Varsity Notebook: 'Henry Show' far from an Aliquippa tradition

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When Dravon Henry announced his college choice Monday, it wasn't a coincidence that he did it at the Aliquippa municipal building without any Aliquippa coaches present.

A number of high school players these days feel the need to have a news conference to reveal their college decision. Henry, a standout senior football player at Aliquippa, wanted to make a big deal of his choice. But his school and coaches didn't.

Henry decided he wanted to have a news conference. He pulled out the old "hat trick" of putting hats on the table to represent his top college choices. His mother and father sat by his side. Pitt, West Virginia and Miami hats were on the table. Then Henry put on the hat of West Virginia University. Henry made a verbal commitment to the Mountaineers.

Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac didn't attend the event and declined comment on the whole news conference thing. But this much is known: Henry wanted to have the whole show at Aliquippa High School, but the school and coaches said no thanks.

Zmijanac has never been a fan of showmanship. In past years, he used to laugh at high school players having news conferences. The Quips had many other big-time players before Henry and the school never staged a news conference for their college picks.

Sean Gilbert was the USA Today national defensive player of the year in 1988. He didn't have a news conference for his college choice. Neither did any other Aliquippa standouts such as Darrelle Revis, Jon Baldwin, Ty Law or Josh Lay.

In this day and age of high school players wanting the spotlight on themselves for their college choice, many might say the thinking of Aliquippa and its coaches is a welcome change.

The basketball shutout

The Wilkinsburg vs. Serra Catholic girls basketball game last Friday officially goes in the books as a 28-0 shutout win for Serra, regardless of the game lasting only one quarter.

Wilkinsburg decided to depart after the first quarter because of the snowy weather. WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said the game still counts and the final score is 28-0.

Could it be the first shutout in the history of WPIAL girls basketball? Maybe or maybe not. No one has records of all WPIAL girls games.

But there has been a shutout at least once before in WPIAL boys basketball, and what a coincidence that it also involved Wilkinsburg. In 1978, Wilkinsburg beat Kiski Area, 8-0. The game must have been a slowdown.

In 1969, there was almost another shutout in WPIAL boys basketball. Swissvale beat Ligonier, 19-1.

Incidentally, the Wilkinsburg girls have trouble scoring even in games that last four quarters. In two games after Serra, Wilkinsburg lost to Allderdice, 61-5, and to Sto-Rox, 65-13.

The fall of the Cavaliers

It was only two years ago that the Kiski Area girls team won 16 games. Three years ago, the Cavaliers went 19-4.

Now Kiski Area has trouble scoring double digits in a game.

It's hard to figure out how a program can fall so far, so fast. But Kiski Area lost its first three games this season by at least a 45-point margin. The Cavaliers lost to Hopewell, 67-6, to Butler, 52-12, and to Plum, 63-9.

Sports Mass

The 52nd annual Old Timers Memorial Service will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Mt. Lebanon. The service is for sports officials and other sports people from Western Pennsylvania who passed away in the past year. The Mass this year will be held in memory of, among others, former Shady Side Academy basketball star Pete Sauer, legendary former Midland basketball player Simmie Hill and baseball great Stan Musial, who is from Donora.

Staff of champions

At the Pittsburgh Coaches Corner Luncheon Tuesday, the four WPIAL championship football coaches were honored. During lunch, Central Catholic's Terry Totten and West Allegheny's Bob Palko spoke about their days as assistant coaches at Seton-LaSalle under Greg Gattuso in the late 1980s and early 1990s. What a staff it was.

Gattuso led Seton-LaSalle to the WPIAL Class AAA title in 1990. Palko and Totten were assistant coaches and both have won WPIAL and PIAA titles. Also on the staff under Gattuso was Lou Cerro, who went on to win WPIAL titles at Seton-LaSalle and Montour, and Bill Gallagher, who has won City League championships at Perry.

Gattuso, by the way, was named this week the new head coach at the University at Albany. He spent the past few years as an assistant at the University of Maryland. He also has been an assistant at Pitt and the head coach at Duquesne.

Quoting 'em

Totten, tongue planted firmly in his cheek, spoke at the luncheon about South Fayette coach Joe Rossi and his team's lethal passing game: "I sent some of my assistants over to South Fayette this summer and it was great because coach Rossi met with them and went over the passing game. It was really valuable for us. I think we're up to five passes a game now for us."

Top games

Section play in WPIAL boys and girls basketball began Thursday night. Two top boys games tonight are West Allegheny at Central Valley and Steel Valley at Elizabeth Forward.

A few top games Tuesday are Bethel Park at Upper St. Clair, Elizabeth Forward at West Mifflin and Quaker Valley at Sto-Rox.

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