By Matt Popchock
First of all, congratulations are in order for four remarkable players–two boys and two girls–on remarkable career achievements that have been attained this week. These “fantastic four” have all reached four-figure scoring milestones:
*Thanks to–what else?–a three-pointer midway through the opening period, Highlands senior guard and Drake recruit Micah Mason became the 26th person in WPIAL history to score 2,000 career points, according to The Pittsburgh Basketball Report, in Friday’s night’s 62-41 win over visiting Burrell. Mason would eventually drain five of nine three-pointers by the Golden Rams (4-4, 6-9), and leave with a game-high 31 points. He is already averaging over 30 per contest to lead all WPIAL boys.
They’re battling with Valley for the last playoff spot in AAA-Sec. 1, and in the meantime, Mason is now among the district’s top 25 in all-time scoring. He’s the first to reach 2,000 since Chartiers Valley/Duquesne product T.J. McConnell did so two years ago, and according to the Post-Gazette, Mason needs to hit just 21 more times behind the arc to match McConnell’s WPIAL record for career three-pointers (334).
*The Woodland Hills boys are not a fluke in AAAA-Sec. 2. They proved that by posting their second win over WPIAL champion and section rival Gateway, a 58-49 triumph over the visiting Gators Friday. Cincinnati football recruit Shakim Alonzo’s double-double, 26 points and 19 boards, allowed the Wolverines to take a firm grip on the section lead, and it allowed Alonzo to celebrate 1,000 career points.
*This week the news was better for the Gateway girls. Despite spending part of her high school career in Ohio, senior guard and Baylor recruit Destiny Brown suprassed 1,000 career points in the WPIAL Tuesday during a 75-40 blowout of host McKeesport. Brown had a game-high 29 points in that one, and although she did not play a dominant role at Woodland Hills Friday, the Gators (7-0, 11-1) extended their winning streak to six by beating the Wolverines 61-55. She led Quad-A with a scoring average over 24 per game entering the weekend.
*Beth-Center senior guard Anna Shashura also reached 1,000 career points Tuesday, going 12-of-13 at the line and leading the field with 31 points in a 51-44 win at Brownsville. Unfortunately she was held to 12 on Thursday, as the Bulldogs (4-3, 9-5) came back to Earth with a 54-38 loss at Charleroi. But they still remain in the thick of the playoff race in AA-Sec. 4; plus, they can still grab a share of the section crown, thanks to Washington’s upset of Bentworth Thursday. The Bearcats’ loss leaves the WPIAL with four undefeated teams: Oakland Catholic, Seton-LaSalle, Fort Cherry, and Vincentian Academy.
Second of all, there are a number of special events taking place in greater Pittsburgh gyms this weekend. We begin with a quick look at the “Coaches vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans” at Geneva College’s Metheny Field House, which tips off Saturday:
12:30 PM – Quigley vs. Beaver Falls
2:00 PM – North Catholic vs. Riverside
3:30 PM – North Catholic vs. East Liverpool (OH)
5:00 PM – Lincoln Park vs. Sewickley Academy
6:30 PM – Farrell vs. Beaver Falls
8:00 PM – New Castle vs. Montour
The first girls’ game is a matchup of section leaders in Class AA and Class A, not to mention teams with identical 9-4 overall records. In the second, North Catholic, the defending WPIAL champ in Class A, will have to contain six-foot Sam Weir, one of the top forwards in Class AA, who averages 18 a game for Riverside. The North Catholic boys are coming off an emotional win against Vincentian Academy that keeps the Trojan boys atop Section 2 of Class A, and East Liverpool (OH) is off to a 10-1 start. Lincoln Park’s meeting with Sewickley Academy is a rematch of the 2010 WPIAL Class A title game, won by the Panthers. Carrington Motley averages around 20 per game for Sewickley, but will have his hands full against Temple recruit Devontae Watson, one of the district’s most athletic defenders. Farrell might not be much of a match for Beaver Falls, but at least it’ll give the masses a chance to see senior combo guard Sheldon Jeter put on a show for the Tigers, the top-ranked boys’ team in Class AA. Jeter is among the top ten scorers in the WPIAL at over 22 points per game. But the battle of unbeatens between WPIAL champion Montour and probable challenger New Castle is the one that has everyone talking. Devin Wilson is heating up offensively for a Spartan squad that is getting it done with defense, and that defense will be pushed by Corey Eggleston and Shawn Anderson, perhaps the best guard tandem in the district. They average a combined 40 points per game.
Meanwhile, it’s a busy weekend at Shaler. Penn State recruit Geno Thorpe just led the Titans to a huge grudge-match win over North Allegheny Friday night, and now, the Titans will host the first-ever Planet Athlete Pittsburgh National Showcase:
2:30 PM – Mount Lebanon vs. Princeton Day Academy (MD)
7:00 PM – Pittsburgh Central Catholic vs. Quality Education Academy (NC)
3:00 PM – Woodland Hills vs. Regional Elite Development Academy
6:00 PM – Shaler vs. Princeton Day Academy (MD)
Princeton Day Academy is led by senior guard Jamaal Williams, who averages 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Each of their WPIAL opponents this weekend feature talented guards as well. Three-sport star Luke Hagy leads Mount Lebanon, which is challenging Chartiers Valley for the AAAA-Sec. 4 lead, while Thorpe dumped 29 points on N.A. in Friday’s 59-41 victory, and is averaging over 23 per game. The Wolverines’ opponent is a Canadian prep school based in Hamilton, Ontario that is geared toward those serious about playing at the next level.
Finally, the annual Pittsburgh Classic tips off at Robert Morris University Sunday, and here’s who to look for at the Sewall Center:
11:00 AM – Bishop Canevin vs. Quaker Valley
12:30 PM – Upper St. Clair vs. Aliquippa
2:00 PM – Greensburg Central Catholic vs. West Mifflin
3:30 PM – Sto-Rox vs. South Fayette
5:00 PM – Chartiers Valley vs. Montour
6:30 PM – Allderdice vs. Seneca Valley
Quaker Valley will be eager to reinflate its ego with a win after getting humbled by AA-Sec. 6 leader Beaver Falls, 64-48, on Friday, despite 15 points from Sam Peduto. GCC is a very battle-tested team that won’t be shy about “playing up” against West Mifflin, which holds second place in AAA-Sec. 4. The Titans’ defense should be a good barometer for the Centurions’ inside game, centered by P.J. McLaughlin, who averages around 20 points per game. In addition, it’ll be interesting to see what Allderdice, another quick and quick-witted defensive team, can do against a Quad-A team in a year where the whole City League seems to be down. But once again, Montour is the one that finds itself in the brightest spotlight. The Spartans get to measure themselves against Chartiers Valley, which, with a healthy Wayne Capers (17 ppg entering Friday), looks like the team to beat in Quad-A. The Colts, like Montour, average 71 points a night to lead their classification, and between them, Montour, and New Castle, there’s no telling which two will maintain perfect records entering next week.
Be sure to check back with the “Mr. High School Sports” blog for more on these events, and other WPIAL basketball news and notes!
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)