East Xtra: Allderdice ready to state its case

Craig Meyer's high school basketball notebook

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To Allderdice boys basketball coach Buddy Valinsky, his team's upcoming appearance in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs is just that and nothing more.

He and his team do not see it as some kind of grand responsibility to carry the torch for the six-team City League, a league in which it is the lone remaining team on the boys side.

Simply, the Dragons are going to try to continue what they've done for much of this season -- win and hope that their run can persist.

"We are the only boys team left and obviously we're going to try to represent the City as best as we can," Valinsky said.

Exactly two weeks after it handed Obama Academy its first loss of the season in the City League championship game, Allderdice will play Hampton in the first round of the PIAA playoffs and hope to do something that hasn't been done often in recent years.

Since Schenley won a PIAA title in 2007, only one team from the City League has won a game in the state playoffs. The team that managed that feat just happened to be Allderdice in 2011, the season before Valinsky returned as head coach.

If there's any hope of repeating that accomplishment, the Dragons will have to rely on the sort of offensive balance that has paced them this season. Sophomore guard James Jackson leads the team in scoring at about 14 points per game, but several others average close to double figures, a group that includes sophomore guard Timothy Jackson, James' twin brother, senior guard DaVaughn Moultrie, and his twin, senior guard JaVaughn Moultrie and junior guard Ramon Creighton.

"We're able to score with different people and the team has accepted that really well," Valinsky said. "They've really matured that way. They don't care who the leading scorer is as long as we get a win."

With that scoring balance and some strong defensive play, the Dragons have won seven of their past eight, but will face a different challenge entirely with the Talbots. Three of Hampton's four losses this season came to undefeated New Castle and it has one of the WPIAL's top players in Pitt recruit Ryan Luther.

Luther's role in the game also extends beyond his skill set -- along with his twin brother, Collin, the Luthers will be one of four sets of twins participating in the game. Allderdice has three sets on its team.

Buccaneers short of perfect

Entering last weekend as the lone remaining unbeaten WPIAL girls basketball team at 25-0, Burrell fell short of perfection by one game as it lost to Seton-La Salle, 55-34, in the Class AA championship game.

With the Buccaneers finally suffering a loss, only two WPIAL girls teams since 1986 have managed to go through an entire season undefeated, both of which have occurred in the past five years -- Seton-La Salle in 2012 (30-0) and Mt. Lebanon in 2009 (31-0).

Burrell will look to rebound from the championship setback with a matchup Friday against Clarion-Limestone, which has a 16-9 record.

Eagles' wings clipped

For the second year in a row, Serra Catholic saw its WPIAL Class A title hopes dashed by Vincentian, which defeated the Eagles, 66-46, last Saturday.

In a 53-46 loss last season, Serra was smacked by a large, third-quarter Vincentian run that helped the Royals gain some separation and roll to the win. In the rematch, it was déjà vu all over again.

Serra pulled within two points early in the third quarter before Vincentian got a hot hand and took a commanding 20-point lead heading into the fourth.

"We went ice cold and they didn't miss one," Serra coach Bill Cleary said. "That's how you secure championships. They stepped up and made the plays to win the ball game."

Serra (23-3) will play Cochranton (19-5) in a PIAA first-round game Saturday at Hempfield. Serra defeated Cochranton, 67-43, in last year's first round.

Gators' streak ends

While last weekend's WPIAL championship games provided a fair share of drama, there was very little hand-wringing for one of the area's most successful boys basketball programs of the past five years.

With Kiski Area's loss to New Castle last Wednesday, Gateway was denied a spot in the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Gators, who lost to the Cavaliers on Feb. 22, finished 14-10 this season.

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

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