It's happened every year for as long as The Fumbler can remember, and it took place once again earlier this week.
The Fumbler's rotary phone rang Monday afternoon. On the other end was his cousin, The Dribbler, whose voice chimed with excitement in anticipation of today's big event.
This is the day when turf (artificial or the real thing) meets hardwood, as the basketball season gets underway for WPIAL and City League teams.
But while it's a happy time of year for The Dribbler, it's quite the opposite for The Fumbler, who knows it will be closing time soon.
Luckily for The Fumbler, three WPIAL teams remain alive in the PIAA playoffs, with the semifinals taking place tonight and tomorrow.
The Fumbler highly doubts the WPIAL will be totally eliminated from PIAA championship contention. In fact, according to him, all three semifinalists will be getting a big Hershey kiss this weekend.
Will the WPIAL go 3-0 this weekend? Let The Fumbler know by emailing him at email@example.com.
The Fumbler went a perfect 4-0 in his PIAA quarterfinal picks, upping his season mark to 528-133 (.798).
This is what he foresees happening in the PIAA semifinal games.
North Allegheny (14-0) vs. West Lawn Wilson (13-1) at Altoona's Mansion Park Stadium, Saturday at 3 p.m. -- Wilson boasts a current and former NFL quarterbacks among its alumni, a group that includes Chad Henne, the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kerry Collins. Wilson could definitely use either of them this week, as they try to keep pace with a North Allegheny team that scored 56 points in the quarterfinals. Winner: North Allegheny.
Other semifinal: La Salle College (12-1) over Coatesville (12-2)
Erie Cathedral Prep (13-0) over Bishop McDevitt (14-0); Archbishop Wood (11-2) over Allentown Central Catholic (9-5)
Aliquippa (14-0) vs. Richland (14-0) at North Allegheny, tonight at 7 p.m. -- The vaunted Aliquippa defense faces a 1,000-yard passer (Matt Shaffer, 1,850) and rusher (Tanner Solarczyk, 1,797), but it's how the Richland defense holds up against the Quips rushing attack that will be the biggest key. The Quips have averaged 456 yards on the ground over their past three games. Winner: Aliquippa.
Other semifinal: Imhotep Charter (14-0) over Wyomissing (14-0)
Clairton (14-0) vs. Port Allegany (13-0) at Deer Lakes, tonight at 7 p.m. -- For the first time in years, The Fumbler believes there's a realistic chance Clairton's winning streak (now at 61) might come to an end. Port Allegany's record-setting quarterback Matt Bodamer will give the Bears -- minus injured defensive back Titus Howard -- all they can handle. But one thing Port Allegany doesn't have is Tyler Boyd. That will be the difference. Winner: Clairton.
Other semifinal: Dunmore (13-1) over Bellwood-Antis (13-1).