WPIAL Boys Basketball Championship Previews

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Friday, March 1, 2013 | 2:43 AM


There are lot of familiar faces in the WPIAL boys championships this weekend and one new guy who hasn’t been to the championship party in 34 years.

All four title games are tonight and tomorrow at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center. Seven of the eight teams have been in the title game at least once in the past seven years. Six of the eight have been in a championship in the past two years.

The “new guy” is Burrell. The Bucs are in the championship for only the second time in school history and the first time since 1979. Coincidentally, Burrell played Beaver Falls in the 1979 AAA title game at the Civic Arena. Burrell and Beaver Falls meet tomorrow for the Class AA crown.

Two of the championships – Class AAAA and AAA – match teams from the same section.

Here is a look at the WPIAL boys championships this weekend:

CLASS AAAA:

The game: New Castle (25-0) vs. Hampton (21-4) at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center, Saturday at 9 p.m.

The statistics: Only one team has come within 16 points of undefeated New Castle this season. That was Hampton, which lost to New Castle, 54-50, in early February. … New Castle is second in the WPIAL in scoring at 80 points a game. … Shawn Anderson, a Naval Academy recruit, leads New Castle in scoring at 20.7 ppg, but is averaging 25 in the playoffs. Malik Hooker averages 17. … Anthony Richards and Brandon Domenick are both excellent 3-point shooters. Richards is averaging 12 ppg in the playoffs. … Hampton is led by junior guard-forward Ryan Luther, who averages 21.8 points. Sophomore forward David Huber averages 13.2. Collin Luther, Ryan’s twin brother, is a player to watch also.

What to look for: Playing New Castle close once should help the Talbots’ confidence immensely. Handling New Castle’s full-court defensive pressure is always a key, and Hampton can withstand the pressure better than most teams because of the size of the Luther twins – 6-7 Ryan and 6-6 Collin. They are both big, but both also handle the ball and their size allows them to see over traps. Hampton must defend well and not turn the ball over. Anderson is really playing well lately and could have a big game. The shooting of Domenick and Richards also will be key. Hampton needs to give its best defensive effort of the year and close out on shooters.

History lesson: It was 16 years ago that New Castle won the WPIAL title with a starting lineup that included four sophomores – David Young, Desmond Whetzel, Ed Pagley and Pat Cain. … Hampton is in a championship for the fifth time in seven years. … New Castle is trying to become the first team in WPIAL history to win two consecutive titles with an undefeated record. The Hurricanes lost one game last year, but it was in the PIAA playoffs to Montour.

CLASS AAA:

The game: Chartiers Valley (22-3) vs. Montour (21-4) at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center, tonight at 9.

The statistics: Senior guard Devin Wilson leads Montour in scoring at 16.8 pppg. Seniors Kevin Scuilli and Rob Julian are very good 3-point shooters, and Julian has shot extremely well lately, averaging 15.1 points over the past six games. Both have more than 60 3-pointers this season. … Senior guard Michael Boulos leads Chartiers Valley in scoring at 18.8 ppg. Sophomore guard Matty McConnell, the son of Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell, averages 16.9. … The teams split two games this season. Chartiers Valley won the first, 75-62, and Montour the second, 51-40.

What to look for: Chartiers Valley would like to push the ball, extend defensively and hope to score in the 70s. Montour would like to keep the ball in Devin Wilson’s hands and let him control the pace. … Montour changed from a pressing team early in the season to one that plays half-court, man-to-man defense. … 3-point shooting could be a big key because both teams have a few excellent 3-point shooters. But could the difference be Chartiers Valley’s Spencer Casson? He’s a 6-6 senior center who can impact the game with his size and shot-blocking ability. When Chartiers Valley beat Montour earlier this season, Casson had 10 points, 17 rebounds and 13 blocked shots.

History lesson: Sixteen years ago, Chartiers Valley won its first WPIAL title, defeating Blackhawk, 64-59. That Blackhawk team featured Archie Miller, who is now the head coach at Dayton. … Matty McConnell could be the third member of his immediate family to win a WPIAL. Besides his father, his older brother, T.J., won a WPIAL in 2010.

CLASS AA:

The game: Beaver Falls (22-3) vs. Burrell (19-6) at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center, Saturday at 1 p.m.

The statistics: Beaver Falls hasn’t been tested in the postseason yet, winning three games by 41, 30 and 32 points. … Elijah Cottrill, a junior guard, leads Beaver Falls in scoring at 16.5 points and senior guard Drew Cook 15.9. Cook has more than 1,000 points in his career. … Beaver Falls coach Doug Biega needs one win to reach 300 for his career. … Burrell coach Rob Niederberger is in his third season. … Pete Spagnolo leads Burrell in scoring, but Cole Bush has become a force on the inside. Bush, a 6-2 senior and a football star (will play at St. Francis, Pa.), didn’t play basketball last year. He is averaging a double double.

What to look for: Beaver Falls will try to play at a fast pace. Burrell might have a size advantage, but if Burrell’s guards don’t handle the ball well and have problems with Beaver Falls’ pressure, it could be a long night for the Bucs. Cottrill and Cook are an excellent backcourt and Burrell must stop their dribble penetration. Cottrill is getting some interest from Division I colleges. Outside shooting could be a key for Beaver Falls.

History lesson: In Burrell’s last championship apperance in 1979, the Bucs had a 54-49 had a lead on Beaver Falls with one minute left. Joey Myers had scored 22 points up until then for Burrell. But Beaver Falls scored the final six points, all by Damon Bryant, and the Tigers pulled out a 55-54 victory. Bryant was a standout guard, but Beaver Falls also featured a future NFL receiver in Dwight Collins.

 

CLASS A:

The game: Vincentian (24-1) vs. Clairton (16-6) at Duquesne’s Palumbo Center, tonight at 7.

The statistics: Vincentian leads the entire WPIAL in scoring at 83 points a game. The Royals haven’t been held below 73 points all season. … The Royals have a strong one-two punch at guard with Ryan Wolf at 21.4 points a game and Tony DiNardo at 17.7. … Clairton’s leading scorer is Bryon Clifford, who averages 18.1 a game. All of Clairton’s players were on the football team that finished this season with a 63-game winning streak. Three of them are Pitt football recruits – Terrish Webb, Tyler Boyd and Titus Howard. Boyd had six 3-pointers in the semifinals against Lincoln Park.

What to look for: Vincentian coach George Yokitis says his team plays “organized chaos.” But the Royals play the style tremendously. They don’t have much size, but they have a lot of quickness and a lot of shooters. Clairton probably wouldn’t mind seeing a fast-paced game also. Vincentian is all over the place on defense. If a team can take care of the ball, make a few passes, holes are available for easy shots. Clairton needs to shoot well from the outside again. Although Vincentian is good, isn’t it hard to go against these Clairton players? They they always seem to find a way to win.

History lesson: Twenty-three years ago, Clairton won the WPIAL Class A title with an 85-82 victory against Cornell. The 167 points in that game is the second-most ever in a championship game. Wayne Wade scored 24 points for Clairton. It is the same Wayne Wade that was Clairton’s defensive coordinator in football.

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