Westmoreland County boys basketball notebook: Cavalry arrives for Belle Vernon

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Thursday, December 22, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Now that its basketball team is back to full strength, can Belle Vernon make a run at football and basketball titles?

The Leopards have eight players back from the football team that won WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A championships. Three are starters: Quinton Martin, the returning Trib Westmoreland player of the year, Braden Laux and Alonzo Wade.

Those players are looking to mesh with Ringgold transfer Zion Moore, who has been one of the top scorers in the WPIAL.

The basketball Leopards went 20-5 last season and reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA second round.

This year’s team started 1-4. The football players made their season debut Tuesday against McKeesport, and the Leopards looked dominant, winning 98-73. Martin, in his season debut, had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Wade scored 18.

Moore led all scorers with 36. He is averaging 29.3 points.

Holiday tourneys

Christmas music, family gatherings, eggnog and … basketball tournaments.

It’s all part of holiday time in the WPIAL.

Greensburg Salem is the hub site for Westmoreland County fans. It will host a two-day tournament Wednesday and Thursday.

On Wednesday, the schedule is Jeannette vs. Yough at 2 p.m.; Bishop Guilfoyle vs. Greensburg Central Catholic at 4, Hempfield vs. Connellsville at 6 and Greensburg Salem vs. Mt. Pleasant at 8.

Franklin Regional will play in the three-day Holiday Bash on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at North Allegheny and Butler.

The Panthers will play the host Tigers at North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday before facing Plum at 3 p.m. Friday at Butler.

LH-Norwin make-up

Laurel Highlands and standout Rodney Gallagher were scheduled to play at Norwin last Friday for an anticipated nonsection game, but the game was postponed because several players had the flu. The game now will be played at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Norwin.

Chasing Pipkins

Aquinas Academy senior Vinnie Cugini is quietly gaining traction on WPIAL all-time scoring leader Tom Pipkins, who played at Valley.

Pipkins’ record of 2,838 points has stood since 1993.

Cugini, who had a 40-point average through five games this season, had 2,285 for his career.

A Pitt-Johnstown commit, Cugini is tied for 12th on the WPIAL list with Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor.

Layups

Norwin (5-0) and New Castle (4-0) were the only unbeaten teams in WPIAL Class 6A at the start of the week. … Seven games into the season, Derry was the highest-scoring team in WPIAL Class 3A at 66.6 points a game. … Jeannette and Monessen are the only Westmoreland teams ranked by TribLive HSSN. Jeannette moved into the No. 5 spot in Class 2A, and Monessen remained No. 4 in Class A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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