WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball preseason breakdown

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Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 7:54 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 6A boys basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

Class 6A

Preseason Player of the Year

Ethan Morton

Butler

6-6, senior, point guard

27.5 ppg in 2018-19

Players to watch

Mason Bush

Seneca Valley

6-2, Sr., G, 17.8 ppg

Colin Cote

Peters Township

6-6, Sr., G, 18.3 ppg

Luke Gensler

Upper St. Clair

6-0, Jr., G, 11.5 ppg

Jake Hoffman

Mt. Lebanon

6-3, Sr., G, 17.1 ppg

Ryan Meis

Bethel Park

6-1, sr., G, 19.6 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Butler (21-6 last season)

The Golden Tornado return four starters from a team that finished second in Section 1 behind Pine-Richland and was a WPIAL finalist. Butler is led by arguably the best guard in the state in Purdue recruit Ethan Morton.

2. Mt. Lebanon (24-4)

The Blue Devils return two starters in seniors Jake Hoffman and Blane Gartley, along with several other players with varsity experience from last year’s Section 2 champion that went on to capture WPIAL gold.

3. Fox Chapel (16-9)

The Foxes finished second in Section 3 behind Latrobe and lost to eventual champion Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL quarterfinals and eventual PIAA champion Kennedy Catholic in first round of the state playoffs. Fox Chapel returns two key starters in Arnold Vento and Sam Brown.

4. Pine-Richland (22-4)

The Rams return senior guards Kyle Polce and Logan Murray, along with several others who played a role on a team that won Section 1 and reached the district semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to Butler by two points.

5. Upper St. Clair (19-4)

The Panthers finished a game behind eventual champion Mt. Lebanon in Section 2 before losing to Butler in the Class 6A quarterfinals. USC returns junior starting guard Luke Gensler, along with junior guard David Pantelis and senior forward Andrew Casey.

Notable

• Butler is the favorite in Class 6A, but there are seven or eight other teams that could be in the championship chase as the season progresses. There will be an emphasis on the perimeter with standout guards in all three sections.

• Pine-Richland has a combined record of 94-20 over the last four years. Last year was the first time since 2015 the Rams didn’t reach the district finals as they won it all in 2016 and ‘17 and finished as runner-up in 2018.

• For the first time in four decades, Central Catholic has a new basketball coach. How will the Vikings fare under new coach Brian Urso? He takes over for Chuck Crummie, who was not retained after 39 years and 653 wins.

• Two other new faces will take over for veteran head coaches this winter. Long time Allderdice coach Buddy Valisnky takes over a Norwin program that had been guided by Lynn Washowich since 2002. Also, Rick Bell retired after 20 years at Canon-McMillan, and Charles Murphy takes over as Big Macs coach.

• Latrobe will try to replace two of the leading scorers in the WPIAL after the graduation of all-section guards Bryce Butler and Reed Fenton. Butler averaged 22 points per game while Fenton pumped in 19. The Wildcats won Section 3 but lost in the Class 6A quarterfinals to Canon-McMillan, 83-62.

Alignment

Section 1: Butler, Central Catholic, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley

Section 2: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair

Section 3: Connellsville, Fox Chapel, Hempfield, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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