Westmoreland County boys basketball notebook: Greensburg Central Catholic coaching tree blossoms

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | 5:26 PM

Dr. Greg Bisignani stepped down at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season as boys basketball coach at Greensburg Central Catholic after eight seasons.

When he did, he was essentially passing the torch to his protege and former player, Christian Hyland.

Two years later, another one of his former Centurions also joined the coaching ranks when Jesse Reed took over at Franklin Regional.

Now, Hyland and Reed have led their teams to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Both GCC and Franklin Regional are 21-2.

Hyland is in his fifth season, Reed his third.

“They were both point guards for me and I’ve always thought point guards make the best coaches,” said Bisignani, a longtime orthopedic surgeon in the area. “They know all of the positions, where guys are supposed to go and all the plays. Guys like that are contagious with their energy and leadership.”

GCC made the WPIAL finals on separate occasions with both Hyland and Reed guiding the offense, including a PIAA finals appearance with Reed in 2011.

Hyland said Bisignani has had an influence on his coaching.

“My dad is probably who got me thinking about coaching first,” Hyland said of his father, Denny, an assistant at GCC. “He was a grade-school coach (at Penn-Trafford), so I saw him coach when I was in middle school. He coached us in AAU.

“Bis had an influence. I probably see it most in prep. He was big into scouting and watched a ton of film. I am the same way.”

Reed, who also played at Saltsburg and later The Kiski School, was a 1,000-point career scorer and a Division I player at American.

“Seeing them have success,” Bisignani said, “it makes me feel like a proud dad.”

Hyland made the WPIAL finals in his second season as a coach. Reed is trying to guide the Panthers to their first finals trip since 2017-18.

Hyland was on WPIAL finals teams as a player and coach.

“It’s hard to believe that, as good as this program has been,” Hyland said, “we haven’t won a WPIAL title. That’s a big motivating factor for us.”

Reed said Bisignani and former GCC assistant Bill Swan impacted his coaching prospects.

“Coach Bis and coach Swan have been huge influences on my career,” Reed said. “I’ve gone to them numerous times for advice and think back to the relationship I had with them while I was a player.”

The Bisignani coaching tree also includes a pair of Hyland’s former teammates in Colin Bisigani, the former coach’s son, and Brian Graytok.

The younger Bisignani is an assistant at Hempfield on Swan’s staff.

Graytok was an assistant briefly at GCC before taking a break from coaching.

Ty Swan, who also played at GCC, was an assistant with his father, Bill, at Hempfield.

Dr. Bisignani’s daughters also dabbled in coaching. Leah, a standout volleyball player at GCC and Seton Hill, coached club volleyball at Ohio State.

Mikayla Bisignani, a former standout swimmer at Johns Hopkins, helped coach the Carnegie Mellon swim team.

“The best coaches are often the best teachers,” Greg Bisignani said.

We meet again

Franklin Regional and Gateway will play for a third time Thursday night, this time in the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals.

The second-seeded Panthers (21-2) face the No. 7 Gators (17-6) at 8 p.m. at Norwin.

The first game of the doubleheader features Class 6A girls No. 1 seed Norwin (18-3) hosting No. 8 Seneca Valley (12-10) at 6.

Franklin Regional and Gateway split during the Section 3 season, with each winning on the other’s home floor.

“We know each other amazingly well and we’re two teams that are ready to compete at a high level,” Reed said. “This will be the toughest game of the season for us, thus far. We’re expecting a good crowd and a fun atmosphere for all the players.”

Franklin Regional has never won a WPIAL title in boys basketball. Gateway has two titles, in 2011 and ‘12.

Familiar foes

Another year, another GCC-Eden Christian matchup in the postseason.

GCC (21-2), the No. 2 seed in 2A, will face Eden (12-10) for a third time in five years in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Eden won in Hyland’s first year as coach. GCC won last year in the quarters.

“They shoot a ton of 3s off the dribble-drive,” Hyland said. “We have to be ready for that. We know them from last year.”

Eden is coached by former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith.

Moving up

Monessen senior guard Lorenzo Gardner is moving closer to the top spot on his school’s boys scoring list.

With 1,602 points going into Wednesday’s quarterfinals, Gardner, who had a 64-point game last week, ranked second on the Greyhounds’ list behind A.J. Jackson (1,757).

Derry aisle

Derry, the No. 12 seed in 3A, delivered the first bracket buster of the boys postseason by upsetting No. 5 seed Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 54-53.

It was the first playoff win in the first round for the Trojans in program history. Derry beat Southmoreland in the preliminary round in 2020-21 for the team’s inaugural postseason win.

“Our defensive effort was outstanding when it needed to be,” Derry coach Tom Esposito told the Westmoreland Sports Network. “We had one more point than them and that’s all that counts. To beat a program like OLSH … this game is for every team that I ever coached at Derry.”

Brown plays

Jeannette sophomore guard Kymone Brown sustained an injury in a pre-playoff scrimmage against Monessen and was questionable for Tuesday’s 2A first-round matchup against Sewickley Academy.

Not only did Brown play, but he led the Jayhawks with 17 points in a 52-47 win at home.

40 piece

Eli Teslovich, a senior guard at Shady Side Academy who is from Belle Vernon, scored 40 points in the Bulldogs’ 79-62 win over Beaver Falls in the WPIAL 3A first round.

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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