Westmoreland County boys basketball notebook: Franklin Regional could be headed for rematch

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Thursday, February 15, 2024 | 11:01 AM


A third meeting between neighboring districts could be on the horizon.

Franklin Regional (20-2), the No. 2 seed in WPIAL Class 5A, could face No. 7 Gateway (16-6) if the teams advance to the quarterfinals.

Both play at 7 p.m. Monday. Franklin Regional hosts No. 15 Mars (10-12), while Gateway hosts No. 10 Penn Hills (14-7).

The quarters are set for Thursday at times and sites to be announced.

Gateway is responsible for one of the Panthers’ two losses.

Franklin Regional and Gateway split during the Section 3-5A season. The Gators won the first matchup 68-58 before the Panthers returned the favor in a 49-41 win in Monroeville.

Time change

The South Park at Yough boys’ Class 3A first-round game will tip off at 8 p.m. Monday instead of 7. The change is because Yough is hosting a Class A girls first-round game between Eden Christian and Geibel at 6.

Cougar Mountain

Yough (18-4) has put together quite a two-year run by program standards.

The Cougars celebrated back-to-back section titles for the first time in program history and will host a playoff game for the second year in a row, another first.

Coach Jim Nesser and his players cut down the nets last week on Cougar Mountain, but the team wants more after reaching the quarterfinals last year. After beating Burrell at home (46-26), the Cougars lost to Neshannock (53-49).

Yough went 1-1 in the consolation bracket to make the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2005, where it lost to Penn Cambria, 61-53.

On point

Four local players continue to climb their school’s scoring list.

Yough senior Terek Crosby is up to 1,925 career points, which ranks second all time at the school to Cougars great Ben McCauley, who scored 2,283.

Crosby is trying to become the first Westmoreland County player since Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor to score 2,000.

Three other players have surpassed 1,500 points: senior Ty Keffer of Southmoreland (1,564), junior Zion Moore of Belle Vernon (1,563) and senior Lorenzo Gardner of Monessen (1,558).

Keffer is second in Scotties history behind Eric Roslonski (2,192).

Gardner, who had a 64-point game last week, ranks third on the Greyhounds’ boys list behind A.J. Jackson (1,757) and Jaden Altomore (1,593).

Moore, who clinched the WPIAL’s regular-season scoring title (26.3 ppg), played at Ringgold as a freshmen, so 1,157 points have come at Belle Vernon. He also recently broke the school record for 3-pointers in a season with 68.

Cam Nusser set the mark at 64 in 2020.

Wildcats aim for rebound

Latrobe has missed the WPIAL playoffs three years in a row, but longtime coach Brad Wetzel isn’t asking for sympathy.

He thinks his program took a step forward, despite the missing exclamation point.

“I think we did,” Wetzel said. “Failure is only failure if we hadn’t gotten anywhere. But I think our guys continued to improve and rise. It’s a painful lesson, for sure. I wish there was a playoff trip for our seniors.

“I think next year could be something special.”

Latrobe (8-13, 3-7 Section 3-5A) will lose only two seniors — Ja’Tawn Williams and Quardarius Davis — but is primed to bring back three starters: current juniors John Wetzel, Max Butler and Kyle McNeil, along with key reserve Ian DeCerb, a sophomore.

On the side

Two individuals with connections to the area have helped a team from Allegheny County reach the playoffs.

Senior guard Eli Teslovich and assistant coach Buddy Valinsky are with Shady Side Academy (15-7), the No. 3 seed in 3A.

Teslovich, who leads the Indians in scoring with a 20-point average, is from Belle Vernon.

Valinsky coached the Norwin boys for two seasons (2019-21) after 12 successful seasons at Allderdice, where he won six City League championships.

State playoffs

The WPIAL playoffs are just getting started, but it’s never too early to look at the PIAA brackets.

The WPIAL will send the following number of teams to the state tournaments this season after they play for positioning in the consolation brackets: three in Class 6A, seven in 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A and five in A.

Teams that lose in the WPIAL quarterfinals and semifinals will play back in the consolation rounds.

Layups

Greensburg Central Catholic is the lone local team in the TribLive HSSN state rankings. The Centurions are rated No. 5 in 2A. … Belle Vernon-South Allegheny and South Park-Yough are rematches from the regular season. South Allegheny won 59-58 in the season opener. Yough won 51-41. … Derry and Mt. Pleasant could meet in the 3A quarterfinals. … Penn-Trafford and Kiski Area, Section 3-5A foes, could play in the quarterfinals.

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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