By Matt Popchock
It’s been another action-packed week of hoops in the WPIAL, but before it all began some big things happened last weekend that should not be overlooked. Sufficed to say, Mr. High School Sports has some catching up to do, but perhaps that just goes with the territory when there’s so many scholastic sports happenings to discuss…and, oh yeah, when a raucous Steeler playoff party leaves one sleep-deprived. Never one to make excuses, 93.7 The Fan’s high school sports reporter wants to take a look back at a weekend that saw a couple big upsets, some terrific defense, and one unbeaten team go down. Here’s a glimpse of what happened:
GIRLS’ CLASS AAA, SECTION 3
Indiana 53, Greensburg-Salem 16
The defensive clinic we expected in the heart of Westmoreland County last Thursday ended up being all on Indiana’s side, as the consensus No. 1 squad in girls’ Class AAA preserved its perfect record by dominating Salem from start to finish. Despite shooting an abysmal 20 percent in the first half, the Little Indians (5-0, 13-0) completely shut down the Golden Lions (2-3, 8-4) on the other end of the floor before settling into an offensive groove and outscoring them 32-7 in the second half. Leslie Stapleton, one of the top players in the classification, finished with a game-high ten points and eight rebounds, and Desiree Cavalancia finally returned from injury to chip in eight points. It was one more than the seven scored by Devon Montenegro, which led Greensburg-Salem.
(UPDATE: Greensburg-Salem dropped its third in a row Monday against Mount Pleasant, while Indiana stayed perfect with a win over Derry that night.)
GIRLS’ CLASS AA, SECTION 1
Elderton 33, Deer Lakes 27
Speaking of defensive clinics, Elderton used one to grind out a home-court upset of Post-Gazette No. 3 Deer Lakes, a game in which the no-longer-undefeated Lancers (5-1, 10-1) never managed more than nine points in any quarter. Furthermore, the Bobcats (4-2, 8-3), who moved to within one game of the Section 1 front-runners, handled DL’s full-court defense responsibly, and Jill Glover knocked down 16 points, including eight from the foul line, to lead the way. Elderton, which is off to its best start since the 2003-04 campaign, won its seventh in a row and limited Shannon Dugan to eight points, which led the Lancers.
(UPDATE: Deer Lakes rebounded back home Monday night with a section victory over Burrell. Elderton’s win streak ended over the weekend with a non-section loss to Highlands, but the Bobcats responded Monday with a win over Freeport.)
BOYS’ CLASS AAAA, SECTION 4
Moon 66, Upper St. Clair 60
There is a logjam in this section that the Tigers (2-3, 8-3) are right in the middle of, and they closed the gap on the Panthers (2-3, 7-5) with a resilient fourth quarter to hand USC its third straight loss. It was a one-possession game entering the final period, but Moon pulled ahead thanks to the leadership of big man Aaron Johnson, who scored 13 points to finish with a game-high 25 and grabbed 12 boards on the night, though he had help in the form of another double-double from Kyle Henderson–16 points and 11 rebounds–that should not go unnoticed. Upper St. Clair got 28 points from team scoring leader Steve Limberiou, who had entered the weekend seventh in Quad-A scoring.
(UPDATE: Upper St. Clair ended its skid with an upset victory at arch-rival Mount Lebanon Tuesday, while Moon has now dropped three of four and fallen temporarily out of the playoff picture with a home loss to Chartiers Valley.)
BOYS’ CLASS AAA, SECTION 2
New Castle 74, Blackhawk 58
Once upon a time consensus No. 4 Blackhawk was regarded as the team to beat in Section 3, but suddenly that grouping is a little more up for grabs after New Castle gave the visitors a reality check. The Red Hurricane (4-1, 8-4) got a game-high 26 points from Cory Eggleston, and 22 from Brandon Domenick, who buried six three-pointers and scored 19 first-half points to help stake New Castle to a surprising 43-27 lead from which Blackhawk and its talented front-court could never recover. Cory Ostach led the Cougars (3-1, 7-5), who lost for the second time in three days and fell one game behind New Castle for the section lead, with 18 points.
(UPDATE: Blackhawk remains one win behind New Castle after Tuesday’s win over Beaver, while the Red Hurricane have now won four of their last five overall after beating Ambridge that night.)
BOYS’ CLASS AA, SECTION 3
Monessen 62, Bishop Canevin 56
The balanced attack of Post-Gazette No. 3 Monessen proved too hot for the Crusaders (2-3, 5-7) and their staunch defense to handle, as five of the Greyhounds (5-0, 10-2) finished in double figures to help their team stay ahead of second-place Wilkinsburg in Section 3. Jaylin Madison led the way with 15 points, and Cam Johnson contributed 14 to key Monessen’s fifth win in a row. After a tight first quarter the hosts went on a 16-6 romp through the second that put Canevin on its heels the rest of the night. The Crusaders remain stuck in fourth place despite a game-high 19 from Gino Palmosina, though they did pick up a non-section victory over Quaker Valley Saturday afternoon in the Cetrone Classic.
(UPDATE: Bishop Canevin made it two in a row Tuesday with a one-point nail-biter over visiting Seton-LaSalle.)
BOYS’ CLASS A, SECTION 4
Serra Catholic 80, St. Joseph 68
It was going to take an extraordinary effort for the Eagles (2-0, 8-4) to keep up with the most prolific offense in Class A, but that’s exactly what the Post-Gazette’s No. 5 team got from Matt Loftis in overtaking the Spartans (1-1, 10-2) for the top spot in the section. Loftis pumped in a game-high 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting and converted 11 of his 12 free throws, and Daryan Robinson’s 21 also helped Serra fight through a first half that saw over 80 combined points. Brian Heinle, one of the top five scorers in Class A, was on his game for St. Joseph with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep their five-game winning streak alive.
(UPDATE: Serra Catholic earned another section win Tuesday over Leechburg, while St. Joseph bounced back with a Section 4 triumph over Geibel.)
For continuing coverage of WPIAL basketball, be sure to check back with Mr. High School Sports throughout the 2010-11 season!