North Xtra: Vincentian's prolific year finally ends

Brad Everett's High School Basketball Notebook

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Well before the season started, Vincentian's George Yokitis knew his team would be as short as he has had in his seven seasons as coach.

There wasn't a regular taller than 6 feet 2, so Yokitis figured the style of play he has often referred to as "organized chaos" would have to become even more frantic.

The outcome saw Vincentian become the most potent offensive team the WPIAL has seen in two decades, thus fueling the Royals to another fantastic season.

It was business as usual this winter for Vincentian, which kept the scoreboard operators busy and racked up win after win. A fourth consecutive 20-win season came to an end last Friday when the Royals lost to WPIAL champion Lincoln Park, 99-64, in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal game. The Royals finished 24-4.

This team will likely most be remembered for a super-charged offense that poured in a whopping 90.5 points per game.

Lincoln Park was the only other WPIAL team to average more than 75 a game. Vincentian broke the century mark five times, scoring 115 against Sewickley Academy, the most by any WPIAL team this season.

It is believed that the last WPIAL team to average more than 90 points for an entire season was the 1991-92 Blackhawk team that featured Dante Calabria and went on to win the PIAA Class AAA title.

"We were as short as we've ever been, so we sort of thought before the year that we didn't want to get caught in half-court games," Yokitis said. "We worked diligently on our transition game and our half-court trapping."

The pace was fast. The trapping -- half- and full-court -- was endless. And it was as if the Royals were playing with a 10-second shot clock. It's a formula Yokitis has used in recent years, only the results had not led to scoring sprees quite this remarkable. The potency continued a trend that has seen the Royals increase their scoring average the past five seasons -- 64.1 to 67.9 to 74.2 to 83.7 to 90.5.

A pack of big scorers was led, of course, by a Wolf. Junior guard Ryan Wolf followed up a sophomore season that saw him average 21.3 points per game by pacing all North Xtra area players with a 23.8-point average. Wolf got off to an incredible start, scoring 33, 38 and 46 points in the first three games. His constant scoring kept Vincentian's scorekeeper -- Wolf's dad, Frank -- very busy.

Also pouring in points was a cast that included fellow starters Jim Kenna and Kevin Fischer -- both seniors -- junior Jay Cortese and sophomore Jamison Nee. Nee was second on the team with 14.1 points per game, and Kenna and Cortese also averaged in double figures.

The way Vincentian plays, it's bound to give up a lot of points. That played a part in the Royals falling short of reaching the WPIAL and PIAA title games. They surrendered a WPIAL-playoff record 110 against Monessen in the semifinals -- the highest scoring WPIAL playoff game in history -- and then 99 in the season-ending loss to Lincoln Park. For the season, the Royals allowed 70.4 points per game, sixth most in the WPIAL.

Yokitis said he will miss a three-man senior class consisting of Kenna, Fischer and Greg MacQueen, whom Yokitis called a "great leader." The class went 99-13 in their career, winning three section titles, two WPIAL titles and making the semifinals two other times.

"I think about how incredible that is," Yokitis said. "I couldn't be more proud of them."

Next season's squad could be just as potent as this season's. Wolf, Nee and Cortese return, as do top reserves Ian Taylor, Greg Kaniecki, Connor Kreutzer and Jack Monahan.

"We'll have a lot of depth next year," Yokitis said. "We'll have eight seniors. As long as we work hard, we should challenge again for the section [championship] and hopefully challenge for the WPIAL [championship]."

Season ends for Trojans

The team that ended Vincentian's season in 2013 handed Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic its final loss this season.

District 6 champion Bishop Carroll knocked off North Catholic, 63-59, in overtime in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal game. North Catholic finished 17-11. The Trojans were the runners-up to Vincentian in Section 2 and made it to the WPIAL semifinals, where they fell to Lincoln Park.

Dom Robb, a 6-6 senior center, averaged a team-best 17.6 points per game for the Trojans, who played one of the most aggressive non-section schedules in the WPIAL. Among their opponents were North Allegheny, Mars Area, Seton-LaSalle, Greensburg Central Catholic and Johnsonburg.

Like Vincentian, North Catholic should be strong again next season. John Savulchak, Timon Gribbin and Christian Goetz will be some of the top returnees.

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