Scholastic Notebook – 01/08/2013
Friday, January 18, 2013 | 4:31 PM
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New Castle has most certainly been the class of WPIAL Class AAAA boys’ basketball this season. But after New Castle, there might not be a team in Class AAAA playing better lately than Seneca Valley.
Heading into Friday night’s games, Seneca Valley has a 10-3 record and the Raiders have won six of their past seven games. One of those wins was a 57-35 triumph on the road against highly-touted Hampton.
Earlier this week, Seneca Valley was the No. 6-ranked team in the MSA Class AAAA rankings. But with Hampton losing to New Castle Tuesday night, Seneca Valley just might be a top five team in the next rankings.
Hampton had been a top five team all season, but after the first half of section play, Seneca Valley is actually ahead of Hampton in the Section 3 standings. New Castle is in first place in Section 3 with a 7-0 record. North Allegheny is second at 6-1, followed by Seneca Valley at 5-2 and then Hampton 4-3.
The only blemish on Seneca Valley’s resume lately is a 79-45 loss to New Castle. But New Castle has handily defeated every team in Section 3 this year. Earlier in the season, Seneca Valley lost to North Allegheny by only 55-49 and Seneca Valley led at halftime, 26-20.
Seneca Valley, under coach Victor Giannotta, has a well-rounded team with some good overall size. Alex Snyder is a 6-foot-7 senior who starts on the inside. Easton Bazzoli is a 6-5 guard and one of the top players in Class AAAA. He is averaging 16 points a game.
R.J. McCauley, a 6-3 senior forward, also has played well lately, averaging 13 points over the past four games.
On Top of the Section
The first half of section play is complete in the WPIAL and Mars, Beaver and Deer Lakes are all either in first place or tied for first in their respective sections. History says this is unusual.
It has been quite a while since any of the three won a section title. Mars has won only one section championship in school history and that was in 1987.
Beaver hasn’t won a section championship since 1978.
Deer Lakes hasn’t won a section since 1992.
There is no denying that all three are having excellent seasons, but some changes in WPIAL alignment certainly helped their quests to win section titles. For Mars, Hampton moved out of Class AAA Section 1 and up to Class AAAA. Mars also is in Section 1.
For Beaver, New Castle moved out of Class AAA Section 2 and up to Class AAAA. Beaver is in Section 2.
For Deer Lakes, a drop from Class AAA to Class AA certainly helped.
Jeannette’s Ciara Gregory is the leading scorer in WPIAL girls basketball this season, but North Catholic senior guard Lauren Wolosik has been on a scoring tear lately and is playing as well as any guard in the WPIAL.
Over the past six games, Wolosik has averaged 29.2 points and raised her season averaged to 24.6 points a game. Wolosik is a future Division I college player, signing during the NCAA early-signing period with Central Connecticut State.
Football Coaching News
Over the past week, the wheels have been turning quickly in WPIAL football coaching.
* The biggest news this week was that George Smith is expected to return to coach the McKeesport Tigers. Smith coached the Tigers from 1982 through 2009 before resigning. He won two WPIAL and two PIAA titles. Jim Ward coached McKeesport the past three seasons before resigning. Reports have Smith being named McKeesport’s coach again at a school board meeting next week.
* Jamie Eckels resigned as Serra Catholic’s coach after three seasons. Eckels used to be Smith’s offensive coordinator at McKeesport.
* Baldwin was going to open its football coaching position Wednesday, but Jim Wehner ended up resigning after four seasons. He had a 12-25 record in four years. Wehner was one of the finalists for the McKeesport job along with Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade.
* T.J. Wiley left Northgate to become the new coach at Deer Lakes. Wiley was the Flames’ coach the past two seasons. At Deer Lakes, he takes over for Todd Hazlett, whose contract was not renewed.
* Rod Steele had resigned as Steel Valley’s coach last month, but has since rescinded his resignation and will coach the Ironmen again.
* Brady Barbero resigned as California’s coach after four seasons.
* Jason Ruscitto resigned as East Allegheny’s coach.
Three Bears for Pitt
The Pitt football team turned a triple play in recruiting Clairton this season. Three players from the Clairton Bears team have made verbal commitments to Pitt and will sign with the Panthers next month.
Receiver-defensive back Titus Howard committed to Pitt last summer.
Then a few weeks ago, Clairton star receiver-defensive back Tyler Boyd announced he will attend Pitt. Boyd made his announcement on NBC television during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl all-star game in San Antonio. Boyd played in the game.
Then last weekend, Clairton receiver-defensive back Terrish Webb committed to the Panthers while on a visit to Pitt. Webb had committed to Kent State during the season, but Pitt offered him a scholarship after the WPIAL championship game in late November.
Boyd, Webb and Howard were referred to as The Killer T’s at Clairton.
Big 33 and the WPIAL
The WPIAL will be well represented at this summer’s Big 33 Football Classic – both with players and coaches.
The Big 33 is a football all-star game played every June in Hershey that pits the top graduated seniors from Pennsylvania against another state. This year, Pennsylvania will play Maryland.
Ten players from the WPIAL were selected to the Pennsylvania team, including two players each from Clairton and Seneca Valley.
Also, North Allegheny’s Art Walker will be the Pennsylvania head coach and two of his assistants will be Central Valley’s Mark Lyons and former Baldwin coach Jim Wehner.
The two Clairton players on the team are Boyd and Howard. The two Seneca Valley players are running back Forrest Barnes and offensive lineman Dean Ketterer.
The other WPIAL plays selected were Belle Vernon offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich, Woodland Hills linebacker Alex Beasley, Gateway defensive back Todd Jeter, Washington linebacker Jaylin Kelly and West Mifflin defensive end Marcus Martin.
Star players Pat Kugler of North Allegheny and Robert Foster of Central Valley turned down invitations to play in the Big 33.
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