Westmoreland County basketball notebook: Teams jumping right into section play

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 | 6:09 PM

A number of local basketball teams will take to the court Friday night and finally open the season after the state’s three-week shutdown of winter sports ended earlier this week.

Many teams will jump right into section play. Hempfield, for example, will host Fox Chapel in a boys Section 3 opener, while Latrobe visits Franklin Regional in the first Section 3-5A game for both teams.

Norwin plays at Central Catholic in another Section 3-6A game, while Ligonier Valley opens WPIAL play at Valley after moving in from District 6, and Uniontown visits Belle Vernon (0-1).

On the girls side, Franklin Regional plays at Latrobe in Section 4-5A, Penn-Trafford (1-0) travels to Pine-Richland for its Class 6A debut, also a Section 1 game, and Belle Vernon plays at McKeesport in nonsection action.

Each school can decide how many fans can attend games. State-issued guidelines have set percentage limits for indoor gatherings. Some schools are allowing only parents of players on the home team, while others are not permitting spectators at all.

Pulling rank

Seven Westmoreland teams start the season trying to hold down spots in the Tribune-Review rankings.

Belle Vernon (0-1) opened No. 3 in Class 4A, while Jeannette is No. 3 and Monessen is No. 5 in Class 2A, and Ligonier Valley checks in fifth in 3A.

For the girls, Southmoreland is No. 1 in 4A after reaching the WPIAL final last year, Norwin is No. 4 in 6A and Greensburg Central Catholic is No. 5 in 2A.

Games in question

At least two games could be affected by conflicting mask guidelines.

Derry is scheduled to play at Deer Lakes Monday (girls) and Tuesday (boys). The host Lancers require masks to be worn during competition.

It is not mandatory for players in the Derry school district to wear masks on the court.

Home teams can request visiting teams wear masks.

Tom Esposito, the Derry boys coach, said the schools are discussing a solution.

If they cannot come to terms, the Section 1-4A games could become “no contests” where neither team would get a win or loss and no forfeit would be recorded.

The Derry boys do not have another game scheduled until Jan. 18.

Harrell coaching

Former Hempfield star Kason Harrell is going to give coaching a try this season.

Harrell, the Spartans’ all-time scoring leader, is the new head coach of the boys freshman team at Greensburg Central Catholic.

He has been working with players in recent months, helping as a trainer with Gym Rat Performance Training in Pittsburgh. The former Fort Wayne standout recently played professionally with the Killester Basketball Club, Team Pyrobel, in Dublin, Ireland.

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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