WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball preseason breakdown

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019 | 5:25 PM


A new decade of WPIAL boys basketball tips off next weekend.

Preparing to defend their district championships from a year ago are Mt. Lebanon (6A), Mars (5A), New Castle (4A), Lincoln Park (3A), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (2A) and Nazareth Prep (A).

New Castle is looking for a fourth straight WPIAL crown while Mars and Lincoln Park are shooting for a three-peat in 2020.

Also last year, Moon won a PIAA title in Class 5A and Lincoln Park won state gold in 3A.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class 2A boys basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here to check out Class 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A previews.

Class 2A boys basketball

Preseason Player of the Year

Malik Ramsey

California

6-4, senior, guard

26.2 ppg in 2018-19

Players to watch

Demetri Fritch

Springdale

6-1, Jr., G, 16.0 ppg

Colin McQuiston

Shenango

6-0, Sr., G, 20.6 ppg

Jackson Pruitt

Jeannette

6-1, Sr., G, 10.0 ppg

Dante Spadafora

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

6-0, Jr., PG, 9.0 ppg

C.J. Ziegler

Brentwood

5-10, Sr., G, 17.0 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (25-3 last season)

Last year was a banner season for the Chargers after winning the tough Section 3 crown, claiming their first WPIAL boys basketball championship and reaching the PIAA semifinals. Like many of the top teams from a year ago, OLSH was hit hard by graduation, but it does return first-team all-section junior point guard Dante Spadafora, who has run the Chargers’ offense since his freshman year.

2. Sto-Rox (14-11)

The Vikings return all but one player from a team that finished in second place in Section 1 behind Winchester Thurston. Sto-Rox lost to Serra Catholic in the district quarterfinals and fell to PIAA runner-up Bishop Guilfoyle in the state playoffs. Among the returning players are seniors Jamil and Jamal Williams, Eric Wilson and A.J. Nelson, along with junior Omarion Smith.

3. Shenango (11-14)

The Wildcats return first-team all-section senior guard Colin McQuiston, who averaged more than 20 points for a team that finished fourth in the competitive Section 3 and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion OLSH. Also back for the Wildcats is junior guard Reis Watkins.

4. California (12-10)

The Trojans finished in third place in Section 2 thanks to the scoring of Malik Ramsey, who averaged more than 26 points. However, Ramsey was not eligible to play in the postseason because of the PIAA’s new transfer eligibility rule. California’s postseason stay without him was quick as it lost to Sto-Rox in Round 1. Senior guard Cochise Ryan leads a group of other returning Trojans.

5. Winchester Thurston (16-6)

The Bears made last season memorable by winning the school’s first boys basketball section title. The sweet memories didn’t carry over to the playoffs though as WT was stunned in the first round by South Side. Big things are expected again though the Bears will miss graduate Dusan Krivokapic, who was a first-team all-section player after averaging 22.5 ppg. Sophomore forward Langston Moses is one to watch.

Notable

• Not only did all four teams from Section 3-2A reach the quarterfinals, three of the four semifinalists from the 2019 playoffs were from Section 3. In fact, in the first three years of six classes, a team from Section 3 has won all three district championships (Sewickley Academy in 2017 and ‘18, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 2019).

• Class 2A had seven players average 20 points or more last season, the most of any classification. Two of those seven return (Malik Ramsey, Colin McQuiston), and four others graduated (Dusan Krivokapic of Winchester Thurston, Jimmy Moon of Serra Catholic, Malcolm Randall of Northgate, Mike Zolneirczyk of Springdale). Isiah Warfield transferred from Sewickley Academy to Central Valley.

• After a one year layoff, former West Mifflin coach Lance Maha is back on the sidelines this season as he takes over at Propel Braddock Hills. Maha had a record of 315-247 in his 23 years as head coach of the Titans and at Quigley Catholic. Propel Braddock Hills is in its second year as a member of the WPIAL and finished 3-18 a year ago.

• Besides Propel Braddock Hills, three other Class 2A schools will have new coaches this season. Ian McCombs has the task of taking over for a legend at Carmichaels. Don Williams retired after 44 years and 512 wins for the Mighty Mikes. At Apollo-Ridge, Greg Fox returns to take over for Damon Andring. Fox coached the Vikings from 1996 to 2009. William Sharpe is the new coach at Summit Academy.

• They may not be in the preseason top five, but don’t sleep on some traditional powers who will be in the hunt in Class 2A. Jeannette returns senior forward Jackson Pruitt among others; Sewickley Academy lacks size, but Max Belt is a standout junior guard; finalist Serra Catholic has senior point guard Jayden Bristol back; and Laurel returns junior guards Sam Haswell and Luke Barker with good size, as well.

Alignment

Section 1: Apollo-Ridge, Northgate, Propel Braddock Hills, Riverview, Springdale, Sto-Rox, Summit Academy, Winchester Thurston

Section 2: Bentworth, Brentwood, California, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston , Jeannette, Serra Catholic

Section 3: Burgettstown, Laurel, Mohawk, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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