Wide Open Class Quad-A
By: Steve Brodzinski
After three years of near domination from New Castle, and a very strong Hampton squad, both teams have moved down to Class AAA. There has been a sigh of relief around Class AAAA, as it seems to be a more even playing field in the 2014-15 season. There is a list of about ten legitimate title contenders throughout Quad A that could all be playing at the Peterson Events Center in late February.
In section 1, Hempfield emerged as the pre-season favorite and has not disappointed so far. They are off to a 5-0 start, and are being led by senior guard Kason Harrell. Harrell, who has signed to play Division 1 basketball at IPFW, has broken the 30 point mark multiple times already. Senior big man Tony Pilato has provided some added muscle, along with senior Logan Swan. Latrobe is looking strong with a 4-1 start, and their only loss coming in a 9 point loss to Pine Richland. Even without senior superstar Matt Cullen (Committed to play at Navy), who will miss the season with a knee injury, Latrobe is still very strong at the guard spot. Junior guard Sean Graytok, and sophomores Austin Butler and Jake Biss, form one of the strongest guard trios in the WPIAL. Norwin has shocked some people with a strong 6-0 start, behind senior guard Curtis Perz. Perz has scored 33 points, three times already this season. Logan Deri and sophomore Anthony Dellefemine have also been strong for the Knights so far.
In section 2, Gateway sits at 4-2 after a few tough losses, but should be poised come playoff time. They have 8 players on their roster listed at 6’4” or above. They are led by 6’5” senior Daylon Harris and 6’4” senior Arrington Johns. Plum, McKeesport, Penn Hills, and Franklin Regional will all be competing for a playoff spot in section 2 this season. Plum’s James Edwards is one of the top guards in the WPIAL. Franklin Regional’s 6’4” junior Todd Summers, Penn Hills’ DeAndre Schifino, and McKeesport’s Khalil Perdue round out some of the top talent in the section.
In section 3, North Allegheny is the favorite with a 5-0 start, but have plenty of teams right on their heels. They needed a last second three against Mt. Lebanon and a fourth quarter comeback against Pine Richland, to win both games by a total of 5 points. North Allegheny is led by seniors Cole Constantino, Will Sandherr, and Mike Fischer. Constantino is averaging a team high 21 points per game. Butler has surprised some people with a 5-0 start. Seniors Andrew Paterno, Mark Gross, and Justice Lewandowski, along with 6’4” sophomore Tyler Frederick are leading the way. Pine Richland is very deep, and already has wins over Latrobe, Penn Hills, and nearly defeated North Allegheny. The majority of their talent is coming from underclassmen, as senior Paul Nussbaum is the main senior contributor, until Ben DiNucci gets into basketball mode. Junior guard Adam Alexander, sophomore Andrew Petcash, and freshman Phil Jurkovec have led the Rams so far. Central Catholic led by senior Sean Whalen, Seneca Valley led by 6’6” senior Zach Snyder, and North Hills led by sophomore Nick Smith, should all compete for playoff spots.
In section 4, Chartiers Valley was the early favorite, and is off to a 6-1 start, with their only loss coming in a holiday tournament to a team from Arizona. They are led by senior guard Matt McConnell who has signed to play Division 1 basketball at Robert Morris University. Junior Eddie Flohr has emerged as one of the top junior guards in the WPIAL. It seems like Mt. Lebanon is in the conversation every year. They are off to a 5-1 start, with their only loss coming on a buzzer-beater three against North Allegheny. The return of 6’5” senior Matt Hoffman was a big lift to give 6’7” Pat Ehland some support inside. Senior guard Johnny David is one of the top players in the WPIAL, and is leading the Blue Devil’s offensive attack. A fairly young Upper St. Clair has gotten off to a surprising 6-1 start, including a recent 44 point win over Moon. They have been led by junior guard Andrew Wheeler. Bethel Park has a nice senior guard duo of Joey Mascaro and Anthony Bomar. Inside, 6’6” junior Jake Dixon is controlling the paint for the Blackhawks.
While there are five or six teams that have shown they will definitely be in the mix come playoff time, it is anyone’s game this year in Class AAAA. It will come down to who can stay healthy and gel together at the right time.