Trib HSSN 2020-21 WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball preseason breakdown

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Thursday, December 10, 2020 | 12:14 AM


This will surely be a boys basketball season like no other.

WPIAL teams are set to tip off Friday and embark on a masked journey through a schedule likely to change many times as the year progresses.

Teams all have hopes of hoisting a WPIAL championship trophy in March, much like last year’s boys basketball champions — Butler (Class 6A), Laurel Highlands (5A), Highlands (4A), North Catholic (3A), OLSH (2A) and Vincentian Academy (A).

Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class 2A boys basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here to see Class 6A, Class 5A, Class 4A and Class 3A.

WPIAL Class 2A

Preseason Player of the Year

Jake DiMichele

OLSH

6-3, Jr., G, 29.0 ppg

Players to watch

Dante Spadafora

OLSH

5-11, Sr., G, 21.8 ppg

Demitri Fritch

6-4, Sr., G, 24.7 ppg

Max Belt

Sewickley Academy

6-2, Sr., G, 16.8 ppg

Don Napper

Clairton

6-4, Sr., G, 16.9

Christian McGowan

Greensburg Central Catholic

6-0, Sr., G, 14.5

Preseason Top 5

1. OLSH (26-1 last season)

Featuring perhaps the most dynamic scoring duo in the WPIAL in DeMichele and Spadafora, the two-time defending WPIAL champion Chargers have to be considered the prohibitive favorite in Class 2A. Their only loss last season was in overtime at Aliquippa and they looked to be on track for a state title when the pandemic shut things down in March. Still, there’s plenty of work for them to do. OLSH will have to fit the complementary pieces together around DeMichele and Spadafora, and Section 1 is loaded with landmines.

2. Springdale (20-4)

One such landmine is Springdale. A battle between the Chargers and Dynamos for a Section 1 title should be one of the season’s most anticipated matchups. Springdale returns all five starters, including Fritch, one of the WPIAL’s most prolific scorers, and junior Logan Dexter, a 16-point-per-game performer last season. Springdale has put together a difficult nonsection schedule to be as ready as possible for the postseason.

3. Jeannette (15-8)

The Jayhawks had an interesting season last year, getting off to a 1-6 start before reeling off 10 straight wins. The lessons learned won’t be lost on this year’s squad, as four starters return. Keith Rockmore and Anton Good are the top returning scorers, Toby Cline is a defensive stopper at point guard and Hunter Schmidt is a 6-foot-9 presence in the paint.

4. Sto-Rox (20-7)

The Vikings are coming off an excellent season, pushing OLSH to the limit in the WPIAL finals and advancing to the PIAA quarterfinals before the tournament was shut down. They were a senior-laden group, so there’s been significant roster turnover, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism. A talented roster, led by junior guard Corey Simmons, returns, and successful former Aliquippa coach Dwight Hines was hired in August.

5. Monessen (10-13)

It wouldn’t be wise to overlook Monessen in a wide-open Section 4. The Greyhounds have only one returning starter, 6-foot senior Chas Mrlack, but they’ve made the playoffs a record 39 consecutive seasons. Monessen started last season losing eight of nine during a difficult nonsection stretch, then rallied to go 9-3 in section play. Expect a similar progression this year.

Notable

• Shenango is a team to watch in Section 1 alongside OLSH and Springdale. Colin McQuiston has moved on to Slippery Rock, but football standout Reis Watkins leads a talented group. Sewickley Academy should be in the Section 1 mix as well, led by Belt and George Zheng.

• Dropping down after going 14-8 in Class 3A last season, Carlynton is a team to watch in Section 2. The Cougars lost a lot of talent, but Khalil Kerr leads a strong group of returners.

• In a situation Clairton has grown familiar with in recent years, Jeannette could probably use some rest after several key players went on a long playoff run with the football team. The PIAA football finals were earlier than usual this year, so that should help. The Bears and Jayhawks should be joined by Greensburg Central Catholic in the Section 3 title chase.

• California will have to replace star scorer Malik Ramsey, but the Trojans should be contenders in Section 4. Led by guard Christopher Barrish, Carmichaels will be formidable as well.

• Langston Moses would have been a player to watch in Class 2A this season, but the junior scorer transferred from Winchester Thurston to Central Catholic.

2020-21 Alignment

Section 1: OLSH, Riverview, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side, Springdale

Section 2: Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Northgate, Sto-Rox

Section 3: Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Propel Braddock Hills, Serra Catholic, Winchester Thurston

Section 4: Bentworth, California, Carmichaels, Frazier, Jefferson-Morgan, Monessen

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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