Westmoreland County high school notebook: Belle Vernon’s Zion Moore shines at summer events

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Sunday, July 2, 2023 | 3:05 PM


With his brother, Dwight Moore Jr., standing pat and clenching his teeth about 30 feet away under the basket, Zion Moore took three casual dribbles toward him, jump-hopped and went straight up.

Fully extended, he soared over his brother and threw down a one-handed slam dunk that sent the spotty crowd in the gymnasium at Jeannette High School into a momentary frenzy.

Yes, Moore, a rising junior at Belle Vernon, is having that kind of summer.

His impressive dunk, and the winning windmill that followed, earned him the title of slam dunk champion at the 3rd annual Tre Cunningham Memorial Tournament last weekend at Jeannette.

For the first time, Cunningham organizers instituted dunk and 3-point contests as a sidecar to the games.

Moore, a 6-foot-2 point guard, also led the Leopards to a 5-0 record and the tournament title, while earning Most Valuable Player honors, and the accompanying $1,000 scholarship.

“I’ve just been playing my game the best as I could,” Moore said. “Hard work is paying off, and winning MVP and the dunk contest felt great. It was a fun experience.”

The tournament performance came on the heels of a record-setting effort from Moore in his summer league.

Moore poured in 55 points for his BeeGraphix team in a Mon Valley Independent Summer Basketball League game. It is a league single-game scoring record.

“I didn’t know I had 55 points,” he said. “I thought I actually didn’t play that well. I guess my buckets were quiet. I’m not used to having quiet points”

Back to those dunks: Moore said he did not do much rehearsing for the contest at Jeannette.

To him, a dunk is just as effective as a layup.

“I don’t really practice dunking. It just happens to be something that I am blessed to be able to do,” he said. “I look at it like two points is two points, no matter what style you get it in, as long as you make the bucket.”

Moore broke onto the local scene last season after he transferred from Ringgold. He averaged 25.1 points and topped 1,000 career points in his second prep season.

“My goals this summer (include) making sure me and my teammates are ready and improve on our game getting ready for the season,” Moore said. “My biggest high school goal is keeping my grades up high and possibly winning a WPIAL or state championship.”

Hoops commitments

A pair of the top local girls basketball players in the Class of 2024 made college commitments to Division II programs on the same day.

On Friday, Penn-Trafford guard Olivia Pepple announced she will play at Gannon of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Greensburg Salem forward/center Kaitlyn Mankins, meanwhile, gave a verbal pledge to D’Youville, a school in Buffalo, N.Y., that plays in the East Coast Conference.

The 5-foot-9 Pepple averaged 16.5 points and 3.8 rebounds last season, while the 6-1 Mankins consistently produced double-doubles with averages of 14.7 points and 10.5 rebounds, while shooting better than 50% from the field.

On the tube

A pair of Westmoreland teams will get some air time this football season.

KDKA announced it will televise 10 WPIAL games on its sister station, Pittsburgh’s CW. Two games featuring local teams will be highlighted in back-to-back weeks, with Franklin Regional visiting Gateway on Sept. 15, followed by Thomas Jefferson at defending WPIAL and PIAA 3A champion Belle Vernon on Sept. 22.

The other TV games are: Blackhawk at Beaver Falls (Aug. 25), North Hills at Upper St. Clair (Sept. 1), South Fayette at Montour (Sept. 8), Pine-Richland at North Allegheny (Sept. 29), Penn Hills vs. Central Catholic (Oct. 13), Bishop Canevin vs. OLSH (Oct. 20) and Aliquippa at Central Valley (Oct. 27).

A fan vote will decide which game gets the cameras Oct. 6.

Roomies

Belle Vernon’s Maren Metikosh and Emma Henry of Greensburg Central Catholic have more in common than a spot in the Trib Westmoreland Softball All-Star Team.

The standout sluggers are both committed to play at Central Connecticut State. To take it a step further, they plan to be roommates at the Northeast Conference school.

Skyy’s the limit

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore remembers his roots.

Moore, a second-year pro and Super Bowl champion who grew up in New Kensington and attended Shady Side Academy and Western Michigan, hosted the 2nd annual Summer Slam basketball tournament Saturday.

The double-elimination tournament was held at Memorial Park in New Kensington.

The winning team received a $3,200 first prize.

There was a community kickball game, plus kids’ games.

One of the raffle items was a game-worn Moore Chiefs jersey.

Recruiting

Cara Dupilka, a rising senior at Greensburg Central Catholic, made a verbal commitment to play at Saint Vincent. Dupilka is a 5-foot-7 guard for the Centurions.

Penn-Trafford senior basketball player Lilly Palladino signed to play at Penn State Behrend. The 5-foot-10 Palladino has played shooting guard and small forward.

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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