Notebook: Players' conduct draws WPIAL's attention

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The WPIAL has asked Aliquippa High School to take action against its basketball team for its behavior after the PIAA Class AA championship game Saturday.

The WPIAL sent a letter to Aliquippa school officials earlier this week, concerning the Quips' unsportsmanlike conduct after losing to Philadelphia Prep Charter, 68-66, at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.

"The position of this league is the actions that took place after the game are outside of what is deemed acceptable," said Tim O'Malley, the WPIAL's executive director. "We will wait for Aliquippa to look in the situation, and report to us what opinion they have and what actions might be forthcoming."

If the WPIAL is not satisfied with Aliquippa's response, the league could take action. O'Malley wouldn't say exactly what steps would be considered.

John Thomas, superintendent of Aliquippa schools, said school officials and Aliquippa coach Marvin Emerson will meet to discus the situation and what actions should be taken.

"We'll meet and see what's the best approach to this," Thomas said.

Emerson said: "We will address this. ... I'm apologetic for what happened. I have four daughters of my own, and they better not ever act like this after they lose a game."

After PIAA basketball championships, an awards ceremony takes place on the court. Silver medals and a trophy are first awarded to the runner-up team. Gold medals and a trophy are then awarded to the championship team.

Aliquippa blew a 14-point lead in the final four minutes to Prep Charter. Aliquippa star senior forward Herb Pope left the court immediately after the game. Someone from Aliquippa brought him back for the awards ceremony. But when Pope was handed his medal by Emerson, Pope dropped the medal to the ground and walked away.

A number of Aliquippa's players were in tears after the game. When Aliquippa's captains, including Pope, were called to the center of the court to accept the runner-up trophy, they took it, immediately put it on the floor and walked toward the locker room.

Almost the entire team walked off the court to the locker room before Prep Charter was awarded its medals and trophy. The runner-up team usually stands in a line on the court while the championship team gets its awards. Emerson yelled for his players to return to the court while Prep Charter accepted its awards.

Emerson said he was not aware of some actions by his players because his back was turned.

"When I gave Herb his medal, I didn't know he put it on the ground because I turned around to get other medals," Emerson said. "It's unfortunate that this happened. We don't stand for anything like this. It's not how we operate."

Thomas attended the game but did not come out of the stands afterward.

"We have good kids who are very competitive," Thomas said. "Sometimes things don't go the way they like and emotions come out. Nothing violent happened. It wasn't anything that caused anyone physical harm. It was just a lot of emotions coming out.

"I would hate to see 10 minutes cloud our entire season. I think it's unfair for people to see it that way. But I understand what the WPIAL has to do."

Schenley's parade

Sunday afternoon, five vehicles, with horns blowing, were going in a line through Downtown. The vehicles were filled with Schenley basketball players. At the front of the line was an SUV with a teenager hanging out of the sunroof, holding a PIAA championship trophy.

It was Schenley's homemade version of a championship parade. The Spartans won the PIAA Class AAAA title Saturday. The person holding the trophy was 6-foot-7 star senior DeJuan Blair.

"We went all over Downtown and the Hill District. We couldn't believe how many people knew who we were," said Schenley senior guard D.J. Kennedy. "We got stopped by a few cops who wanted to congratulate us."

Kennedy said Blair held the championship trophy because it was too heavy for anyone else to hold that long.

Blair said: "That wasn't it. I just wasn't letting anybody else have that thing. I was holding on to it."

Pope an All-American

Aliquippa's Pope has been selected a fourth-team Parade magazine All-American. He is the first Parade All-American from the WPIAL since Shaler's Dan Fortson in 1994.

Blair and Pitt

Blair, a Pitt recruit, hasn't scored high enough on the SAT yet to be eligible as a freshman but said he is close. He took the SAT again recently.

They rate

According to recruiting rankings on ESPN.com, the WPIAL will have three of the top 25 football players in the country next season and five of the top 100.

Jeannette quarterback-defensive back Terrelle Pryor is the No. 2 player in the country. Aliquippa tight end-defensive end Jonathan Baldwin is No. 12 and Trinity linebacker Andrew Sweat No. 21.

Also, Gateway linebacker Shayne Hale was ranked No. 44 and Thomas Jefferson lineman Lucas Nix No. 74.

Pryor, who has scholarship offers from schools across the country, made an unofficial visit to Penn State yesterday.

John Heller, Post-Gazette
Herb Pope's actions and those of his Aliquippa teammates after losing the PIAA Class AA final to Philadelphia Prep Charter has the WPIAL looking at the basketball program.
Click photo for larger image.

Mike White can be reached at mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975.


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