Heading into his team's game against Serra Catholic last Friday, Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball guard Brian Graytok was already a known commodity.
A junior, he is among the WPIAL's top 10 scorers in points per game and he is perhaps the best player on a top-five Class AA team that has lost just one game this season, so he has little trouble standing out.
But, after his performance last week against the Eagles, Graytok's name will be known in a place where recognition and honor isn't quite so fleeting -- his school's record books.
In Greensburg Central Catholic's 85-69 victory against Serra Catholic, which entered the game with a 10-1 record, Graytok tied the program's single-game scoring record by netting a career-high 44 points. The previous record was set in 2001, when Jeff Mroz scored 44 points against Leechburg.
"I don't think he took a 3-point shot the entire game, so they were all good quality shots," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Greg Bisignani said of the performance. "He just had a hot hand."
Last week's scoring outburst was another example of the progress Graytok has shown as he has developed into one of the top scorers in the area.
As a sophomore last year, Graytok got good minutes for a team that finished 21-7 and made it to the PIAA quarterfinals, but he largely played a supporting role behind seniors such as P.J. McLaughlin and Dan Sinwell, as well as, to an extent, junior Zach Herman.
This year, however, Graytok has shown significant signs of improvement and emerged as the Centurions' go-to scorer. His average of 23.3 points per game, as of Jan. 15, is a team high that ranks him as one of the top nine scorers in the WPIAL.
Meanwhile, his Greensburg Central Catholic team (14-1, 6-0) passed one of its toughest tests of the season when it outlasted Class AA No. 1 Jeannette (10-2, 5-1) Tuesday on the Jayhawks' home floor. That gives the Centurions the section lead through the first half of section play.
Several teams in the East Xtra region have recently made winning something of a habit.
The McKeesport boys team has won nine consecutive games, after starting the season 1-3. In that span, the Tigers (10-3, 6-1) have averaged about 62 points per game while giving up fewer than 49 points per game.
The highest-scoring team in Class AAAA Section 2, McKeesport faced two major challenges this week, passing the first by edging Gateway, 42-40, Tuesday.
It travels to Fox Chapel (10-4, 5-2) Friday for another key section game.
The boys team at Kiski Area also has put together a nice run, having won five games in a row and seven of its past eight. Though some of the games came against underwhelming competition such as Connellsville and Albert Gallatin, the Cavaliers (10-4, 4-2) have given up just 36.6 points per game in their current win streak.
Imani Christian has also been playing its best basketball of the season over the past several weeks, as it has won its past five games after a tough 1-6 start. Four of those five wins have come against Class A Section 4 opponents.
Woodland Hills star hits mark
It's been a rough season thus far for the Woodland Hills girls team, which is 4-9 and is a little more than two weeks removed from a six-game losing streak, but one of its star players, Desiree Garland, gave them reason to celebrate last week.
In the Wolverines' 58-46 loss to Franklin Regional Jan. 11, Garland scored 14 points to give her 1,001 for her career. Garland, a senior guard, is averaging about 17 points per game this season.
The week ahead
The girls basketball schedule this week isn't particularly loaded with matchups between top teams in the area, but there is still one particularly good duel to be had on the boys side of play.
McKeesport, as previously mentioned, is one of the hottest teams around. Still, the Tigers are flying under the radar. Their previous loss came to Fox Chapel on Dec. 14, a game which Billy Urso scored on a putback just before the buzzer to give Fox Chapel a 55-53 overtime win.
The two meet again Friday at Fox Chapel in their final regular-season meeting.hsbasketball
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