WPIAL Class 5A boys basketball breakdown

Sunday, December 2, 2018 | 11:47 PM


WPIAL Class 5A

Preseason Player of the Year

Donovan Johnson


6-6, Jr., guard

19.0 ppg last season

Players to watch

Michael Carmody


6-6, Jr., F, 12.0 ppg

Nick Leopold

Franklin Regional

5-9, Sr., G, 12.0 ppg

Jaden Nelson


6-0, Sr., G, 12.0 ppg

Joe Pipilo

Chartiers Valley

6-2, Sr., G, 19.7 ppg

Connor Ryan


5-11, Sr., G, 16.0 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Mars (25-5 last season)

Mars won the WPIAL championship and finished second in the state a year ago. The Fightin’ Planets then graduated first-team all-state guard Robby Carmody (31.3 ppg), who is playing at Notre Dame. He was named the state’s Class 5A Player of the Year. They return his younger brother, Michael, a 6-foot-7 forward who is a promising football recruit. Senior guard Andrew Recchia, a Shippensburg recruit, also returns.

2. Penn Hills (24-4)

The Indians won their first WPIAL title since 2003 last season … in Class 6A. This year, they have dropped to 5A. They graduated their top three scorers, including Daivon Stephens (18.2 ppg), who is at Eastern Michigan. The Indians will lean on senior guard Tyree Spencer and senior guard/forward Marshall McArthur.

3. Moon (18-6)

Moon will lean on the Ryan twins again this season. Connor and Austin (14.5 ppg) helped the Tigers reach the WPIAL quarterfinals a year ago. Each were all-section selections. Connor was a starter on Moon’s WPIAL title team in 2017. Senior point guard Jioni Smith also returns, along with junior Donovan Johnson, who transfered from OLSH after earning a spot on the all-state team. The Tigers graduated only two seniors.

4. McKeesport (15-9)

McKeesport won the Section 1 title with an 11-1 record last season and then reached the WPIAL quarterfinals. All-section performers Terron Taylor, Layton Jordan and Jordan Grayson graduated. Deamontae Diggs returns.

5. Franklin Regional (20-6)

Leopold is the lone returning starter for the Panthers, who reached the WPIAL final for the first time a year ago. The Panthers also will lean on senior guard Thomas Merante.


• WPIAL Class 5A went from 20 teams in three sections to 23 teams in three sections.

• Shaler, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills and Plum dropped down from Class 6A.

• Highlands, Knoch and Ringgold moved down to Class 4A

• Trinity finished 21-6 and reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs last season but graduated all five starters.

• West Allegheny got off to a slow start with the boys soccer (PIAA champions) and football (WPIAL champions) teams making long postseason runs.

• Alvis Rogers, a former Wake Forest standout and 1983 Kansas City (now Sacramento) Kings draft pick, is in his first year as Gateway’s coach.


Section 1: Albert Gallatin, Gateway, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Chartiers Valley, Montour, Moon, South Fayette, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, West Allegheny, West Mifflin

Section 3: Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski Area, Mars, Shaler, Plum

— Bill Hartlep

Bill Hartlep is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

Tags: , , , , , ,

More High School Basketball

Gateway’s Lexi Jackson looks forward to career at Kent State
Westmoreland notebook: Belle Vernon freshman’s research project catches eye of WNBA
PIAA tightens competitive balance formula for football, basketball transfers
Belle Vernon freshman Viva Kreis gets behind-the-scenes look at WNBA
Burrell grad Fantuzzo returns to coach basketball at alma mater

click me