North/South/East/West Xtra: It's already a basketball season to remember
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They're the type of moments that send chills down your spine.
It's the final seconds of a hotly contested game between two excellent teams, when a player steps up and makes the decisive shot, sending his team to victory while leaving a long-lasting memory for those who witnessed it.
In less than a month's worth of games, the WPIAL already has seen a couple of these.
Penn-Trafford's Dorian Stevens was the latest hero, as he hit a 3-pointer from the wing with 1.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Warriors (7-2) a thrilling 73-72 win against Bethel Park (8-1) last Saturday in the Shady Side Academy tournament.
"It's definitely one to remember," said Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik.
What made Stevens' basket even more significant is that it capped a stunning comeback by Penn-Trafford, which trailed by 18 points in the third quarter. The Warriors made a statement that they are a contender in Class AAAA by earning a win against the fifth-ranked team.
"It definitely serves as a momentum builder," Yarosik added. "It's a signature win for the program and a signature win for [Section 1.]"
Hampton got a clutch basket by star junior Ryan Luther with 1.8 seconds remaining to help the Talbots edge arch-rival Mars, 59-58, on Dec. 11. The teams entered the game -- and remain -- the No. 2-ranked teams in their respective classes (Hampton in Class AAAA and Mars in Class AAA).
Luther took a bounce pass from teammate Jack Obringer, cut to the basket and knocked down a 10-foot runner.
"There's a reason he's the top junior in the WPIAL. That's what a guy like that does," said Mars coach Rob Carmody after the game.
And then there's two-time defending Class AAAA champion Gateway, which has experienced more heart-thumping wins than maybe any other local team.
The Gators got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from D.J. Boyce to edge Blackhawk in the season opener, 48-45, on Dec. 8. Then, on Dec. 21, Shomari Thomas made a basket with 1.5 seconds left to give the Gators a 38-36 victory against Plum.
Filling up the nets
Shaler's Geno Thorpe and Jeannette's Ciara Gregory ended 2012 as the top scorers in the WPIAL. The senior guards now look to keep it going in 2013.
Thorpe leads all boys players with 27.3 points per game, while Gregory tops the girls field with a 33.7-point average.
Both players have had some monster efforts thus far. Thorpe, a Penn State recruit, scored a career-high 45 against McKeesport and has netted at least 30 five times. Gregory, who has committed to Charlotte, began the season with 40- and 39-point efforts and has broken the 30-point mark six times.
Gregory led the WPIAL in scoring as a junior with 26.7 points per game. Thorpe averaged 21.4 points as a junior, a few points behind scoring leader Micah Mason of Highlands, who averaged 28.7 per contest.
Canevin getting defensive
One of five undefeated WPIAL girls teams, Bishop Canevin is most known for the offensive exploits of Erin Waskowiak and Carly Forse. But it's on the defensive end where the Crusaders have separated themselves from the competition.
No WPIAL boys or girls team has a stingier defense than Bishop Canevin, which is allowing 23.1 points per game. No opponent has scored more than 29 points against the Crusaders (7-0).
Bishop Canevin's defensive excellence is an improvement on last year's mark of 38.3, which was very good in itself. The Crusaders were the WPIAL Class AA runners-up.
Here are a couple boys games to keep an eye on this week.
Friday: Montour at Chartiers Valley, 7:30 p.m. -- When these teams met last season, Montour snapped a five-game losing skid to the Colts, while handing the top-ranked team in Class AAAA its first loss. Chartiers Valley is once again unbeaten and ranked No. 1 -- now in Class AAA -- and the Colts will try to extract revenge with one of the WPIAL's most potent offenses.
Tuesday: Hampton at North Allegheny, 7:30 p.m. -- This is the first heavyweight fight of many in what is considered by many to be the top section in the WPIAL (Class AAAA Section 3). What will win out: North Allegheny's home dominance (10 consecutive wins; 33-4 since the 2009-10 season) or Hampton's road-warrior attitude (11 consecutive wins)?
First Published January 3, 2013 12:00 am