North Xtra: She ran out of moves on court
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As a junior, Raven Brown averaged 17.3 points per game and helped the Mount Alvernia girls team reach the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
As a senior, she is nowhere to be found among the area scoring leaders.
Brown wasn't hurt this season. She wanted to play ... badly. But Mount Alvernia officials canceled the team's season in late November because of a lack of numbers and, what the school called, "a lack of commitment and effort."
Because all of that went down in November, Brown, who lives in Stanton Heights, was left out in the cold. It was too late to transfer to another school and Mount Alvernia, which is located in Millvale, couldn't establish a co-operative agreement with another school in such a short time.
"I didn't play anywhere," said Brown, a 5-foot-7 guard. "It was tough. I did go watch some games ... I helped out at a couple Wilkinsburg games because my former coach [Barb Baldwin] is over there."
Thankfully, Brown established enough of a resume that college coaches have not forgotten about her. It also helps that her older sister, Renee, was a starter this season at Edinboro University, which won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title and played in the NCAA Division II tournament.
Raven Brown said three colleges have offered her full scholarships and a few others have offered partials. She has not made up her mind where she will go, but she wants to play basketball at the next level.
"I've been playing since I was like 5," she said. "So not playing was hard. There wasn't even an AAU team or anything like that out there because everyone was playing in high school."
She will get an opportunity to play in at least a couple contests this spring.
There are a number of all-star games in the area and Brown has been asked to participate in a couple, although she isn't sure in which ones she will play.
"It will be nice to finally get out on a court and play in a game," she said.
Brown will not play AAU basketball this summer. She said say doesn't want to run the risk of being injured. She is considering playing in the women's summer league at the Market House on the South Side. The league comprises mostly college players.
As part of its lead up to the NCAA tournament, ESPN showed clips of some of the best all-time dunks. Naturally, His Airness, Michael Jordan, and Dr. J, Julius Erving, had spectacular dunks ... and there was a clip of Pitt's Jerome Lane shattering the backboard with his monster slam at the fieldhouse.
The show sparked an office conversation about the best dunks involving area high school teams.
Colleague Mike White, who has seen more area high school games than just about anyone, remembers DeJuan Blair of Schenley having a couple nice ones. He said one that stands out in his mind came from Brashear's Major Harris, who starred at quarterback at West Virginia in the late 1980s. Harris got free on a fastbreak, bounced the ball in the lane toward the basket and then went up, caught it and dunked it with two hands. An impressive feat on a fastbreak.
Here, in no particular order, are the best high school slams we have witnessed. Sorry, there's no video to go with our selections.
Perhaps the best was by Schenley's Larry Anderson, who went on to play at UNLV, because it came in the biggest game of the season against one of the biggest players in the state. In the 1978 PIAA Class AAA championship game at Hersheypark Arena, Anderson got loose on a fastbreak and dunked over Lebanon's 7-foot center Sam Bowie, who would go on to play at Kentucky and in the NBA.
Schenley won the title, 51-50, and it was a good thing Bowie ducked when Anderson reached the rim.
In his senior year at Perry, Rod Rutherford, who would go on to play quarterback at Pitt, put on a show against Uniontown in a first-round PIAA Class AAAA playoff game at Allderdice in 1998. Part of the performance was an impressive 360-degree spin on a slam.
Allderdice's William "Man" Herndon, who went on to play at the University of Massachusetts, had two of the better dunks we've seen. One came at Central Catholic's Alumni Hall in a holiday tournament. Herndon came from nowhere -- some said he dropped out of the rafters -- for a monster two-handed slam off a rebound. The other came at Schenley in a City League game and on that one Herndon appeared to be headed out of bounds under the basket when he reached back and grabbed the basketball and then slammed it home.
In the Roundball Classic in 1974, Peabody's Melvin Bennett, who would play at Pitt, and Ambridge guard Doug Saylor hooked up for a highlight-reel dunk.
Saylor flipped a no-look pass toward the basket at the Civic Arena and Bennett grabbed it and finished with a two-handed, back-to-the-basket slam.
Matt Clement received a number of accolades last year when, in his first season as Butler Area High School's boys coach, the Golden Tornado won its first 13 games. But his team stumbled down the stretch, lost five of its final eight, including a 49-45 defeat to Peters Township in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, and finished 16-5.
This season, Butler has a 16-10 record, but Clement has done a much better job. The Golden Tornado lost six of its first 10 games but has come on to win five of six, including a 50-47 victory against No. 1-seed Shaler in the WPIAL Class AAAA tournament.
Shouldn't Clement's name be mentioned more this year?
Butler played City League champion Allderdice Wednesday night at North Allegheny in a PIAA second-round game.
First Published March 17, 2011 12:00 am