Scholastic Notebook – 01/31/2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016 | 3:27 PM

Cali Konek’s scoring average has opened eyes across WPIAL girls basketball, and here is another startling statistical fact from the freshman guard at Imani Christian: Konek has a good chance to become the first WPIAL girl to score 1,000 points in a season.

And she might reach the milestone in the regular season.

Scoring 1,000 points in the regular season seems surreal, but Konek already has 873 points and Imani Christian has three games left this week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday). Konek averages 45.9 points a game. So if she gets her average, she will break 1,000 points.

No WPIAL girl has ever scored 1,000 points in a season. Monessen’s Gina Naccarato came close as a senior in 1996 when she scored a little more than 900. But that was in 29 games, including playoffs. After the regular season, Konek will have played in 22 games. Imani Christian also has clinched a spot in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

Only two WPIAL boys have scored 1,000 points in one season – Wampum’s Don Hennon and Chartiers Valley’s T.J. McConnell. But they needed playoffs to reach the mark.

Konek could end up in the national record book this season. She is averaging 45.9 points a game. According to the National Federation of State High School Association record book, only nine girls in the history of U.S. girls high school basketball have averaged 45 points or more for an entire season. The best was 60.0, by Christy Cooper of Circleville, W.Va., in 1988-89.

Konek won’t come close to the most points scored in a season. Geri Grigsby of McDowell, Ky., scored 1,885 in the 1976-77 season.

Obviously, one has to shoot a lot to average 45 points  a game. And Konek does shoot a lot, launching 33 shots a game. But she is shooting 50 percent (185 of 372) from two-point range, and 38 percent (100 of 266) from 3-point range. She also is an excellent free-throw shooter, making 87 percent (203-233) from the line.

Konek also averages 6.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.4 steals a game.

Quad-A Logjams

Everyone from coaches, to fans, to media members have commented how balanced Class AAAA boys basketball is this season and how there is not one or two great teams. The playoff picture tells you how balanced AAAA really is.

There are 30 teams in Class AAAA. Heading into the final week of section play, 11 teams have clinched playoff spots, but 11 of them are still alive for the playoffs. That means 73 percent of teams are still thinking about the postseason. The biggest traffic jams are in Section 2 and 4, where six of eight teams have either clinched or are still alive for playoffs in both sections.

Wilkinsburg Says Goodbye

The final meaningful sporting event in Wilkinsburg High School history was played Friday when the Wilkinsburg boys defeated visiting East Allegheny. Wilkinsburg has one final home game Monday night, a relatively meaningless non-section game against Holy Family.

Wilkinsburg will close at the end of the school year. Wilkinsburg doesn’t have baseball or softball in the spring, so Friday’s game against East Allegheny was the final home section game. While many are sentimental about no more sports at Wilkinsburg, the Tigers boys basketball team is trying to also keep focused on something else.

A playoff run.

Wilkinsburg has already qualified for the playoffs, but the Tigers have a chance to finish tied for second place in Class AA Section 2. Wilkinsburg is 13-7 overall and in third place in Section 2 with a 7-4 record. Wilkinsburg has one section game left Tuesday at second-place Shady Side Academy. If Wilkinsburg could win, and Greensburg Central Catholic beats Shady Side Academy on Friday, then Wilkinsburg and Shady Side Academy would tie for second.

“These guys could be part of something special, and that’s going down as Wilkinsburg’s last team,” said Wilkinsburg coach Eugene Wilson. “But they have remained very focused on the task at hand of the playoffs, and the reason why is because we can get as far as second place in the section.”

Ironmen Thrive Under Chapman

It wasn’t the easiest of situations for Dale Chapman. Just a few days before the start of official practices for the high school basketball season, Steel Valley fired coach Drew Schifino after one season and hired Dale Chapman as coach.

All Chapman has done is guide the Ironmen to something that hasn’t been done at the school in 13 years.

Steel Valley has won the WPIAL Class AAA Section 4 title. The Ironmen are 10-2 in section play and have a three-game lead in the section with two games to play. It is the first section title at the school since the 2002-03 season and only the fifth in school history. But this is Steel Valley’s first section title outright (without a tie) since the 1992 season.

Steel Valley won section titles in 1992, 2000, 2002 and 2003, but the Ironmen tied for the section title in the final three years.

Chapman was a former assistant coach at West Mifflin for a decade before taking over at Steel Valley.

Salvino for 600

When it comes to the winningest coaches in WPIAL history, this man is no average Joe.

On Friday night, Monessen coach Joe Salvino became only the 10th coach in WPIAL history to win 600 games. He followed that with another win Saturday to give him a record of 601-237.

Another WPIAL coach is also one win away from 600. Ringgold’s Phil Pergola stayed at 599 wins Friday as the Rams lost to Belle Vernon. Ringgold is now in last place in Class AAA Section 4 with a 7-10 record overall and a 3-8 mark in section.

The question is will Pergola get to 600 this season? The Rams have four games left, but none are easy as they play West Mifflin, Elizabeth Forward, Steel Valley and Trinity.

Close Calls for Big Macs

The Canon-McMillan boys team is in the cellar of Class AAAA Section 4 with a 2-10 record. But the Big Macs have had some hard luck in close games. Canon-McMillan has lost two section games by six points, one by four and a pair by two points.

Hamlin to Decide

The highest-rated senior in the WPIAL football class of 2016 is finally ready to make his college choice.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic defensive back Damar Hamlin will announce his choice Monday night. His three finalists are Pitt, Penn State and Ohio State. He made his final official visit this weekend to Pitt.

Another one of the WPIAL’s top seniors made his college decision this past week. McKeesport’s Khaleke Hudson made a verbal commitment to Michigan. Pitt, Penn State and UCLA were his other finalists.

Wednesday is letter-of-intent day. It is the first day college seniors can sign a binding letter of intent with a college.

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