Xtra Points: Promoter highlights district talent

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Allen Deep's objective is to promote Western Pennsylvania high school basketball. He's using 24 teams and two college venues to do it this weekend.

Deep is running two events Saturday that feature some of the top teams and players in the WPIAL. The Coaches vs. Cancer Clash of the Titans will be at Geneva College; the Coaches vs. Cancer Backyard Brawlz will be at Seton Hill University. Both events will have six games (12 teams at each), beginning in the early afternoon.

Deep has been running the Roundball Classic all-star games at Geneva since the late 1990s. Those games feature the top seniors -- boys and girls -- in the WPIAL and City League.

But this is the fifth year for the event at Geneva and third year for the event at Seton Hill.

"It took some years to get these events going. They were slow to develop," said Deep, an Ellwood City resident. "The last two or three years, the games have drawn pretty well. The games at Geneva have really drawn well."

The field at Geneva features a boys game between New Castle and Montour. New Castle is the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked WPIAL Class AAAA team and is No. 6 in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News. New Castle has lost one game since the start of last season -- and that loss was to Montour in the second round of the PIAA playoffs. New Castle has developed a big following of fans.

"We're hoping the place might be sold out by the time of the New Castle-Montour game," Deep said of the 8 p.m. starting time.

The 6:30 p.m. game at Geneva also is interesting between Lincoln Park and Beaver Falls.

Among the top players participating in games at Geneva are New Castle's Shawn Anderson and Malik Hooker, Hampton's Ryan and Collin Luther and Beaver Falls' Elijah Cottrill. The girls games feature Hopewell's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, a University of Maryland recruit who is ranked among the top 50 players in the country.

At Seton Hill, a few of the top games are the Fox Chapel boys against Penn-Trafford, and Central Catholic against Hempfield.

Deep already is thinking about the games for next year. He has an idea of matching up the teams that met in the WPIAL championship games the previous year.

The Roundball Classic, by the way, will be April 20 at Geneva.

"When people talk about Western Pennsylvania basketball's reputation, we sometimes take a beating and that galls me," Deep said. "We still have some good teams and good players here.

"Some of the players who have come out of here the past few years are doing some good things on the college level. We just want to try and promote the area a little."

Deep in talent

Deep's daughter, Alex, is one of the better players in Class AA of the WPIAL. She was an all-section pick a year ago and is averaging 16.4 points a game for Riverside this season. She has signed with Seton Hill University.

From hardwood to mat

It took a month of the season for Allan Cratsenberg to figure out basketball wasn't for him. So he traded in his uniform for a singlet.

Cratsenberg, a junior at Highlands, has returned to the wrestling team. He was fourth in the WPIAL last year at 195 pounds and qualified for the PIAA tournament.

Cratsenberg, also a talented football player, had some problems with contact on the basketball court, fouling out of a number of games. Highlands does not have wrestling meets this year because, even with the addition of Cratsenberg, the team has only five wrestlers. But the wrestlers will go to individual tournaments and the WPIAL individual championships.

B.B.'s grandson shines

B.B. Flenory was a legendary high school basketball player at Valley High School in the 1970s before going on to a noteworthy college career at Duquesne and has been inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame. Flenory has a grandson who is a big star in another sport in Texas.

Brandon Simmons, Flenory's grandson, is a talented defensive back at Timberview High School, which is in the Mansfield, Texas, School District and draws students from Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield. He is only a junior, but has scholarship offers from colleges across the country. LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA are among the schools that have offered scholarships, and Flenory said Simmons has been invited to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl next year in San Antonio.

Two for 20

Greensburg Central Catholic basketball players Brian Graytok and Zach Herman have turned out to be a potent one-two scoring punch.

In the most recent WPIAL basketball statistics, Graytok and Herman are the only two players from the same WPIAL school averaging 20 or more points a game. Graytok, a senior guard, is averaging 22.5 and Herman, a junior guard, is averaging 20.1.

From NFL to high school

It wasn't all that long ago that Mark Brunell was throwing passes in the NFL. Now he's a high school head coach.

Brunell recently was named coach at Episcopal Academy in Jacksonville, Fla.

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For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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