Scholastic Notebook – 01/17/2016
Sunday, January 17, 2016 | 4:33 PM
Maybe just call this a saga of Penn-manship.
Jim Rocco resigned in the spring as the boys basketball coach at Penn Hills High School in order to become coach at Penn-Trafford. He is enjoying success at his new job.
Dan DeRose took over for Rocco at Penn Hills. DeRose came to Penn Hills from South Park, and DeRose is enjoying success at his new job.
So it’s two new coaches at two schools with Penn as the first name. This really is a Jim Dan-dy story.
At Penn-Trafford, the Warriors are 10-4 under Rocco, who won two WPIAL titles and one PIAA championship in his 19 years at Penn Hills. Penn-Trafford is tied for second place in Class AAAA Section 1.
It’s a significant turnaround at Penn-Trafford because the Warriors were 8-15 and 5-17 the past two seasons. Two of the losses this season were close ones to Latrobe (69-65 and 74-68). But one of the other losses was to his old school. Penn Hills beat Penn-Trafford, 101-66, over the holidays.
At Penn Hills, DeRose has the Indians playing about as well as anyone in Class AAAA. After starting the season 2-4, Penn Hills is riding a 10-game winning streak. Included in the streak are wins against Plum, North Allegheny and Gateway.
Penn Hills is tied for first place in Class AAAA Section 2 with Franklin Regional. Penn Hills plays host to Franklin Regional Friday.
DeRose came to Penn Hills after only one season at South Park. But he also had been a coach at Community College of Beaver County for six years and two years at Chowan (N.C).
Best in Offense-Defense
The Monessen boys have been tremendous on offense this season, averaging 90.9 points, by far the best average in the WPIAL. Next is Vincentian at 79.9, Latrobe at 79.7 and Mars at 77.7.
On defense, Aliquippa has the best team, allowing only 40.0 points a game. Sewickley Academy and Montour are allowing only 43.6 points and California 43.9.
In WPIAL girls basketball, Bishop Canevin has the best defensive team, allowing only 31.2 points a game. California allows only 31.5. and Chartiers-Houston at 32.5.
The Imani Christian girls have the No. 1 individual scorer in Cali Konek, who averages 45.4 points a game. But Imani Christian also leads the WPIAL in team scoring at 67.3 points a game. North Allegheny is next at 65.0 and Vincentian at 64.8.
Latrobe is one of the top scoring teams in the WPIAL, and one of the main reasons is one of the best one-two punches in the WPIAL.
No team in the league has two players averaging 20 points a game, but Graytok and Butler are, oh , so close.
Butler leads the WPIAL in scoring at 26.7 points a game while Graytok is averaging 19.9.
Cash is Money
A girl named Cash is paying big dividends for the McKeeport girls basketball team. It sounds like the early 1990s all over again. Swin Cash played at McKeesport during that time and is one of the all-time greats from the WPIAL.
This time, it’s Johnasia Cash. She might not be at Swin’s level of talent, but Johnasia is making a big impact at McKeesport also.
Johnasia and Swin are cousins. Johnasia is a 6-foot-1 junior forward who is averaging 19 points a game for McKeesport, which is 10-4 and in third place of WPIAL Class AAAA Section 3. Some Division I colleges are expressing an interest in Cash.
Look at three of the four sections in Class AAAA boys basketball and there is more traffic than the Parkway east at rush hour.
The races in Section 2, 3 and 4 are tremendous. In Section 2, five teams are within two games of each other from first place to fifth place.
Section 3 is the same way, with five teams within two games of each other from first to fifth place.
Section 4 also is rugged with four teams within two games of each other from second to fifth place.
There was a rather significant coaching hire in WPIAL football this past week as Don Holl was hired as Gateway’s new coach.
Gateway hopes to have its program return to prominence after missing the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs this past season. Tom Nola then resigned after only two years as coach.
Holl was New Castle’s offensive coordinator last season. But before that, he was Seneca Valley’s coach for six seasons and had a 37-25 record. He made the WPIAL playoffs four times and his 2012 and 2013 squads were a combined 19-4. Before coming to Seneca Valley, Holl was Erie Cathedral Prep’s coach from 2005-08 and had a 36-14 record.
“I would’ve been very happy to go back to New Castle,” said Holl. “But this job, to me, was very attractive. I think there’s a lot of talent, and a lot of history and tradition.”
Elsewhere, Connellsville hired Tim Karpiak as its new coach on Wednesday. Karpiak was an assistant at Connellsville last year and previously was an assistant at Unionton.
Ford Transfers to Steel Valley
While Holl’s hiring might have been a significant coaching move in WPIAL football, there was a significant player move this past week. Paris Ford transferred from Seton-LaSalle to Steel Valley.
Ford is a junior receiver-defensive back who made a verbal commitment to Pitt during this past season. He had a number of other scholarship offers and he is ranked among the top 100 players in the country in the class of 2017.
Ford left Seton-LaSalle last Friday and then enrolled at Steel Valley a few days later. Seton-LaSalle coach/athletic director Damon Rosol said the school will not challenge the transfer. He had said the move wasn’t for athletic intent.
This is the third high school in three years for Ford. He was at Pittsburgh Central Catholic as a freshman.
The WPIAL can still bring Ford in for a hearing to determine if athletic intent was involved.
More Basketball• Boys basketball preview: Freeport looking to play fast and aggressive
• Girls basketball preview: Hempfield expects fluid lineup
• Boys basketball preview: Hempfield ready to pick up pace
• Girls basketball preview: Fox Chapel ready to take next step in coach’s second season
• Girls basketball preview: Hampton aims to get back on track with up-tempo attack