WPIAL Boys Playoffs: It's all relative
South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure talks to his son, Evan, during a playoff victory against West Mifflin Tuesday at Baldwin.
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Never mind going to a movie together, or maybe grabbing a burger at a local establishment. The place where some fathers and sons want to spend some quality time together this weekend is the WPIAL basketball quarterfinals.
In what is nothing more than a coincidence, but still unusual, the WPIAL has reservations for six father-son get-togethers on basketball courts tonight and Saturday.
Dad is the coach. Son is the player. And there is nothing better than a father-son trip through the playoffs.
"I'm a little older and can stop and smell the roses now," said South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure, 53. "It really does add a little extra something and makes it a little more special when you can go through this with your son together."
Bonnaure is in his 11th season as South Fayette's coach. His son, Evan, a senior guard, is South Fayette's leading scorer.
South Fayette plays in the Class AAA quarterfinals tonight and the Lions' opponent also has a father-son team. Tim McConnell is Chartiers Valley's coach and his son, Matty, is a sophomore guard and the team's second-leading scorer.
Any coach will tell you winning postseason games brings a tremendous feeling. But when your son is also one of the main parts of the team, it adds something more.
"It has been great with all the teams and people we've had here, but there's no doubt it makes it a little more special when your son is there with you," said Tim McConnell.
But the McConnells and Bonnaures are only two of the father-son combos who will be playing in the quarterfinals this weekend:
• Joe Lafko is Hampton's coach, and his sophomore son, Joe Jr., is Hampton's starting point guard. Hampton will play McKeesport in Saturday's Class AAAA quarterfinals.
• McKeesport has starting junior guard William Gadson, who is the son of McKeesport coach Corey Gadson.
• Jeannette, which plays in the Class AA quarterfinals, is coached by Adrian Batts. His son, Julian, is a talented sophomore point guard and the team's second-leading scorer.
• Greensburg Central Catholic also is in the Class AA quarterfinals under coach Greg Bisignani. His son, Collin, is a 6-foot-7 junior center for the Centurions.
The coaches and players will tell you that fathers coaching their sons can provide great times -- and bad times. These are most definitely the great times.
"I think we both see how hard each other works at this," Evan Bonnaure said. "When you're successful, you're happy for yourself, but I think you're happy for each other as well."
Bonnaure averages 16 points a game, but his father never pushed him into being a player.
"I didn't make him live or die for the game as a kid," Rich Bonnaure said. "We've been about academics a lot, but I think it was when he was in fifth grade and I told him, 'I have the keys to the gym. We can go in there every day if you want. Or if you don't want to play this game, I'm fine with that, too.'"
Evan Bonnaure says playing for his father has been a great experience, but also acknowledges there are times when it is not easy.
After beating West Mifflin in a first-round game Tuesday, Evan laughed and said, "Nights like tonight are great. I can definitely point to other times that haven't been so great. One that comes to mind is a game this year at South Park. Things didn't go so well. After the game, I told my friends that I was sleeping over their house. I told them it would be better if my dad and I didn't see each other until the next morning."
At Chartiers Valley, Matty McConnell is the second son to play for his father. T.J. McConnell was a Chartiers Valley star a few years ago who is now at the University of Arizona. Tim McConnell admits he is much harder on his sons than his other players. Matt McConnell understands.
"I think it's good at times when he pushes me, but it can also be bad when he's yelling," said Matty McConnell. "But he does it for the best. He pushes hard because he knows what's right for me. ... I actually thought he was a little harder on T.J."
Yeah, but Matty is only a sophomore.
"If I can be tough on my own sons, then I can be tough on anyone," Tim McConnell said.
Coaches will tell you coaching their own son can provide priceless moments and memories. It can provide for some memorable stories, too. There was the time when T.J. mouthed off a little at his father during a game a few years ago.
"I told him there was no way he was going to talk to me like that and I told him during the game that he was grounded after the game," Tim McConnell said. "After the game, all the players went out. My wife [Shelly] went out with the kids somewhere. I took T.J. home and told him he was grounded. He stayed upstairs and I stayed downstairs.
"My wife came home and told me I couldn't ground him as a player. She told me I couldn't be his dad and coach at the same time. I put my foot down and said he's grounded.
"Neither of them spoke to me for three days."
Keeping it in the family
Father and son acts in the WPIAL quarterfinals:
School: Name -- Dad, Son; Next opponent
Jeannette: Batts -- Adrian, Julian; Apollo-Ridge
Greensburg C.C.: Bisignani -- Greg, Collin; Burrell
South Fayette: Bonnaure -- Rich, Evan; Chartiers Valley
McKeesport: Gadson -- Corey, William; Hampton
Hampton: Lafko -- Joe, Joe Jr.; McKeesport
Chartiers Valley: McConnell -- Tim, Matty; South Fayette
First Published February 22, 2013 12:00 am