With 278 boys and girls basketball teams in the WPIAL and City League combined and most of them playing a regular-season schedule of 20 or more games, it would only seem logical that a fair percentage of those games might not have a great deal of relevance.
But that certainly was not the case last week for a game between the top two girls' teams in Class AAA. No. 1 Hopewell and No. 2 Blackhawk met on the court and there was more than just bragging rights at stake. The Cougars took down the top-ranked Vikings, 56-52, last Thursday at Hopewell.
The Section 3 foes played a close game in a much anticipated matchup, with the Cougars (6-0, 2-0) leading at the end of every quarter, but never entirely seizing control of the game. The scoring difference in each quarter was never more than three points (when Blackhawk led 15-12 after the first quarter).
Chassidy Omogrosso led Blackhawk with 18 points in the game, with Courtney Vannoy backing her up with 16. Both of those players are just in their sophomore seasons.
The victory was a statement win for a Cougars team that was given a chance to prove it was the best in its class, helping strengthen what was already an impressive resume.
Prior to the game against Hopewell, Blackhawk had won its first four games by an average margin of 47.5 points. There was also no lull after the big win, as the Cougars took care of business by defeating Mercyhurst Prep, 62-48, on Saturday.
After the holidays, things don't get much easier for Blackhawk, as it has a section game against West Allegheny followed by a three-game stretch against teams with a combined record of 14-4 -- Ambridge Area, North Catholic and Central Valley.
As for Hopewell (5-1, 2-1)? It's got a chance to rebound and get a winning streak going with three games against teams that are a combined 4-8 before they participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans beginning Jan. 12, a strong tournament field that features Mohawk, Central Valley and New Castle.
The Vikings also can take comfort in the knowledge that the have one of the area's top players on its roster -- Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who scored 32 in the loss to Blackhawk.
The two teams will meet in the section rematch on Jan. 24. As big as the first game was, the second could have even larger ramifications.
Chartiers Valley girls slip
The girls' basketball team at Chartiers Valley entered the season with high expectations, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA. But after winning their first five games, the Colts dropped two in a row while participating in the KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Obviously, any loss is hard for a team to deal with, especially for such a talented group as the Colts (5-2, 3-0), but the setbacks came to two strong teams -- Spring-Ford of Royersford, Pa., and Colonial of Orlando, Fla., two teams that had collectively won all but one of their first 22 games this season.
Chartiers Valley also has the benefit of having its next three games coming against teams with losing records -- Butler Area, Penn Hills and Peters Township.
Quigley Catholic boys' basketball senior Jay Fyda reached a career milestone Dec. 18 as he scored his 1,000th career point in a home win against Carrick, a 62-53 final. Fyda scored 14 points in the victory, actually making him the team's third leading scorer behind Zach Herman (18 points) and Nate Lieb (16) in that game.
With the help of Fyda, the Spartans (6-1) are on a six-game winning streak after losing their season opener to East Allegheny.
Good start for Ambridge
Granted, it's early in the season, but the girls' basketball team at Ambridge is off to a strong start, which may come as a surprise to some. After struggling through a 5-17 season, the Bridgers are off to a 4-2 start this campaign, nearly matching their win total from last season in just six games.
When looking for explanations for the turnaround, the mere passage of time is a good place to start. Of the 14 players on their roster last year, 11 were freshmen or sophomores. Experience has seemingly paid off for that team.
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