Jacob St. George kept a family tradition going by winning a WPIAL basketball championship last Friday.
St. George, a senior guard at Central Valley High School, is now part of a surreal WPIAL championship lineage that goes back more than 70 years and spans four generations.
It started when John Kinkead won a WPIAL title with Monaca High School in 1942. Thirty years later, his son, Mike, won a championship at Monaca. One of Mike's teammates was Brad Davis, a sophomore in 1972 who played 15 seasons in the NBA.
John Kinkead's grandson was Jeremy Huber, who won a WPIAL championship with Blackhawk in 1996 (Huber's mother, Miriam Kinkead, was John's daughter and Mike's sister).
Now comes St. George, whose mother, Stacy, is the daughter of Mike Kinkead. St. George played a big role in the Class AAA title game last week, scoring 17 points as Central Valley beat Chartiers Valley, 70-69, in double overtime.
"My dad started telling me last year about this lineage of championships in the family," Stacy St. George said. "He had a starting lineup of players worked out."
Mike Kinkead, 59, was at Palumbo Center last week to watch his grandson win a championship.
"He was just thrilled and tickled pink," Stacy St. George said.
John Kinkead is 86 and listened to some of his great grandson's games on the radio or Internet.
"It really is amazing," Mrs. St. George said. "It's one thing for them all to be players, but the fact that they all won championships is pretty impressive."
The New Castle boys won their third consecutive WPIAL title with a perfect record, but coach Ralph Blundo said this one felt a little different.
"I don't know. It kind of felt just a little more special," Blundo said. "Maybe just because I don't know if a lot of people thought we would be as good this season."
When the team got back to New Castle High School after winning the championship, Blundo said 300 to 400 fans were there to greet them.
"That happened in the past, too, but it just seemed like even more people were there this year," Blundo said.
New Castle became only the eighth team in WPIAL history to win three consecutive titles, but it is the second time it happened at New Castle. The Red Hurricanes also did it in 1997-99.
The coach of those teams was John Sarandrea, who now is the superintendent of schools at New Castle.
Although Anthony Richards is only 5 feet 8, he has been a big piece in all three New Castle championships.
Richards, a senior, is a starting guard who is a four-year varsity member, has more than 1,000 career points and is the all-time leading 3-point shooter at New Castle. His quickness and toughness also make him an excellent defender. His father, Dave, has been along for the championship rides as a New Castle assistant coach.
Anthony Richards had some emotional comments after winning the third championship.
"Growing up, you always want to win, but you never expect this. This is unheard of. It's unbelievable," Richards said. "And to do it with these teammates and a coach [Blundo] who treats us like his own kids, and to have my dad on the bench, it just doesn't happen to anyone."
Championship games attendance
Attendance at Palumbo Center for the championships was good again, according to WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley.
O'Malley said close to 13,000 attended three championship sessions over two days. The number could have been much higher because of the ticket demand for the New Castle-Hampton game. But the game was sold out with capacity a little more than 4,000.
O'Malley said attendance for the two Saturday sessions was about 7,000. Attendance last year was 13,500. Attendance in 2012 was 14,357 and the best in recent years was 14,900 in 2007, when capacity at Palumbo was more than 5,000. Attendance in 2011 was only 11,700.
While attendance was good, check out what attendance was in the 1960s for the WPIAL tournament. Back then, only section champions made the playoffs and the entire tournament was played at either the Civic Arena or Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.
In 1966, the WPIAL conducted playoff games in the largest classification over five nights at the Civic Arena. Attendance was 48,327 (almost 10,000 per night). Attendance for six nights at Pitt was 28,595.
Check this out
* Allderdice has three sets of identical twins on its roster. Early in the season, coach Buddy Valinsky termed the situation "Twinsanity" and the story even made national news. When Allderdice plays Hampton in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Saturday, it will be "Twinsanity Plus." Besides the Allderdice twins, Hampton has fraternal twins Collin and Ryan Luther.
* By beating Eisehnhower in the District 10 consolation game, the Kennedy Catholic boys qualified for the PIAA Class A playoffs. But the team was disqualified for using a player in the game that was academically ineligible. Kennedy Catholic turned itself into the PIAA Monday. PIAA rules state that a team must forfeit any game where an ineligible player is used. Eisenhower is now in the PIAA playoffs.
* Jonathan Marshall is one of the best-known basketball players in Clairton High School history. His huge hands are legendary and he used them to score 56 points in a 1969 Clairton game. Now he's back at Clairton as the school's girls basketball coach. Clairton hired Marshall, 63, last week. He went on to play at Penn State and is still one of the leading rebounders in Penn State history.