Scholastic Notebook – 03/13/2015

Friday, March 13, 2015 | 12:51 PM

This is the time of year in basketball where coaches often look to their seniors or experienced players for leadership and to make key plays in playoff games.

But for a few teams in the WPIAL, “fresh” faces can be seen on the court.

The New Castle and Mars boys, and also the Chartiers-Houston girls have made it to the PIAA quarterfinals and freshmen have fueled their runs.

* For New Castle, 6-foot freshman forward Marcus Hooker is averaging 10 points and seven rebounds a game for a team that will play Archbishop Carroll tonight in the Class AAA elite eight. Hooker is the younger brother of Malik Hooker, a former New Castle star who is now a freshman football player at Ohio State. Marcus also plays football.

Another Hooker brother, Marquel, is a junior guard on New Castle’s team and averages 14 points a game.

* At Mars, the Planets use a freshman at point guard. Robby Carmody is the son of coach Rob Carmody. The younger Carmody is 6-3 and averages in double figures. He hit two free throws with eight seconds left against Beaver Falls in the second round to send the game into overtime. Mars won in overtime and plays Erie Cathedral Prep Friday night in a quarterfinal game. Carmody also was a starter on the Mars football team.

* Chartiers-Houston has 6-1 freshman Alexa Williamson, a 6-1 center who has made a huge impact on the Buccaneers. Williamson has led Char-Houston to a spot in the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1983. Char-Houston will play Bishop Canevin in a Class AA game Friday night. Williamson is averaging 21.1 points a game.

It’s hard to come up with three WPIAL teams over the years that have made it this far in the PIAA playoffs and have had three freshmen playing such prominent roles.

Daughter of Guy

Guy Montecalvo won more than 200 games during his career as a football coach at Washington and Canon-McMillan high schools. It looks like the coaching gene was passed to his daughter.

Chartiers-Houston’s girls basketball coach is Laura Montecalvo, daughter of Guy. She is a 2006 graduate of Washington High School and has done a tremendous job in her first season as Char-Houston’s coach. She has the Bucs in the PIAA Class AA elite 8.

Montecalvo earned 12 varsity letters in basketball, track and field and volleyball when she was at Washington. She played two seasons of basketball at California, Pa., before knee injuries forced her to give up the sport.

Section Supremacy

Talk about a WPIAL section flexing its muscles. There are eight teams in the entire state in the PIAA quarterfinals. In Class AA girls, three of the eight are from one section.

Seton-LaSalle (21-7), Bishop Canevin (18-10) and Chartiers-Houston (19-9) all played in WPIAL Class AA Section 3 and all have made it to the elite 8. Seton-LaSalle plays Bellwood-Antis Friday night while Char-Houston plays Bishop Canevin.

Rise of the Centurions

They have not gotten tons of attention because they have not won a WPIAL of PIAA title, but it’s impressive what the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions boys have done over the past five years under coach Greg Bisignani.

Greensburg Central will play in the Class AA quarterfinals against West Middlesex. This is the fourth time in five years that Greensburg Central has made it to the quarterfinals.

O’Connor Resigns at Bethel Park

Bethel Park is looking for a new boys basketball coach after Ben O’Connor resigned Thursday.

It is a significant move because O’Connor was successful as Bethel Park’s coach. He was the Black Hawks coach for six seasons and made the WPIAL playoffs the past four seasons, winning at least 15 games the past four years.

O’Connor said he stepped down to spend more time with his family. He and his wife have three children, ages 4, 5 and 7.

O’Connor does not leave the cupboard bare at Bethel Park. Some key players graduated from this year’s team, including guard Joe Mascaro, the team’s leading scorer. But there is plenty of promise for the future. Jake Dixon, a 6-6 forward, is one of the returnees.

“I thought maybe I could do another 10 years at Bethel, but it was time to do this,” said O’Connor. “They’ve got a chance to be really good for the next however many years.”

O’Connor also coached four years at Fox Chapel and four at Keystone Oaks. His overall record was 195-148. He said he might coach again someday.

Loughran Hired at Fox Chapel

Fox Chapel made it official this past Monday. Tom Loughran is the Foxes new football coach.

Loughran was hired by Fox Chapel about a month or so after he resigned at South Park after 32 seasons. Loughran won two WPIAL and two PIAA titles at South Park.

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