WPIAL Class A Boys' Basketball Preview
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Lincoln Park: The defending WPIAL champion Leopards no longer have Devontae Watson swatting shots in the middle. He is now at Temple University. But Lincoln Park still is a championship-caliber team and ranked No. 1 in Class A. Ryan Skovranko is a 6-6 junior who averaged 16 points a game last season. Senior forward Jaylyn Cottrill and sophomore guard Antonio Kellam also return while freshman Maverick Rowan is a player to watch.
Union: After the Scotties had one of the best football seasons at the school in the past decade, the basketball team might follow suit. All five starters return from last season. Senior forward Markel Peace averaged 14 points while junior guard Ben Young and senior Joe Salmen averaged 12. The other two returning starters from a 12-12 team are senior guard Drew Robinson and senior forward Tre Major.
OLSH: The Chargers have 6-2 senior guard Stefan Arch, who averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds a game last season. But they will also be bolstered by 6-3 junior guard Cameron Johnson, who transferred from Moon.
Cornell: The Raiders lost to Lincoln Park in the WPIAL title game last season, but all five starters graduated. Dane Jackson, a 6-foot sophomore guard, averaged 9.7 points as a freshman and will become an even bigger part of the team this year. Senior forward Dan Weryba also could have a big season.
Rochester: The Rams were winless last season. If they hope to get out of the cellar, defense will have to improve as they allowed 70 points a game last season.
Western Beaver: Nick Miller, a talented 6-2 junior guard who averaged 17 points and 5 rebounds as a sophomore, leads the Golden Beavers.
North Catholic: The Trojans feature one of the top players in Class A in 6-3 senior forward Danny Savulchak, who averaged 19 points a game last season. He could carry the team a long way.
Vincentian: Chris Koryak averaged 22 points a game last season and he will be sorely missed. Tony Dinardo is a 6-foot senior guard-forward who averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds last season, and will carry more of the scoring load this year.
Quigley: Things are looking up for the Spartans as four starters return from last year. Jay Fyda, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 17 points last season and has 885 career points. Other returning starters are senior forward Nate Lieb (11.3 ppg) and the Herman twins, junior guards Zack and Anthony.
Sewickley Academy: Junior point guard J.P. Bowell, junior guard Keenan Hickton and senior guard-forward John O'Malley return to a team that has a good chance to grab one of the section's playoff spots.
Eden Christian: This team was only one game out of the playoffs last season and hopes to be in the playoff hunt again.
Monessen: The Greyhounds dropped from Class AA. They might not be as strong as last season's team that made the WPIAL Class AA title game, but will still be among the best in Class A.
Clairton: It might take the Bears awhile to get in gear because most of their top players are on the football team that is in the PIAA semifinals tonight. But once those players get back and get in basketball shape, Clairton could make plenty of waves. Bryon Clifford (17 ppg) and Tyler Boyd (13 ppg) are two football players who made all-section a year ago. Titus Howard is another football player who could have a big season.
Carmichaels: The Mikes are a level below Clairton and Monessen, but are good enough to qualify for the playoffs. Branden Lawless averaged 10 points a game last year as a sophomore.
Geibel: The Gators move over from Section 4 after going 11-11 last season, and should challenge for a playoff spot. Guard-forward Aaron Agostoni averaged 14 points a game.
Avella: The Eagles finished 7-3 in the section and made the playoffs last season, but they will miss graduated forward-center Joe Yamber (19 ppg), who was voted by the coaches as the top player in the section.
Mapletown: Guard Derek Riggleman averaged 14 points a game last season as a sophomore.
St. Joseph: Serra and Clairton tied for the section title last year, but both have departed, which means St. Joseph could be the team to beat. Michael Connelly (22 ppg) has graduated, but senior guard John Arcuri (15 ppg) and junior guard Chris Gamble (8 ppg) return.
Wilkinsburg: The Tigers lost their top scorers, but they still figure to challenge for the top spot in the section.
Imani Christian: The Saints are in the WPIAL for the first time and could be a team to watch.
Trinity Christian: This team moves over from Section 2 and was 11-11 last year.
Leechburg: The Blue Devils believe they can improve on last year's 5-13 record.
Winchester Thurston: This is a new team in the WPIAL and will just hope to be competitive in its first season.
Rk. School (2011-12 record)
1.Lincoln Park (26-5)
2. Monessen (25-4)
3. North Catholic (18-7)
4. Union (12-10)
5. Clairton (13-7)
Stefan Arch, O.L.S.H., 6-2, Sr., G
Tyler Boyd, Clairton, 6-2, Sr., G
Bryon Clifford, Clairton, 5-9, Sr., G
Jaylen Cottrill, Lincoln Park, 6-2, Sr., G
Tony DiNardo, Vincentian, 6-0, Sr. G-F
Alyjah Elmore, Rochester, 6-2, Sr., F
Titus Howard, Clairton, 6-3, Sr., F
Cameron Johnson, Moon, 6-3, Jr., G
Jay Fyda, Quigley, 6-1, Sr., G
Nick Miller, Western Beaver, 6-1, Jr., G-F
Markell Peace, Union, 6-2, Sr., F
Chavas Rawlins, Monessen, 6-3, Sr., F
Danny Savulchak, North Catholic, 6-3, Sr., F
Ryan Skovranko, Lincoln Park, 6-6, Jr., F
First Published December 7, 2012 12:00 am