Westmoreland boys basketball notebook: Greensburg Salem, Franklin Regional affected by shutdowns

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Thursday, January 28, 2021 | 6:04 PM


Greensburg Salem is the only active boys basketball team in the WPIAL that has not played a game this season.

Summit Academy also is 0-0 but opted to forego the season.

All told, Greensburg Salem has lost 27 days to covid-19 shutdowns, including the mandatory three-week pause of high school sports directed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

A recent 10-day interruption because of contact tracing in the program ended Wednesday when the team returned to practice.

The Golden Lions are set to host Jeannette at noon Saturday for a nonsection game.

“I’m eager to see what it’s going to look like on Saturday,” Greensburg Salem coach Mark Zahorchak said. “Other than the kids not having their wind completely back (Wednesday), it was a pretty good (practice). They had a lot of energy and were excited to be back.”

Another layer to the starting and stopping of this season for Greensburg Salem is the program is trying to get off the ground in Class 6A. This is the team’s first year in the WPIAL’s largest classification.

But that storyline seems secondary to simply having a chance to put on a uniform for something other than picture day.

“We’ve been telling the kids to appreciate every chance we get to be on the floor,” Zahorchak said, “whether it be a practice or a game — and to just have fun.”

FR paused

Franklin Regional is the latest to pause team activities because of covid-19 contact tracing. The Panthers (4-1, 4-0), who are the Section 3-5A leaders, shut down recently to quarantine.

They can return to practice Feb. 3 after a 10-day stoppage.

The Panthers’ first game back is scheduled for Feb. 6 at North Hills.

Whitlock-ed in

Belle Vernon junior guard Devin Whitlock might not be the tallest player in the WPIAL — he is listed at 5-foot-9 — but he is one of the most complete.

The reigning Tribune-Review Westmoreland Player of the Year is living up to the hype.

His recent performance against Yough in a run-and-gun section game might have been one of his best. He narrowly missed a quadruple-double, posting 24 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and nine steals as Belle Vernon, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, won, 87-71.

“It was a fun game,” Whitlock said. “We started slow, but we showed what we could do once we got going.”

Grinding it out

Hempfield is ranked fifth in Class 6A, but the Spartans (4-2) aren’t blowing teams out. They are finding ways to win.

Three of their victories are by three points or less. They clipped Penn-Trafford, 54-51, sneaked past Norwin, 51-50, and barely outran Latrobe, 71-68, in overtime.

“We’ll take it,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “We are very happy finding ways. All gutsy wins. We’re just glad to be able to play the game we love.”

The Spartans, who rely on balanced scoring and team defense, also have a 73-70 loss to top-ranked Upper St. Clair.

Hempfield hosts Norwin on Friday night.

Stanford coaching

Corey Stanford used to play against Woodland Hills. The former Penn-Trafford standout guard once had a 26-point game against the Wolverines.

But these days Stanford is coaching his former opponent, with an elevated role of late.

Stanford and another assistant, Eric Jefferson, were made co-head coaches at Woodland Hills after the sudden resignation of Matt Furjanic, the former Pitt-Greensburg coach.

Stanford played at Catholic University and The College of New Jersey when his high school career was finished at Penn-Trafford.

Woodland Hills athletic director Ron Coursey said the district will address the head coaching vacancy in the offseason, which means Jefferson and Stanford will finish the year in charge of the program.

Jefferson also was a talented player in the late 1970s. He played at Northeastern under future Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun after a high school career at St. Anselm in Swissvale.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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