North Xtra: The Bradleys celebrate notable year

Brad Everett's high school basketball notebook

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Films such as "12 Years a Slave" and "Dallas Buyers Club" were some of the most critically acclaimed of the past year.

Unfortunately for them, none were given the one award more prestigious than an Oscar -- a "Bradley."

The Bradleys highlight the best of the 2013-14 district high school basketball season.

Here is one writer's take on who provided the best performances among North Xtra area schools.

Player of the Year -- Ryan Luther, Hampton. As was the case for most of his high school career, Luther, a 6-foot-8 senior, was one of the most difficult players to defend in the WPIAL. His tremendous inside-outside game allowed him to score on drives, dunks, post-ups, jumpers and 3-pointers. Luther followed up his October commitment to Pitt by averaging 21.8 points per game his senior season. He missed three games midseason with an ankle injury, but that didn't deter Hampton, which won two of those games -- including an overtime triumph against North Allegheny -- behind the strong play of Luther's twin brother, Collin.

Coach of the Year -- Joe Lafko, Hampton. One of the least talked about "excellent coaches" in the WPIAL. If it weren't for New Castle's amazing three-year title run, Lafko would probably have a few WPIAL championships on his resume. Lafko guided Hampton to the WPIAL title game for the third season in a row and sixth time in the past nine seasons. Hampton's lone championship in that span came in 2006. Over the past six seasons, Lafko's teams have compiled a 135-33 record.

Pick Five -- Matt D'Amico, Fox Chapel; Ryan Luther, Hampton; Elijah Zeise, North Allegheny; Dom Robb, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic; Ryan Wolf, Vincentian. D'Amico's smooth jump shot led Fox Chapel to a lot of wins in his career. He averaged 22.6 points per game this season and became Fox Chapel's all-time leading scorer. Luther also earned a Bradley as Player of the Year his junior season. Zeise, a Pitt football recruit, wasn't a big scorer, but his size, rebounding and elite defensive play made him arguably North Allegheny's most indispensable player. Robb, a 6-6 center, averaged 17.6 points per game and helped North Catholic reach the WPIAL Class A semifinals. Wolf (23.8 ppg) fought through a back injury to lead all North Xtra players in scoring.

Best Game -- Monessen 110, Vincentian 99 on Feb. 25. Sure, Vincentian didn't come out on top, but this Class A semifinal game was the highest scoring playoff game in WPIAL history. This will tell you a lot about Vincentian's high-powered offense: the Royals did not shoot the ball very well and still scored 99 points. The Royals averaged 90.5 points per game, which is believed to be the most by a WPIAL team in more than two decades.

And for the girls ...

Player of the Year -- Brenna Wise, Vincentian. A two-time Bradley winner, Wise, a 6-1 junior forward, further enhanced her status as one of the WPIAL's top talents. Wise tallied 19.4 points per game in leading Vincentian to WPIAL and PIAA Class A titles. Wise was at her best in the biggest games, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds in the WPIAL championship, 38 points in the PIAA semifinals, and 21 points in the PIAA final.

Coach of the Year -- Ron Moncrief, Vincentian. All he does is win championships. Moncrief helped the Royals become WPIAL royalty again by winning their third consecutive Class A title and second ever PIAA title. The Royals have been to the WPIAL final five times in Moncrief's eight seasons and have a 105-9 record over the past four.

Pick Five -- Erin Mathias, Fox Chapel; Abby Gonzales, North Allegheny; Sam Breen, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic; Mallory Heinle, St. Joseph; Brenna Wise, Vincentian. Mathias, a 6-4 senior center and Duke recruit, averaged 16.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. Mathias was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. Gonzales, a sophomore point guard, played like a senior in helping North Allegheny reach the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA semifinals. Breen was the WPIAL's most productive freshman. A 6-foot-1 forward, Breen contributed 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Heinle (23.5) was second in the WPIAL in scoring during the regular season. Wise's 38 points against Bishop Guilfoyle were the most by a WPIAL player in the PIAA playoffs.

Best Game -- North Catholic 53, Vincentian 51 on Feb. 6. In the final girls game played at North Catholic's Don Graham Court, the Trojanettes pulled out the thrilling win after Abby Goetz's layup -- which seemingly hung on the rim for about an hour -- fell through just as the buzzer sounded.


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