East Xtra: Obama continues City domination

Craig Meyer's high school basketball notebook

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The school bears the name of the current president of the United States, so it's not as if recognition is a problem for Obama Academy.

But in just its third season of competition, the Eagles boys basketball team is already making a name for itself as a winner.

Through its first 14 games of the season, Obama was undefeated, making it the first City League team in the past decade to accomplish that feat. Even the uber-talented Schenley teams that went a combined 54-6 in two seasons from 2006-08 (the first of which featured both Iowa State star DeAndre Kane and Dallas Mavericks forward DeJuan Blair) suffered at least one loss in their first 14 games.

It would be one thing for the Eagles to have been undefeated to this point, but what's been more impressive has been how they have achieved it.

Four of those victories have come against schools from the WPIAL's largest classification (Class AAAA), two of which had winning records, as of Jan. 27 -- 12-5 Upper St. Clair and 11-6 Franklin Regional. There was also a 19-point win against Class AAA No. 2 Central Valley on Dec. 21 and most recently, Obama defeated Class A No. 2 Vincentian Academy, 88-84, beating the high-scoring Royals at their own game.

Then again, it's not as if the Eagles shy away from those types of games. Through their first 14 wins, they are averaging a City League-best 73.6 points per game and have scored more than 80 points in three of their past six games.

At the center of the offense has been 6-foot-5 senior D.J. Porter, who is averaging 24.8 points per game, a mark that (as of Jan. 20) ranked him seventh among all WPIAL and City League players. Porter, the son of former Pitt standout and Duquesne coach Darelle Porter, has scholarship offers from Buffalo, Ohio, St. Bonaventure and Youngstown State, according to Rivals.com.

Obama coach Nate Lofton could not be reached for comment.

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, the chance of Obama finishing with a perfect record appears to be attainable. The combined record of its five remaining local opponents, as of Jan. 27, is only 26-42, with 10-3 Allderdice standing as the toughest challenger.

Mount Pleasant on a tear

Only a little more than a month ago, the Mount Pleasant boys basketball team was mired in a 1-4 start, one in which it averaged just 48.4 points per game. Since that time, though, it has been a drastically different story for the team.

The Vikings have won nine of their past 10 games, a stretch that helped them build a 7-1 mark in Class AAA Section 3 play.

During that time, their defense has been extremely stout, allowing an average of only 47 points per game.

Just one of their opponents in that time scored more than 60 points and that came in the Vikings' lone loss in that span, a 76-58 setback against Uniontown.

Knights on the march

Much like the Mount Pleasant boys, the Norwin girls have also been on a hot streak. The Knights had won their past five games and seven of their past eight before a scheduled non-section game Wednesday against Gateway.

During that run, they had limited opponents to 41.9 points per game. Those seven victories included three games in which they held opponents to fewer than 30 points. A sophomore, guard Alayna Gribble was averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game, which ranked her among the top 25 players in the WPIAL.

Weekly watch

Hempfield Area (14-2, 8-0 Class AAAA Section 1) at Kiski Area (12-4, 8-1), 7:45 p.m. Tuesday -- The Spartans have lost just once since Dec. 7, a run that included a 45-40 victory against the Cavaliers. Interestingly, Kiski has not lost since then and is just a half-game behind Hempfield. The game will feature two of the top scorers in the WPIAL in Kason Harrell of the Spartans (22.5 points per game) and Mike Simmons of the Cavaliers (20.5 points per game).

Plum (15-2, 9-2 Class AAAA Section 2) at Fox Chapel (14-4, 7-4), 7:30 p.m. Tuesday -- The Mustangs had won nine of their past 10 games, with one of those being a narrow 60-57 home win against the Foxes on Jan. 10. After a drought in which it lost three of four games, Fox Chapel has won its past three and has one of the most dynamic scorers in the WPIAL in senior guard Matt D'Amico (23.7 points per game, as of Jan. 20). If they hope to win the section title, the Foxes need this one, as they trail the Mustangs by two games.

Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG


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