Westmoreland notebook: GCC’s Helm ‘can’t wait to be a Raider’

Sunday, October 28, 2018 | 7:09 PM

Geoff Helm will be one of the top returning basketball players in Westmoreland County this season, and now that the Greensburg Central Catholic senior has settled on a college, he can focus on leading the Centurions back to the playoffs.

Helm gave a verbal commitment to Shippensburg, turning down other Division II offers from Seton Hill and West Liberty, and several Division III opportunities, including Allegheny and Juniata.

Helm averaged 17.5 points last season, but GCC missed the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in 17 years.

“What made me pick Shippensburg was their basketball program has been very successful in recent years,” Helm said. “And as soon as I walked on campus, I could see myself being a part of their team and university. I also felt really comfortable talking and interacting with the coaches and players on the team.

“I can’t wait to be a Raider.”

The Raiders, coached by Latrobe graduate Chris Fite, have had three consecutive 20-plus-win seasons. The last two seasons they finished 25-8 and 27-4, both ending in the NCAA Atlantic Regional round of the postseason.

Helm, a Blairsville resident, said his plan was to commit before his final high school season.

“I have been talking to them for some time now,” he said. “After visiting and talking to all of the colleges that were recruiting me, nothing compared to how confident I felt with Shippensburg.”

All-America watch

Six of the WPIAL’s best soccer players, including two from Westmoreland, are up for the nation’s premier all-star game.

The senior players are among the finalists on a season-long watchlist for the fall High School All-American games, set for Dec. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

Organizers said final selections will be made at the end of the month.

The WPIAL nominees for the boys game are: forward Markello Apodiakos of Belle Vernon; midfielder Nathan Dragisich of West Allegheny; and forward Tate Mohney of Butler.

Girls candidates are: defender Maddy Genicola of Norwin; and midfielders Krystyna Rytel of Shady Side Academy; and Regan LaVigna of Peters Township.

Dragisich is a Duquesne commit. Rytel is headed to Pitt.

Genicola, a Duquesne recruit, and LaVigna, who committed to Youngstown State, will face each other Saturday in the WPIAL 4A semifinals.

GCC-SSA … again

Either Greensburg Central Catholic or Shady Side Academy have won every WPIAL Class A girls soccer championship since 2010. But with both teams losing in the semifinals Saturday, that trend will change.

As the playoff format would have it, though, the rivals still get to meet again in the postseason.

GCC (12-3) will play Shady Side (11-4) in the WPIAL third-place game Tuesday with a PIAA playoff berth on the line.

The teams have met 10 times in the postseason since the pilot light was ignited on their rivalry in 2010. GCC is 6-4 in those games, but Shady Side has won three of the last four. The Centurions and Indians split their Section 1 series, 1-1.

Norwin in finals

Norwin’s boys soccer team will try to advance out of the semifinal round Monday night. The Knights last made the WPIAL finals in 1989 when they lost to Mt. Lebanon, 1-0.

Volleyball honors

A few local players were recognized as Western PA Volleyball Coaches Association players of the week. They are senior Beth Havrilla of Latrobe in Class 4A; and sophomore Ally Kindleberger of Franklin Regional and senior Kara Uhlinger of Greensburg Salem in 3A.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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