2013-14 Boys Basketball Preview: Top 10 Storylines

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1. THEM AGAIN: The New Castle and Hampton boys are ranked 1-2 in the WPIAL Class AAAA rankings. They met for the Class AAAA championship last season and played for the 2012 AAA championship. Both teams will be moving back to Class AAA next season.

2. TOP 100 MATERIAL: It's a good year for top individual talent in WPIAL girls basketball. Three players are ranked in the top 100 in the country by ESPN's HoopGurlz. Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias, a 6-foot-3 center, is ranked No. 38. Seton-LaSalle has two in the top 100 -- 6-foot forward Naje Gibson (No. 59) and 5-10 guard Yacine Diop (No. 84). Mathias has signed with Duke, and Gibson and Diop with Pitt.

3. CENTRAL VALLEY UPRISING: Central Valley has had plenty of sports success this year with football, girls soccer and girls golf. Basketball could be next. The Central Valley boys are the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked WPIAL Class AAA team.

4. TWO-SPORT STANDOUTS: New Castle's Malik Hooker and Beaver Falls' Elijah Cottrill are back for their senior years after making the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 as juniors. Both Hooker and Cottrill have already committed to Division I colleges ... for football. Hooker is an Ohio State recruit while Cottrill chose Akron.

5. FUTURE PANTHERS: Over the past 10-15 years, you haven't seen many Pitt recruits playing around the WPIAL. But this year, you can watch two. Ryan Luther, a 6-foot-8½ guard-forward at Hampton, signed with Pitt last month. Maverick Rowan, a 6-6 sophomore guard at Lincoln Park, made a verbal commitment to Pitt this summer.

6. DOUBLE TAKE: A school has won boys and girls WPIAL titles in the same season only 12 times. Could Seton-LaSalle make it 13? The Seton-LaSalle girls are No. 1 in Class AA while the Seton-LaSalle boys are No. 2 in Class AA.

7. RETURN TO GLORY? Phil Pergola won WPIAL and PIAA titles as Ringgold's boys coach from 1986-2004. Now he's back with the Rams after leaving California High. He has coached 43 seasons at four schools and has 579 wins.

8. WATCH THE WARRIORS: Elizabeth Forward hasn't had much to boast about in basketball, but many are talking about the Warriors in Class AAA. One reason is 6-4 JaQuan Davidson, a Pitt football recruit. The other is 6-11 George Prota, who transferred from Serra Catholic.

9. SECTION 3 SUPREMACY: Last year, for the first time in WPIAL history, four teams from one section made the semifinals when four from WPIAL Section 3 made the final four in Class AAAA. Will the section be as strong this year?

10. MORE PERFECTION?: Last year, New Castle became the first team to win consecutive WPIAL titles with perfect records. Can the Red Hurricanes possibly go through another WPIAL season undefeated?


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