Scholastic Notebook – 12/21/2012

Friday, December 21, 2012 | 2:43 PM

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Erin Mathias is a big girl, with a big reputation, and a scholarship to a big-time college. And now she’s bounced back from a knee injury in a big way.

Mathias is a 6-foot-3 center on the Fox Chapel girls basketball team and one of the top juniors in the WPIAL. She showed so much promise as a young player that she accepted a scholarship to Duke when she was a freshman two years ago.

But Mathias did not play as a sophomore after season-ending knee surgery. She has recovered nicely and has been tormenting Fox Chapel opponents so far this season. She is averaging a “double double” and has had some monster games. She had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots against Franklin Regional; 23 points and 15 rebounds against Baldwin; 19 points and 14 rebounds vs. Moon.

Mathias averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman, but is playing on a much higher level this year. The surgery last year was for patella tendinitis.

“I’m completely healthy now, which is great,” Mathias said. “The tendinitis got so bad last year that I had to get minor surgery.”

One of Mathias’ best attributes is her versatility. Although she is a center, you will see her sometimes play on the outside on offense and even handle the ball.

“Coach has a lot of confidence in me to handle the ball,” Mathias said. “I find myself getting a lot more assists now and I’m more confident to shoot outside now.”

Mathias has made quite a difference for Fox Chapel. The Foxes are 6-0. Last season, they finished 3-19.

Sections for Undefeateds

Section 3 in Class AAAA boys basketball is reputed to be strong – and it is showing so far. Three teams are still undefeated in Section 3. They are are Hampton (6-0), New Castle (6-0) and North Allegheny (5-0).

The only other section with three undefeated teams is Section 3 of Class AA. Greensburg Central Catholic is 7-0, Jeannette 6-0 and Serra 6-0. Serra plays undefeated OLSH (5-0) in a non-section game Friday night on MSA.

Naughty Leechburg

The Leechburg boys basketball team had to hold out its hands and let the WPIAL slap their wrists this week.

The WPIAL placed Leechburg on probation for a year and publicly censured coaches and school administrators because Leechburg had a team in its tipoff tournament that isn’t from a sanctioned high school.

On December 7th and 8th, Leechburg played host to a four-team event. One of the teams was St. Gertrude from Vandergrift. But St. Gertrude does not have a high school and the team plays CYO basketball. Players on the team are from different schools.

PIAA and WPIAL teams are not permitted to play teams that aren’t from sanctioned high schools.

Leechburg played St. Gertrude, as did Winchester Thurston. But the WPIAL only reprimanded Winchester Thurston.

Probation means the WPIAL will keep a watchful eye on Leechburg for the next year. Any other rules infractions in the next year would draw stiffer penalties for Leechburg.

Minnie Still Ineligible

Basketball player Elijah Minnie has swung and missed three times with his eligibility, but he has one more swing left.

Minnie is the talented 6-foot-8 junior forward at Lincoln Park. He played at Monessen as a freshman but as a sophomore was sent to Summit Academy, a school for adjudicated youth. After he finished his time at Summit Academy, Minnie transferred to Lincoln Park, which has a strong basketball program.

The WPIAL ruled Minnie ineligible, saying he transferred to Lincoln Park for athletic reasons. The PIAA upheld the WPIAL ruling.

But Lincoln Park claimed it had new evidence in the case, and asked for a new hearing with the WPIAL. Such a move is allowed these days, and the WPIAL granted Minnie a new hearing Monday. However, the WPIAL still ruled Minnie ineligible by a 13-0 vote.

Minnie, though, plans to appeal his case to the PIAA one more time.

All-State Football

North Allegheny, Aliquippa and Clairton were three dominant WPIAL teams that won WPIAL titles this year. All three schools had multiple players on the all-state teams.

North Allegheny had six players on the Class AAAA all-state team, Clairton five on the Class A team and Aliquippa three on the Class AA squad. On top of that, North  Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich was selected the Class AAAA Player of the Year in Pennsylvania, and Clairton running back-receiver-defensive back Tyler Boyd was picked the Class A Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The six North Allegheny players that made all-state were were Leftwich, offensive lineman Pat Kugler, receiver Gregg Garrity, tight end Zach Lyon, defensive lineman Jeremy Gonzales and defensive back Brendan Coniker.

The other five players from the WPIAL to make the Class AAAA team were Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson, Woodland Hills defensive lineman Jawan Turner, Woodland Hills linebacker Alex Beasley, McKeesport linebacker Hodari Christian and Gateway defensive back Montae Nicholson.

The five Clairton players that made all-state were Boyd, receiver Terrish Webb, offensive lineman Devonte Harvey, defensive lineman Robert Boatright and defensive back Titus Howard.

Other WPIAL players that made the Class A team were Monessen quarterback Chavas Rawlins, Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams and Chartiers-Houston defensive back Garrett Vulcano.

The three Aliquippa players who made Class AA all-state were offensive lineman Jaleel Fields, running back Terry Swanson and defensive back Dravon Henry.

Overall, the WPIAL had 10 players on the Class AA team. The others were South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, Washington running back Shai McKenzie, South Fayette receiver Zach Challingsworth, Seton-LaSalle tight end Scott Orndoff, Burrell linebacker Cole Bush, Washington linebacker Jaylin Kelly and Beaver Falls defensive back Elijah Cottrill.

The Class AAA all-state team had eight players from the WPIAL, including two from Montour – offensive lineman Matt Barone and receiver-running back Devin Wilson.

The other WPIAL players on the Class AAA team were Thomas Jefferson quarterback Joe Carroll, Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, West Allegheny offensive lineman Jordan Diven, Belle Vernon offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, West Mifflin quarterback Derrick Fulmore and Franklin Regional linebacker Carter Henderson.

Woodson to Akron

Gateway quarterback Thomas Woodson has made a verbal commitment to the University of Akron.
Woodson’s recruiting story took a detour recently. He committed to the University of Arizona this past summer, but Arizona pulled its scholarship offer in November. Then Akron came into the picture and offered.

Woodson’s Akron scholarship might be one that McKeesport quarterback Eddie Stockett had originally accepted. Stockett committed to Akron this summer, but Stockett and the Zips eventually parted ways. Stockett is unsure of his college choice.

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