Quad-A Boys Basketball Preview
by Andrew Heck
The Quad-A boys and girls basketball season will tip off this weekend with games starting on Friday, December 6. Here’s a quick preview of the teams and players to keep an eye on during the 2013-14 season.
The Section 1 champions from last season, the Hempfield Spartans, look to repeat as section champs with first year coach Mark Marino. Marino will look to Kason Harrell to lead his team. Harrell, a 6’2 junior, was tops in scoring last year averaging 16.4 points per game. Helping Hempfield in their quest to defend their title will be senior guard, Mike Naumen, and junior forward, Toni Pilato. The Spartans begin regular season action at home vs. Norwin on December 13.
Section 2 looks to be a battle between Gateway, Fox Chapel and Central Catholic. The Fox Chapel Foxes boast Matt D’Amico and Brian Papich who both held honors as Quad-A leading scorers last season.
The Gateway Gators are the reigning two-time section champions and show much promise with one of the tallest lineups in Quad-A. Tom Kromka, a 6’6 senior, is hoping to lead the Gators to another Section 2 Championship.
After a record of 16-6 last season, Central Catholic aims to capture the Section 2 crown this year. The Vikings will begin the regular season on December 13 at home against Penn Hills. The Central Catholic Football team is still in the hunt for a state PIAA championship which may leave Head Coach Chuck Crummie without his full roster at the outset this season.
The Hampton Talbots are the pre-season favorites in Quad A. They return four of their five starters from last season, including Ryan Luther, a 6’8 senior who averaged over 21 points per game. Ryan’s brother, Collin Luther, along with David Huber and Joey Lafko, make up the returning starters who have hopes of ending this season with a victory at the A.J. Palumbo Center. Hampton opens the regular season at Penn-Trafford High School Friday, December 6 at 6:30pm.
Before they can win the WPIAL title, Hampton will first have to take down their section nemesis and reigning WPIAL champions, the New Castle Red Hurricanes. The Red Hurricanes are led this year by Ohio State football recruit, Malik Hooker. Hooker, a 6’2 senior, averaged 16.8 points per game last year and is said to be one of the most well rounded athletes in the Quad A division. Hooker and his teammates begin their title defense on Friday, December 6, when they play host to West Middlesex High School.
With Upper St. Clair graduating all but one starter from the 2012-13 season, Bethel Park has sights on claiming a Section 4 title. The Blackhawks are returning two junior guards, Joey Mascaro and Sam Volpatti, who were the backbone to their back court last season.
USC hopes to hold off the competition in Section 4 with their lone returning starter, senior guard J.J. Conn. With a younger starter five, Conn hopes to be the glue that helps gel the Panthers together this season.
The Plum Mustangs in the tough Section 2 could be a team to watch out for later in the year. Last season the Mustangs led the WPIAL in defense, allowing only 43 points per game.
North Allegheny is over shadowed in Section 3 by the two powerhouses Hampton and New Castle. But NA, a WPIAL semifinalist and PIAA quarterfinalist from the 2012-13 season, loves shooting beyond the arch and can get hot on any given night. Joe Mancini will return, who hit 70 three pointers a year ago and hopes to shatter that number this year. Also returning is David Haus, who averaged 10 points per game and 147 rebounds last season.
For a schedule of Tip-Off Tournaments this weekend, click here.
(Photo courtesy of Hampton Athletics)