East Xtra: Greensburg Central Catholic trying to continue dominance

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The Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball team has owned Class AA Section 3 in recent seasons.

The Centurions have won or shared a piece of the section title in each of the past four years and are coming off one of the best seasons in the program's history.

GCC won the section title outright last season with a 12-0 record in section games and recorded a program-record 23 wins. Unfortunately for the Centurions, that did not translate into a deep playoff run.

The Centurions were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the WPIAL playoffs by Burrell and in the second round of the PIAA playoffs by Lakeview.

"We didn't know what kind of team we were going to have," Centurions coach Greg Bisignani said. "We had a great season. We had a very successful season. Teams changed their defense on us and gave us a lot of looks during the season. We are going to be more prepared to make a deeper playoff run [this season]."

The Centurions (4-0, 1-0) have many familiar faces returning from the 2012-13 squad, including three starters. Leading the way is all-section pick Brian Graytok.

Graytok averaged 20.7 points per game last year and is off to a hot start this season, averaging 23.8 points per game through four games.

"Brian is one of those guys who can score multiple ways," Bisignani said. "He is pretty versatile and has a knack for scoring and will be taking a large percentage of our shots. He distributes the ball very well, too."

Also returning will be the coaches son, Collin Bisignani. A 6-foot-8 senior, he is a force to be reckoned with in the post for the Centurions.

"We need to get more presence from him in the post," coach Bisignani said. "My wife always yells at me to treat him like everyone else and I can't. I am probably a little harder on him and I think he knows why. I am a dad and coach, too, and it is a great experience. He is a great kid."

The third returning starter is senior point guard Christian Hyland.

GCC received a new addition to the team via transfer with Billy Hipp, who played at Bishop McCort in Johnstown last season.

"He is our fourth starter," Bisignani said. "He can score and is very unselfish. It is good and it's bad with getting transfers. They have to learn all over again. There are a lot of kids who left Central who are starting at other schools. Sometimes it's a luxury and sometimes it is a hardship. He is a great kid and we are happy to have him."

Hipp has already made his mark at GCC, eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau for his career in the Centurions' first section game against Shady Side Academy last week.

Rounding out the starting five is 6-3 junior guard Romano Sebastiani.

"He has a high basketball IQ," Bisignani said. "He gives us a lot of versatility. He has been giving us great minutes this year."

Those five along with a deep bench have orchestrated the Centurions to an unblemished record so far this season, including starting the season off with wins against two Class AAAA teams in McKeesport Area and Hempfield Area at the Hempfield tipoff tournament.

The Centurions picked up their first section win last Friday with an 82-68 decision against Shady Side Academy. Graytok led the team with 30 points. Also scoring in double figures that game was Sebastiani with 15 and Hyland added 11.

"It's a big win," Bisignani said. "The first time on the road -- to get out on the road and beat a good team. We are going to focus one game at a time and it was a big one on the road."

Bisignani believes this may be the hardest year to come out on top in a very competitive section.

"I think our section might be the best in Class AA from top to bottom," Bisignani said. "Jeannette is so well coached and a rivalry and anyone can win that game on any night. South Allegheny has four starters coming back. Shady Side is only going to get better. I think our section [title] is up for grabs."

For a program that has been one of the elite for such a long time, GCC continues to try to make that next step and make it to a WPIAL and PIAA title game, something they accomplished in 2010 but lost in both.

"It is our mentality," Bisignani said. "Once the kids have been on the team for a while they see what it takes. They learn how to work hard and it builds on itself.

"We have a good program and it is easy to do good things when you have good kids and we are happy to be a part of it. Hopefully, things will keep working out for us."


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