Westmoreland notebook: Franklin Regional’s Jackson taking talents to Miami
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Saturday, December 15, 2018 | 6:24 PM
Franklin Regional senior golfer Palmer Jackson had a summer and fall to remember as he qualified for various high-level events at some of the top courses in the country.
His All-American tour continues this week in Florida — with more global flavor — as he plays in the prestigious South Beach International Amateur.
The tournament is set for Wednesday through Saturday at Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores Golf Course.
“It’s the fifth-ranked amateur tournament in the world,” Franklin Regional golf coach Jeff Traphagen said. “Palmer earned his way into the field. It’s a pretty big event.”
Jackson, the PIAA Class AAA champion, met a number of qualifying requirements to get into the tournament, including playing in the USGA Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur, as well as his standing as a Division I commit. Jackson is headed to Notre Dame.
He played Pebble Beach for the U.S. Amateur, Baltusrol for the U.S. Junior Amateur, Valhalla for the Junior PGA Championship and Oakmont for the WPIAL championship.
Now comes Miami Beach for a 72-hole event that again will match Jackson against some of the top amateur players.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “I have nothing to lose. It’ll be fun because a lot of those guys have different styles of play than Americans do because of weather, terrain and things like that.”
New No. 1
High-scoring Latrobe is the Tribune-Review’s new No. 1-ranked boys basketball team in WPIAL Class 6A. The Wildcats (5-0), averaging more than 80 points, moved ahead of Pine-Richland (2-2), which fell to No. 4.
Butler is No. 2, Upper St. Clair No. 3 and Mt. Lebanon No. 5.
Mort leaving early
Greensburg Central Catholic soccer standout Luke Mort will sign with Pitt on Tuesday and graduate high school Thursday. Mort said Pitt coaches said he could begin training right away.
“To start getting used to the ACC level of play,” Mort said. “I thought it was a good opportunity to get in there and play at the highest level possible right away, so I’m ready for the fall.”
Mort said the leg injury he suffered during the PIAA postseason is healing, and he hopes to begin jogging again soon.
“The goal is to be cleared to scrimmage and start playing mid-January,” he said.
Fifth-ranked Franklin Regional (4-0) and No. 1 Mars (3-0) are Section 3-5A opponents in boys basketball this season after meeting in the WPIAL championship last March.
Mars won the title game 55-44 as Franklin Regional’s offense faded late. The teams meet again Monday in Murrysville in the first of two section meetings, and the Panthers hope for a measure of payback.
“We were looking forward to another shot at Mars,” said Panthers senior guard Nick Leopold, who leads the team in scoring at 15 points per game. “We have played well early … now things get real.”
The game is Monday to accommodate Mars’ schedule. The Planets are playing in a tournament in Las Vegas beginning Wednesday.
Mars is led by senior point guard Andrew Recchia and 6-foot-6 junior forward Michael Carmody.
The Norwin boys basketball team has seen an uptick in play from a trio of sophomores, each of whom has provided double-digit scoring early in the season.
Jayden Walker, Ty Bilinsky and Nick Fleming have played valuable minutes, which will benefit them down the road but is helping the Knights now.
“They’re young, but they are getting better,” coach Lynn Washowich said. “We didn’t expect some of the scoring from them, so it’s been a pleasant surprise.”
Bilinsky is the son of Mt. Pleasant boys basketball coach and athletic director Allan Bilinsky, a former two-sport standout at Norwin.
Southmoreland boys basketball coach Frank Muccino had been reminding his players about last year’s 81-33 loss to Yough for months. His jabs were subtle, and so were his text messages as the Scotties awaited a rematch with the Cougars on Friday.
“I kept texting them, ‘Yough by 70,’ ” Muccino said. “They ran us off the floor last year.”
The verbal bulletin-board material worked: Southmoreland won at Yough, 60-55.
The Scotties (2-2) opened the season with a 66-63 win over Mt. Pleasant to break a 10-game losing streak.
Wednesday marks National Signing Day for Division I football players. The NCAA started the earlier signing period last year.
Local players expected to sign include Latrobe’s Trent Holler (East Carolina), Norwin’s Gianni Rizzo and Jayvon Thrift (both Youngstown State), Jeannette’s Marcus Barnes (William & Mary) and Ligonier Valley’s Aaron Tutino (St. Francis, Pa.).
Belle Vernon senior lineman Anthony Rebar picked up Division II offers from Edinboro and Slippery Rock. … Franklin Regional soccer player Matt Kimmich will play at Grove City.
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at email@example.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.