High school notebook: WPIAL girls basketball scoring leaders will face off in first round of playoffs
February 12, 2016 12:00 AM
Might Imani Christian freshman Cali Konek finally meet her match in the scoring department Saturday?
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When the WPIAL matched the Quigley girls basketball team against Imani Christian in a first-round playoff game, the league unknowingly set up an historical showdown.
Shots will fly at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when the two teams meet in a Class A game at North Allegheny. Imani Christian has freshman scoring sensation Cali Konek, who led the WPIAL in the regular season with a surreal scoring average of 45.9 points per game. It is the highest average ever for a WPIAL girl.
Quigley’s Gabbie Smith was the second-leading scorer in the regular season at 30.1.
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Never before have the top two scorers in WPIAL girls basketball met in a playoff game.
“Are you serious, it has never happened?” said Imani Christian coach Tru Dixon. “It’s going to be a beautiful game.”
Only three times in the past 31 years have two girls from the same classification been 1-2 in the WPIAL in scoring. But they never met in the playoffs. In 2007, it was Southmoreland’s Vanessa Abel and Elizabeth Forward’s Cassy Sanderson. In 1992, it was Geibel’s Shelley Bortz and Deer Lakes’ Margo Barr. In 1986, it was New Castle’s Lorri Johnson and Chartiers Valley’s Katie Collins.
Quigley is the No. 3 seed for the Class A tournament and Imani Christian No. 14.
“I don’t think this will be a personal showdown,” Dixon said. “Cali will take her shots when she is open, regardless of who is across the table. She’s going to take her 40 shots, and that’s the reality.”
When friends meet
Chartiers Valley boys coach Tim McConnell and Hempfield coach Bill Swan have been close friends for two decades. Swan traveled with McConnell to Philadelphia four times in the past few months to watch McConnell’s son, T.J., play for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
Now the two friends must be coaching foes.
Chartiers Valley plays Hempfield in a first-round Class AAAA game Wednesday. This will be the first time McConnell and Swan oppose each other. After they saw their matchup on the brackets at the WPIAL meeting Tuesday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Green Tree, the barbs started to fly between the two.
Swan was yelling out Chartiers Valley’s offensive sets in the hotel ballroom.
“Get ready for ‘slice 1, magic, nets’ — what else?” Swan said. “Oh yeah, ‘smash!’ ”
“I don’t even like him,” McConnell said, tongue firmly in cheek.
Chartiers Valley is the No. 2 seed and Hempfield No. 15.
“He’s Apollo Creed. We’re Rocky Balboa,” Swan said.
The first time
As section champions go, this was a season for first-timers in WPIAL girls basketball.
Four teams won section championships for the first time in school history: Canon-McMillan (AAAA), South Fayette (AAA), Ellis School (A) and Jefferson-Morgan (A).
Making their points
• Sophomore Darton McIntire of Waynesburg led WPIAL boys basketball in scoring this year with an average of 25.8. It’s the fourth-lowest scoring average to lead the WPIAL since 2000.
• Latrobe had two players average more than 20 points in the regular season — Austin Butler (25.7) and Sean Graytok (20.0).
• North Hills’ Nick Smith averaged 23 points to become the first North Hills player to average at least 20 since Mike Yoest (22.9) in 1987. Yoest went on to play at West Virginia.
• The four highest scorers in WPIAL girls basketball were all from Class A. Besides Konek and Smith, the others were Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic’s Sam Breen and Ellis School’s Dayna Rouse. Never before have the top four scorers been in one class.
• Jordan Marks resigned as Sto-Rox boys basketball coach.
• Indiana hired John Allen Snyder as its new football coach. Snyder is a former Indiana lineman, graduating in 2000.
Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.
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