Court Report: Section showdown is a really hot ticket

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Hampton High School will likely stop selling tickets because of a probable sellout. The school has parameters on who can buy tickets and when. Extra bleachers will be brought into the gymnasium because of the size of the crowd.

What, is Justin Bieber or some other star coming to Hampton? Nope. It's just a basketball game.

New Castle plays at Hampton Tuesday and it's hard to remember a regular-season boys game generating so much interest in the WPIAL.

Hampton started selling student tickets Thursday. Today and Monday, the school will sell tickets to the general public, and some tickets also were given to New Castle to sell. The Red Hurricanes have a big following.

"We're bringing in some bleachers from the swimming pool for the cheerleaders to sit. That will open up a little bit more seating for fans," Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone said.

Everything from the present, past and players generate interest for this game. First, both New Castle and Hampton are undefeated. They are Nos. 1 and 2 in WPIAL Class AAAA rankings and 2-3 in state Class AAAA rankings. They met in the 2012 WPIAL Class AAA championship game and the 2013 AAAA title game.

Plus, Hampton features senior Ryan Luther, a 6-foot-8 Pitt recruit, while New Castle has 6-2 senior Malik Hooker, an Ohio State football recruit and also one of the WPIAL's best basketball players. Both teams also have other talented players.

"Last year was crazy when we played here and it was sold out," Cardone said. "But we started getting phone calls about this game two weeks ago. People would call the athletic office and want to know about the game and we would ask, 'Who are you?' They might say something like, 'Oh, I'm just a Pitt fan and I want to see Ryan Luther play.' People like that have been coming out of the woodwork.

"But we both have games before Tuesday, so we better worry about those birds first."

Fantastic Friday

As far as big games go, this is one of the best Friday nights of the season.

All four classifications have games matching teams that are either tied for the section lead or near the top of the section standings. Some of the best games are: North Allegheny at New Castle, Kiski Area at Hempfield, Fox Chapel at Plum, Gateway at Central Catholic, Blackhawk at Central Valley, Uniontown at Mount Pleasant, South Fayette at Montour, Beaver Falls at Neshannock, Lincoln Park at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Wilkinsburg at Winchester Thurston.

Runnin' Royals

The Vincentian boys are scoring big -- but without any big guys.

The Royals have opened eyes by averaging 92 points per game, and they are doing it without a starter taller than 6-2. The Royals starting five is 5-9 Ryan Wolf, 6-1 Kevin Fischer, 6-1 Jamison Nee, 6-2 Jay Cortese and 6-2 Jim Kenna.

Vincentian is ranked No. 2 in Class A and racks up points with a fairly balanced lineup. Wolf averages 27. After that, Nee averages 15, Kenna 11, Cortese 9 and Fischer 8.

Block party

It's an average game when Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias reaches double figures in points and rebounds. But against Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic last Saturday, Mathias had almost as many blocks as points. She had 14 blocked shots in a 48-44 loss. Mathias also had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Mathias is a 6-3 senior who is ranked among the top 100 players in the country by ESPN's HoopGurlz. She is a Duke recruit who is averaging 16 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks a game.

Check this out

* Archbishop Carroll is the No. 1-ranked Class AAA boys team in the state, but also No. 12 in the country in the Maxpreps.com rankings. Carroll features 6-foot-6 Derrick Jones, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 13 player in the junior class. Jones already has offers from Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova and many other colleges.

* Tyra Buss of Mount Carmel, Ill., scored 60 and 66 points in back-to-back games recently. An Indiana University recruit, she made 39 of 73 shots, including 14 of 32 3-pointers, and raised her season average to 47.4 points per game.


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