Westmoreland boys basketball notebook: Home welcome for Greensburg CC

Thursday, January 9, 2020 | 7:10 PM

Playing at home has its advantages.

Not playing at home for an extended period can be a real pain.

Greensburg Central Catholic would know. The Centurions were 10 games into the regular season — nearly at the halfway point — before they finally played at home.

GCC (7-3, 4-0 Section 3-A) defeated Propel Andrew Street, 65-42, on Tuesday night. Another Propel, Propel Montour, was scheduled to be the Centurions’ home opener Dec. 17 but asked to postpone the game because of a shortage of players.

GCC already had a light home schedule to that point, but the postponement amplified that point.

“It’s definitely a little strange,” said GCC first-year coach Christian Hyland, a previous assistant with the program. “We normally aren’t a team that has a ton of home games because we’ll travel for tournaments and shootouts, but not to have one for the first month of the season is unusual for any team. I don’t think we necessarily need it. Our guys play hard regardless of the trip, but it’s nice to finally have one here to have our families and fans in our own gym cheering us on.”

A backloaded home schedule will give fans a chance to see more of the Centurions in their home gym. GCC plays five of their final 10 games in Carbon.

Walker returns

Norwin junior Jayden Walker made his season debut Tuesday night at Fox Chapel.

The 6-foot-4 forward gives the Knights frontcourt an instant boost.

Walker missed the first month of the season after shoulder surgery in June. Also a standout left-handed pitcher, Walker had five points and six rebounds in about 24 minutes in the 63-48 loss to the Foxes.

“We’re very excited to have him back,” Norwin coach Buddy Valinsky said. “Hopefully Friday I will have a full team for the first time all year. Injuries and the flu have hurt us.”

Norwin (8-3, 0-3) hosts Latrobe (3-7, 1-2) on Friday night.

Parsons hits milestone

Greensburg Salem senior guard Dante Parsons reached the 1,000-point milestone Tuesday night.

He needed 12 points and scored 13 to put him at 1,001.

No. 1,000 came on a free throw in overtime, the Golden Lions’ 41st point in a 46-43 loss to visiting Gateway.

Greensburg Salem’s other 1,000-point scorers are: Charles Dawson (2002) 1,785; Jason Trout (1993) 1,601; Chris Klimchock (’09) 1,455; Rak Hetherington (’89) 1,400; Paul Grubb (’83) 1,387; Nolan Larry (’99) 1,352; Paul Matthews (’07) 1,320; Jake Matthews (’10) 1,239; Marvel McGowan (’18) 1,225; Ray Greene (’67) 1,209; and Aaron Allen (’08) 1,118.

Free throw fun

Free-throw shooting can be a monotonous task in practices, unless you play for Penn-Trafford.

The Warriors have fun at the charity stripe with “free throw golf.”

“It makes it interesting because the kids have something to play for,” Warriors coach Jim Rocco said. “We make it a game.”

For example, a swish is a birdie. A swish with your eyes closed is an eagle.

“We keep a leaderboard,” Rocco said. “The kids have to have the right demeanor to get he most out of it. I tell them to picture some of the courses in the area, like Meadowink or Hannastown.”

The Warriors know the value of free throws. They made 28 of 35 on Tuesday in a 65-57 win over Hempfield. Senior guard Zach Rocco was 17 of 19 from the line and scored 34 points.

Jeannette bounces back

Jeannette started the season with one win in its first eight games, but the Jayhawks have rebounded nicely as Section 2-2A play has begun to ramp up.

Jeannette has won five in a row to pull even at 6-6 and is 3-1 in section, in third place behind Brentwood (10-0, 5-0) and Serra Catholic (6-5, 4-0).

The Jayhawks host Serra on Tuesday night.

100 for “Espo”

Derry coach Tom Esposito earned his 100th win with the Trojans (4-7) on Tuesday in a 64-49 victory over Yough. Esposito is in his 13th season at Derry, over two stints.

Last season, he guided Derry to its first WPIAL playoff appearance since 2007-08.

Esposito also coached five seasons at Homer-Center, where he went 62-55, so his career record stands at 162-168.

Big game hunting

Section 3-6A never cheats the fans, and Friday night won’t be an exception. Top games include Connellsville at Hempfield, Penn-Trafford at No. 1 Fox Chapel and Latrobe at Norwin.

Other area games of note include Greensburg Salem at Laurel Highlands in Section 1-5A; Shaler at Franklin Regional in Section 3-5A; Derry at Knoch, Freeport at Yough and Mt. Pleasant at No. 1 Highlands in Section 1-4A; Ringgold at Belle Vernon in Section 3-4A; Jeannette at California in Section 2-AA; and Greensburg Central Catholic at Imani Christian in Section 3-A.

Some notables:

• Connellsville is the alma mater of Hempfield coach Bill Swan.

• Greensburg Salem’s Parsons and freshman phenom Rodney Gallagher of Laurel Highlands are two of the top scorers in WPIAL Class 5A.

• Freeport coach Wayne Greiser used to coach Yough.

• GCC-Imani is for first place.

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

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