Westmoreland County boys basketball notebook: Scorpion’s road to recovery stops at Franklin Regional

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Thursday, December 15, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Former Franklin Regional boys basketball coach Steve Scorpion is coming back to coach against his old team.

That he is coming back at all is borderline miraculous.

Scorpion’s position was opened in spring 2021 after his longtime opioid addiction came to light.

The final straw was a blackout episode that nearly claimed his life. He crashed his car on Route 22 after nodding off at the wheel.

It cost him his job as a coach and teacher.

But things are starting to return to normal for Scorpion. He is now an assistant with the Woodland Hills boys, who are coached by Eugene Wilson, his former college teammate at Pitt-Johnstown.

Woodland Hills will play at Franklin Regional on Tuesday in a nonsection game.

Scorpion, 39, was at Franklin Regional to scout the Panthers during the Mike Rettger Tournament last week in Murrysville.

“It’s going to be strange,” Scorpion said of coaching against the Panthers, whom he guided to a 53-34 mark in four seasons, including four WPIAL playoff trips, two PIAA appearances and a WPIAL Class 5A runner-up finish in 2017-18. “I have never even been in the (visitors’) locker room, not even when I played here.

“It’s just another game … I believed it could happen. I prayed it could happen. I knew I would get back. I just didn’t know when. I am on God’s time, not mine.”

Quick to point out that he had been “totally sober” for 19 months and eight days (as of Dec. 9), Scorpion is now a health and physical education teacher at Young Scholars of Western PA Charter School in Pittsburgh.

He is getting married to his longtime girlfriend, Marissa D’Altorio, this weekend.

The couple has three young sons.

Scorpion, who overdosed twice on the day he crashed in April 2021, checked into Recovery Centers of America in Monroeville for a 30-day stint where he found his way back to health and focus.

“Everything is great now,” Scorpion said. “I know how blessed I am. I don’t take anything for granted.”

Scorpion is the grandson of former Pittsburgh Pirates great Dick Groat.

Norwin welcomes LH

A matchup to watch Friday has Laurel Highlands visiting Norwin.

Both teams are unbeaten and feature talented guards who are fun to watch.

Laurel Highlands (4-0), the No. 1-ranked team in Class 4A, has standout senior Rodney Gallagher, a West Virginia football commit. He has led the Mustangs to two WPIAL titles, including a 5A title last year.

Norwin (5-0) has 6-3 senior Adam Bilinsky, who will play at Division II Mercyhurst.

Laurel Highlands is averaging 71.8 points a game. Norwin is allowing 42.

In the clutch

Monessen is developing a knack for winning tight games. The Greyhounds’ last two games were decided by a total of three points.

After a 55-53 win over Burrell at the WCCA Showcase last weekend, Monessen eked past Carmichaels, 61-60, on Tuesday.

Top scorer Lorenzo Gardner hit a layup, drew a foul and made the free throw with 1.5 seconds remaining for the win.

Harrell coaching

Former Hempfield star-turned-pro Kason Harrell is working as an assistant coach this season with Yough.

Harrell had signed to continue his professional career in Cyprus, an island country in the Mediterranean Sea, but he opted to forego those plans and stay home — for now.

“I just wanted to take a break,” Harrell said. “I want to stay active in basketball, and I want to coach, so this is a good opportunity for me.”

Harrell, who played in Ireland last year and had a 56-point game, can work with the Cougars guards, including standout junior Terek Crosby.

“He has always been part of our family,” Yough coach Jim Nesser said. “He brings a different perspective to our guys. It’s great to have him here.”

Section openers

WPIAL section play begins Friday night for some teams. Matchups include Brownsville at Yough (Section 4-3A), Deer Lakes at Ligonier Valley (3-3A), Burrell at Shady Side Academy (3-3A), Greensburg Central Catholic at Riverview (3-2A) and Jeannette at Serra Catholic (3-2A).

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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