By Matt Popchock


The state football playoffs resume this weekend, but lest we forget Friday also marks the beginning of a new high school basketball season. One of the seminal events of the 2011-12 WPIAL boys’ campaign is the EQT Energy Classic at Canon-McMillan High School.

One of eight teams to participate in this three-day tipoff tournament, the Big Macs will be joined by Washington County neighbors Washington, Trinity, Waynesburg of Class AAA, and Burgettstown of Class AA. West Greene of Class A will also be on display, along with eastern Kentucky programs Pikeville and Allen Central.

Pikeville won this tournament on its home floor last December and ultimately finished 22-7, reaching the second round of the KHSAA Boys’ Basketball Playoffs (Kentucky, by the way, is one of the last states in America to play universal high school basketball playoffs, as opposed to grouping teams into classifications). Trinity and Burgettstown are both coming off WPIAL playoff appearances.

Canon-McMillan missed out on the 2011 postseason, and making it won’t be easy in Class AAAA Section 4 with Mount Lebanon coming off a PIAA Final berth and Chartiers Valley coming off a WPIAL Final berth. But head coach Rick Bell returns his starting backcourt of Kenyaada Brown and Brett Haney, along with a deep senior class, so it should be fun to watch if Canon-Mac can rebound from a rough year.

Tournament organizer Michael Dongilli joined “Seibel, Starkey & Miller” (weekday afternoons 2:00-6:00 on 93.7 The Fan) Friday to preview the tournament:

Keep reading the “Mr. High School Sports” blog this weekend for more coverage of the EQT Energy Classic! Check out the official tournament website for more info, including the complete bracket.

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