Holding Court: Surprising Kittanning 10-0, but faces stiff test at Mars

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Heading into 2013, nine boys basketball teams in the WPIAL had an undefeated record. Shockingly, one of the nine was Kittanning.

History says Kittanning's 9-0 start is astonishing. An 0-9 start might be more like it for the Wildcats. After all, Kittanning has had only one winning season in the past 20 years and finished winless in section play seven times during that span. Kittanning has averaged only five wins over the previous 20 seasons and the Wildcats' winning percentage during that time was .319.

It should be pointed out that Kittanning's schedule hasn't exactly been strong so far, but the Wildcats still have been impressive, outscoring teams by an average of 71-47. Kittanning has been led by 6-foot-4 junior guard Sterling Henry, who is averaging 19 points a game. He had 40 points and 15 rebounds in a recent contest against Ford City. Vince Mead, a 6-6 senior, is averaging 11 points.

How good is Kittanning? Tonight should give a good indication. The Wildcats play at Mars in a big Class AAA Section 1 game. Mars is the Post-Gazette's No. 3-ranked Class AAA team and is the favorite to win Section 1. But even if Kittanning loses to Mars and drops a few more games in the next month, the Wildcats have certainly made a dramatic turnaround.

Kittanning's program actually started to turn around the past two seasons when the Wildcats went 10-12 and 9-14. Last year's team made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 1985. The Wildcats haven't won a playoff game since 1984 and haven't won a section title since 1982.

In memory of Sauer

Pete Sauer was a star basketball player at Shady Side Academy and went on to start on an NCAA Final Four team at Stanford. Sauer died suddenly this summer of an apparent heart attack caused by an enlarged heart, but Shady Side Academy is making sure his memory will last forever.

Last week, Shady Side Academy officially named its court "Peter Sauer '95 Court." Sauer was a 1995 Shady Side graduate. The school's annual holiday basketball tournament will now be known as the "Peter Sauer '95 Memorial Basketball Tournament." And Shady Side Academy's uniforms will have a "PS" patch on it for the rest of the season.

Sauer helped Shady Side Academy win a PIAA title in 1995.

New Castle, NA top 10

Earlier this week, the Middle Atlantic Sports News/LLHoops.com came out with its first Pennsylvania boys rankings of the season. The rankings are always interesting because teams are ranked regardless of class. Two WPIAL teams made the top 10. New Castle is No. 8 and North Allegheny No. 10. Hampton is No. 12. New Castle, North Allegheny and Hampton are all in WPIAL Class AAA Section 3. Other WPIAL teams in the top 25 are No. 18 Gateway and No. 23 Chartiers Valley.

The top seven teams are Chester (Class AAAA), Neumann-Goretti (AAA), Lower Merion (AAAA), Math, Civics & Sciences (A), Imhotep Charter (AA), Harrisburg (AAAA) and McCaskey (AAA).

Clippers streak ends

One of the longest winning streaks in Pennsylvania boys basketball came to an end recently when Chester lost to Lone Peak (Utah), 73-50. The loss snapped Chester's 61-game winning streak, which tied for the third-longest in Pennsylvania history. West Philadelphia has the record with a 68-game streak from 1976-78.

Jabari Parker in Wheeling

Jabari Parker is a well-known senior forward from Chicago who has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the top three players in the country. He recently announced he will attend Duke. Parker will get close to playing in Pennsylvania Saturday when he and his Simeon Career Academy teammates play Montverde (Fla.) in the Cancer Research Classic at Wheeling Jesuit University. The game will be televised live by ESPN2 at 6 p.m.

The nine-game Classic is spread out over two days and Seton-LaSalle is part of the event, playing Linsly (W.Va.) this afternoon at 4:30.

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Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com


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