Scholastic Notebook – 01/25/2013

Friday, January 25, 2013 | 4:21 PM





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The low point of the season was the lowest-point total for Upper St. Clair.

Although coach Danny Holzer had his team hold the ball, the Panthers scored only 17 points in a 38-17 loss to Bethel Park back on December 18th. Since then, nothing has been able to slow down Upper St. Clair.

Upper St. Clair is one of the hottest boys basketball teams in WPIAL Class AAAA. The Panthers bounced back from that Bethel Park loss and are now riding a nine-game winning streak. After defeating Bethel Park, 63-50, on Tuesday night, Upper St. Clair is 12-3 overall and tied with Bethel Park for first place in Section 4 with an 8-1 record.

Going back to that Bethel Park game, Holzer decided to hold the ball because his leading scorer, Jordan Grabowski, didn’t play. Grabowski, a senior guard, is averaging 16 points a game and has been a key in the Panthers’ recent surge. The other two keys have been defense and J.J. Conn.

First, Conn. A junior guard-forward, he has scored in double figures in six consecutive games and has averaged 16 points in those games. He had 22 against Bethel Park.

As for the defense. During the nine-game winning streak, Upper St. Clair has held seven opponents to 50 points or less.

With five games left, Upper St. Clair has a chance to win its first section title since 2005.

“Classic” Showdowns

Upper St. Clair has a big game Sunday, even thought it is a non-section contest.

Upper St. Clair will play Gateway as part of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Classic at LaRoche College. Gateway is one of the top teams in Class AAAA and this game could possibly have an effect on playoff seedings down the line.

The Pittsburgh Basketball Club Classic is a six-game event run by John Giammarco of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club. The event has a few other interesting matchups. Lincoln Park plays Seneca Valley in an interesting Class A vs. AAAA matchup. Lincoln Park is No. 1 in the MSA Sports Class A rankings while Seneca Valley is No. 5 in Class AAAA.

Montour plays Shaler in another game that is intriguing because of two players. Montour’s Devin Wilson and Shaler’s Geno Thorpe are two of the top guards in the WPIAL.

The schedule for the Classic is: Aliquippa vs. West Allegheny (11 a.m.); Ambridge vs. Seton-LaSalle (1:30 p.m.); Sto-Rox vs. Chartiers Valley (3 p.m.); Upper St. Clair vs. Gateway (4:30 p.m.); Seneca Valley vs. Lincoln Park (6 p.m.); Shaler vs. Montour (7:30 p.m.).

Boyd and Basketball

Tyler Boyd has returned to the Clairton basketball team.

Boyd is one of the many Clairton football players on the basketball team. The football season didn’t end until mid-December. But Boyd played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January, so he didn’t want to start playing basketball until after that game.

Then Boyd decided to take a little more time off because he had turf toe. Boyd, a Pitt football recruit, scored 16 points against OLSH earlier this week. He was an all-section basketball player last year.

Early Decision

You might think it’s a little early for a sophomore in high school to make a college decision. But two talented sophomore point guards in WPIAL girls basketball already have their college choice out of the way.

On Wednesday, Blackhawk’s Chassidy Omogrosso accepted a scholarship from Pitt and made a verbal commitment to the Panthers.

In late August, Seton-LaSalle’s Cassidy Walsh made a verbal commitment to Duquesne University.

“It’s such a relief to have this over with, to already know where you want to go,” said Omogrosso, who is averaging 23 points a game. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play Division I basketball. I just can’t believe it happened.”

Smith Officially the Coach

What had been expected to happen for more than a week is now official. George Smith is back as McKeesport High School’s football coach.

Smith was officially hired by McKeesport Tuesday night. He had been McKeesport’s coach for 28 seasons before resigning after the 2009 season. Smith won two WPIAL titles and two PIAA titles during his first tenure.

More Coaching News

Niel Loebig was hired this week as the new football coach at Chartiers Valley.

Loebig is a former standout quarterback at South Fayette High School and Duquesne University. He threw for more than 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns at Duquesne. He spent this past season as passing game coordinator/receivers coach at Duquesne. He also served as a Duquesne assistant from 2006-10 before spending one year as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Lely High School in Naples, Fla..

Meet Mr. Pennsylvania sponsors Mr. Pennsylvania awards for the top players in Pennsylvania. Four WPIAL players are among the 10 finalists for this year’s awards, which will be announced Feb. 9 at a banquet in Hershey.

Fans, sports writers, sports broadcasters and coaches around the state nominate players. Two awards are given to Small School Mr. Pennsylvania and Big School Mr. Pennsylvania. The five finalists for Small School Mr. Pennsylvania (Class AA an d A) are Clairton receiver-defensive back Tyler Boyd, Port Allegany quarterback Matt Bodamer, Old Forge running back Brian Tomasetti, Williams Valley receiver Owen Daniel and Imhotep Charter running back David Williams.

The five finalists for Big School Mr. Pennsylvania (AAA and AAAA) are North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich, North Allegheny lineman Pat Kugler, Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, Erie Cathedral Prep quarterback Damion Terry and Pennridge running back Michael Class.

One-Two Punch

It seems potent one-two scoring punches are popular in district hockey this season.

Look at the leading scorers in Class AAA, AA and A and all three classifications have two players from one team who are in the top four in scoring.

In Class AAA, Peters Township’s Trevor Recktenwald and Adam Alavi are No. 1 and 4, respectively, in scoring.

In Class AA, Chartiers Valley’s Cullen McMahon and Anthony Franks are 1-2 in scoring.

In Class A, Kittanning’s Hunter Grafton and Christian Miller are 1-2 in scoring.

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7-time WPIAL champion coach Spencer Stefko steps down at North Allegheny
Mike Iuzzolino takes over Sewickley Academy boys basketball program
Belle Vernon hires former Shaler, Gateway coach to lead girls basketball program