironmen played South Fayette in a WPIAL AAA first-round game Tuesday. But Steel Valley didn’t have its coach, Drew Schifino.

Schifino refused to coach the game. He said in other media outlets that he didn’t coach as a form of protest to Dom Keyes being ruled academically ineligible to play Tuesday. Keyes was Steel Valley’s leading scorer.

Schifino has said he quit for only one game and expects to be Steel Valley’s coach again next season.

WPIAL and the Big 33

Rosters were announced for the Big 33 Football Classic last Friday and 12 players from the WPIAL made the Pennsylvania team that will play Maryland in the annual June all-star game in Hershey. Twenty-five percent of the WPIAL contingent is from one school.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

Three Central Catholic players were selected to the Pennsylvania team. They are defensive back Johnny Petrishen, tight end Graham Adomitis and linebacker Bryan Glover.

The other nine WPIAL players are South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, Pine-Richland quarter Ben DiNucci, Seneca Valley lineman Tyler Hudanick, Hempfield lineman Tony Pilato, Franklin Regional linebacker Brett Zanotto, Belle Vernon lineman Devin Hannan, Penn Hills lineman Michael Ames, Altoona defensive end Kevin Givens and Woodland Hills receiver Art Thompkins.

CWNC Hires Former Steeler

The Steelers all-time leader in sacks will be a head football coach in the WPIAL.

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic hired Jason Gildon as its new coach this week. He takes over for Bob Ravenstahl, who retired after this past season.

Gildon played linebacker for the Steelers from 1994-2003 and is still the team’s all-time leader in sacks. He spent a year as an assistant coach at Peters Township and also the past few years as an assistant under Don Holl at Seneca Valley. Coincidentally, Holl was one of the finalists for the North Catholic job.

Gildon lives in Wexford with his wife and four sons. He takes over a team that has lost only one game in the past two seasons.

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