Twas the morning of Christmas, when all through the gym,
Not a WPIAL team was playing, the lights were dim,
The Dribbler sought a basketball game to watch,
Instead he spent his time unwrapping his brand new socks.
Santa brought The Dribbler 20 pair of socks. No rhyme or reason behind it. Meanwhile, The Dribbler handed his nephew the ultra-popular Jordan XI's: Price tag -- $175.
Buying those took The Dribbler back quite a few years (and also overdrew his checking account). When he was a kid, his uncle bought him a fresh pair of the Spud Webb III's. After watching Spud, at 5 feet 7, win the 1986 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk competition, The Dribbler figured the shoes would give him the "hops" to do his own dunking. Well, it didn't. Instead, The Dribbler became 3 inches shorter.
Years later, The Dribbler still can't dunk, but he's not short on talent when it comes to predicting winners of WPIAL and City League games.
Dealing with shopping, travelling and trying on socks, however, The Dribbler stumbled to start the season. He was just 5-3 in games played through Wednesday.
A bounce back is nearly certain.
Here's how The Dribbler foresees this week's set of games playing out:
Top boys games
Fox Chapel vs. Beaver Falls (Montour tournament), tonight, 6 p.m. -- Kudos to the people at Montour for putting together this talent-heavy tournament. Fox Chapel won its first seven games, three by five points or fewer. Expect this one to be close, too. Beaver Falls' Elijah Cottrill will get in the final word, however. Winner: Beaver Falls.
Montour vs. Hempfield (Montour tournament), tonight, 7:30 p.m. -- Montour's multi-sport star, Devin Wilson, set a WPIAL record for career receptions this fall and was named all-state in football last week. In basketball, Wilson is a "pass first" point guard. His basketball mantra should be, "It's better to give than to receive." Winner: Montour.
Penn-Trafford vs. Bethel Park (Shady Side Academy tournament), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. -- These two could be a combined 15-1 prior to tip-off. The Dribbler loves the abundance of excellent post players. Bethel Park boasts Wyatt Hagerty and Kenny Gilmore. Penn-Trafford has Andy Abreu and Corey Stanford. Bethel Park's guard play is just a bit better. Winner: Bethel Park.
Other top boys games
(Home team in all CAPS) BEAVER FALLS over Blackhawk (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.); WEST MIFFLIN over Keystone Oaks (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.); Quaker Valley over QUIGLEY CATHOLIC (Wednesday, 7 p.m.).
Top girls games
Penn-Trafford at Hempfield, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. -- First place in Class AAAA Section 1 is on the line. Penn-Trafford is the two-time defending section champion and will outlast Hempfield behind a balanced offense that is among the highest-scoring in the WPIAL (the Warriors have scored at least 71 points three times). Winner: Penn-Trafford.
Mt. Lebanon at Bethel Park, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. -- All trends point to Mt. Lebanon winning this one. The Blue Devils have won 25 Class AAAA Section 4 games in a row and own 11 consecutive victories against Bethel Park. The Black Hawks last beat Mt. Lebanon on Feb. 5, 2007. The Black Hawks are overdue to party like it's 2007. Winner: Bethel Park.
Moon at South Park, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. -- Moon surpassed last season's win total (four) a few days before Christmas. That's the good news for the Tigers. The bad news is, while they are much improved, they are not on the same level as South Park, which is a WPIAL title contender. Winner: South Park.
Other top girls games
(Home team in all CAPS) McGuffey over CHARLEROI (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.); NORTH CATHOLIC over Eden Christian (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.); UPPER ST. CLAIR over Gateway (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.).