Boys Basketball Preview: With New Castle Gone, Who Will Claim Top Spot?

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by Steve Brodzinski

With New Castle’s domination over the past three seasons in the rearview mirror, there is finally room to breathe in the boys Class Quad A Division. This year provides a nice mix of talented teams, but no real juggernaut at the top, which should make for an exciting year in the WPIAL Class AAAA division.

Section 1
Favorite- Hempfield

Pre-Season Playoff Seed Picks- 1) Hempfield 2) Latrobe 3) Norwin 4) Kiski Area

Section 1 has the potential to be a very strong group of teams this year. Hempfield returns Super 6 selection Kason Harrell, and has legitimate size in two seniors – 6’8″ Pitt football commit Tony Pilato, and 6’5″ Logan Swan. Guard support for Harrell is the only question. Latrobe will be very strong, despite the loss of Navy commit and senior leader Matt Cullen for the season (knee surgery). A talented group of guards led by junior Sean Graytok, to go with some size in 6’3″ senior Lane Loughner, Latrobe will be a tough game every night. Kiski Area has one of the top scorers in Class AAAA in senior Mike Simmons, as well as, some size in 6’6″ senior Jacob Reid. Norwin has five very talented guards led by senior Curtis Perz, including the Deri Brothers, McCracken, and Dellafamine. Although very young, Penn Trafford could be the sleeper in the section.

Section 2
Favorite- Gateway

Pre-Season Playoff Seed Picks – 1) Gateway 2) Franklin Regional 3) Plum 4) Penn Hills

Gateway has the size and guard play to be the favorite in Section 2. Led by senior forward Daylon Harris, the Gators will be adjusting to a new head coach this seasons.  Plum is led by one of the top juniors in the WPIAL in 6’2″ James Edwards, along with a strong supporting class of guard play. Franklin Regional has some size in 6’4″ junior Todd Summers, and 6’6″ sophomore Aiden Sadoski. Fox Chapel lost its senior duo of Damico and Papich, but return senior point guard Billy Urso, and junior forward David Brown. Penn Hills will have solid guard play in seniors DeAndre Schifino and Juwan Haynes. Woodland Hills could be a sleeper, returning a very young team that only graduated 1 senior from last year.

Section 3
Favorite- North Allegheny

Pre-Season Playoff Seed Picks – 1) North Allegheny 2) Pine Richland 3) Central Catholic 4) Butler

Section 3 has some heavy hitters this season. North Allegheny is deep as always, led by a senior guard trio of Cole Constantino, Mike Fischer, and Will Sandherr. They also boast the top freshman in Pittsburgh in Curtis Aiken Jr., as well as, 5 players on their roster listed at 6’4″+. Led by new head coach Jeff Ackerman, Pine Richland is also deep…very deep. They boast senior guards Ben DiNucci and Paul Nussbaum, junior Adam Alexander, and sophomore Andrew Petcash, to go with 6’5″ freshman phenom Phil Jurkovec. Butler will bring in experience and athleticism. Look for senior Justice Lewandowski, and a break-out season by 6’4″ sophomore Tyler Frederick. Central Catholic has size and experience, led by two big guards in 6’4″ senior Sean Whalen and 6’2″ junior Bobby Kiernan. Seneca Valley is led by 6’6″ senior Zach Snyder, one of the top players in the WPIAL.

Section 4
Favorite- Chartiers Valley

Pre-Season Playoff Seed Picks – 1) Chartiers Valley 2) Mt. Lebanon 3) Bethel Park 4) Cannon Mac

Chartiers Valley has returned to section 4 of Quad A. They will be led by Robert Morris University signee Matty McConnell, and a talented group of guards that include junior Eddie Flohr, and sophomore Ross Wilkerson.  Mt. Lebanon’s Coach Joe David finds a way every year, and this team is no different. Led by his son 6’2″ senior Johnny David and 6’7″ Patrick Ehland the Blue Devils should be atop the section. The return of football player 6’4″ Matt Hoffman will be key. Bethel Park has a talented group of senior guards led by Joey Mascaro and Anthony Bomar, and some size in 6’6″ junior Jake Dixon. Moon will be solid with 6’3″ senior Kyle Bondi and 6’4″ junior Billy Lewis. The senior back court of Sam Bohn and Alex Hammers will help Cannon Mac and Coach Rick Bell. Peters Township could be a sleeper in the section as they are very junior/senior heavy. Look for junior Nick Valentic to have a big season.


Players To Watch

Zach Snyder – Sr. – Seneca Valley

Kason Harrell – Sr. – Hempfield

Curtis Perz – Sr. – Norwin

Sean Graytok – Jr. – Latrobe

Mike Simmons – Sr. – Kiski Area

Sean Stinnelli – Jr. – Penn Trafford

James Edwards – Jr. – Plum

Daylon Harris – Sr. – Gateway

Billy Urso – Sr. – Fox Chapel

Todd Summers – Jr. – Franklin Regional

DeAndre Schifino – Sr. – Penn Hills

Cole Constantino – Sr. – North Allegheny

Justice Lewandowski – Sr. – Butler

Bobby Kiernan – Jr. Central Catholic

Paul Nussbaum – Sr. – Pine Richland

Nick Smith – So. – North Hills

Matt McConnell – Sr. – Chartiers Valley

Joey Mascaro – Sr. – Bethel Park

Johnny David – Sr. – Mt. Lebanon

Sam Bohn – Sr. – Canon Mac

Andrew Wheeler – Jr. – USC

Underclassmen To Watch 

Tyler Frederick – So. – Butler

Curtis Aiken Jr. – Fr. – NA

Andrew Petcash – So. -Pine Richland

Tyrese Robinson – So. -Woodland Hills

Jake Biss – So. – Latrobe

Ross Wilkerson – So. – Chartiers Valley