North/South/East/West Xtra: These guys working on transition

Brad Everett's high school basketball notebook

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Brett Brumbaugh led his team to the summit of Pennsylvania high school football Sunday.

A day later, he was already gearing up for his next sport.

"We took the day off," he said Monday. "We'll probably start practicing tomorrow."

Brumbaugh and a few of his South Fayette teammates, as well as players from the other WPIAL schools who participated in the PIAA championships -- Central Catholic and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic -- have been transitioning from the turf to the hardwood this week, welcomed additions to their respective basketball teams.

"The kids are just happy to be in a warm building away from the elements," North Catholic basketball coach Dave Long said, laughing.

A few of Long's players -- most notably P.J. Fulmore -- helped North Catholic win its first PIAA Class A title. Brumbaugh and South Fayette captured the Class AA championship. Central Catholic was the Class AAAA runner-up.

As much as their return is anticipated, the dual-sport athletes are being eased back into the thick of things by their basketball coaches, who understand the four-month football season wasn't easy on their bodies.

Then there's the task of getting some practices under their belts and working to gain a level of comfort with a sport they've played very little of in recent months.

"It's a grueling season so we usually let them [make their decision of when they want to come back] individually," Central Catholic coach Chuck Crummie said. "Some of them might want to take a week off. It's probably going to be an individual decision on their part on how many days of practice they need."

Central Catholic has played its season as scheduled thus far, while South Fayette and North Catholic have both postponed a handful of games. Coming into the week, the only games South Fayette and North Catholic had played came the first weekend of the season. South Fayette also postponed two games this week, so the Lions won't play again until next Friday in the Peters Township holiday tournament.

Brumbaugh said by that time he and his classmates will be ready to take the court and try to continue their winning ways.

"I think [the transition] will be tough, but at the same time you just want to keep winning," he said. "I think the competitiveness will take over from there."

Meanwhile, North Catholic will welcome back Fulmore, Ryan Kirby, Ryan Long, Timon Gribbin and Darian Mercurio.

Dave Long said those players all stopped by practice Monday and a few even participated for parts of it, but he said he couldn't estimate on when they could be ready to return to action. North Catholic plays at Kennedy Catholic Friday and plays host to North Hills next Monday.

Long had a good line when talking about not wanting to be pushy about the players returning to the court.

"How many times did P.J. carry the ball [in the championship], 30-some times? I can't ask a guy like that to come to practice the next day. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to carry the ball one time and then gone to church the next morning," Long said.

Long, just like Crummie and South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure, hope the success their players achieved in football will carry over to basketball.

"I told them after practice that they not only have to bring their skills and talents, but also that swagger that comes with an accomplishment like that," Long said.

"We're hoping the spirit of the entire season kind of rubs off on the basketball team."

Pitt recruits take the court

Of the six WPIAL players the Pitt football team has gotten commitments from in the Class of 2014, three are playing basketball this winter. All of them are making an impact, too.

Elizabeth Forward's JaQuan Davidson, North Allegheny's Elijah Zeise and Fox Chapel's Quintin Wirginis play on teams that were a combined 16-1 through Tuesday.

Davidson, who averaged 22 points per game as a junior, scored a game-high 22 points in Elizabeth Forward's overtime win against Steel Valley last Friday.

Zeise scored in double figures in three of North Allegheny's first four games.

Wirginis is one of the top players off the bench for Fox Chapel. Wirginis, who did not play his sophomore or junior seasons, is fighting back from a foot injury that caused him to miss the entire football season.

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