Xtra Points: Football stars return to court
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Zach Challingsworth and Chandler Kincade haven't taken their last shot yet.
Challingsworth and Kincade are football stars who have college scholarships in hand for football from Pitt. But they want a basketball in their hands one more season.
Both players debated long and hard about whether to play basketball, but both decided to lace up the sneakers again.
This will be it for Challingsworth because he is a senior at South Fayette. Even though Kincade is a junior at Blackhawk, this will probably be his final basketball season because he plans to graduate early from Blackhawk and enroll at Pitt for the spring semester of 2014. That means he wouldn't play basketball as a senior at Blackhawk.
"I just thought about how some of my good friends on the football team are playing basketball and I realized how much fun it is to play with them," Kincade said. "I grew up playing sports with them my whole life and I kind of realized this is the last thing I can play with them."
Challingsworth said: "This is my senior year and I've played basketball all my other years, so I just thought I should play. I kind of just wanted to stay with my teammates and try to make my senior year special that way."
Kincade actually didn't play basketball last season. He was thinking about giving up the sport anyway, and then he also had to rehabilitate a shoulder injury from football.
Kincade is one of three standout football players at Blackhawk who didn't play basketball last season, but came back to the hardwood this year. The others are receiver Alex Caratelli and running back Cole Chiappialle.
"I missed basketball last year. It was tough not playing," Kincade said. "When I thought about it, I love football and everything, but once you go to college, you're going to be strictly football. It will be football every day, and I'm ready for that. But right now, I want to be able to enjoy myself, play some basketball and kind of not have football every day. I want to enjoy my high school years."
Challingsworth is nursing an abdominal injury from football. He spoke with Pitt football coach Paul Chryst and a few Pitt assistants about whether he should play basketball.
"They said I should do whatever I wanted to do, but they said you're only young once and you can only make high school memories one time," Challings-worth said. "Talking to them gave me a good perspective. They didn't pull me either way. They just said to make the decision you want."
Kincade and Challingsworth are both talented basketball players. Kincade is a guard-forward who made all-section as a freshman when he averaged 10 points. Challingsworth averaged 15 points a game last season and coaches voted him the top player in Class AAA Section 5.
"It's going to take me a little while to get in basketball shape, but I'll get there," Challingsworth said.
Clairton is expected to have one of the top basketball teams in Class A ... when the football players join the team.
Three of Clairton's top basketball players are Titus Howard, Tyler Boyd and Bryon Clifford. They also are on the football team that will play in the PIAA semifinals tonight.
Having to wait until football season ends to get some top basketball players is nothing new for Clairton. This is the fifth year in a row the Bears have made it to the semifinals. But unlike past years, Clairton also has a number of basketball players who aren't on the football team. In recent years, Clairton would have maybe one or two basketball players not on the football team.
First-year basketball coach Matt Geletko said he has about a dozen basketball players, mostly freshmen and sophomores, who aren't on the football team.
"I've had open gyms all fall and I've been getting about 12 guys to show up all the time," Geletko said. "Actually, it's a shock to me because everyone always said you're not going to have any players at all until football is over."
Clairton doesn't have a basketball game scheduled until Dec. 21 and the Bears won't play a section game until Jan. 4.
"Even at the open gyms we've had in the fall, a lot of the football guys would come and shoot around at one end," Geletko said. "They would always kind of want to get into the stuff we were doing. I would just be like, 'Coach [Tom] Nola would kill me if I let you start playing.'"
'Tis this season for tipoff tournaments. Just about all WPIAL and City League teams will play in a tournament tonight and Saturday.
On the boys side, there is a potential matchup that would be interesting in the New Castle tournament. If Beaver Falls and New Castle both win tonight, they will play in the championship game Saturday. Beaver Falls is the Post-Gazette's No. 1-ranked Class AA team and New Castle No. 1 in Class AAAA.
The Midland tournament could have Sto-Rox and Lincoln Park meeting in the title game.
The Upper St. Clair tournament has some interesting matchups with Chartiers Valley, Monessen and Franklin Regional also in the field.
The Scott Lang Memorial Tournament at Mars is named after the former La Roche coach who died suddenly a year ago. Lang played at Mars. The tournament could have a championship game between Mars and Seneca Valley.
In girls tournaments this weekend, the best of the lot is undoubtedly the Oakland Catholic tournament. Tonight, Seton-LaSalle takes on North Catholic at 6 while Bishop Canevin meets Oakland Catholic at 7:30. Seton-LaSalle is the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion and is riding a 30-game winning streak. North Catholic is ranked No. 3 in Class A and played in the WPIAL and PIAA title games a year ago.
Bishop Canevin is ranked No. 2 in Class AA this season while Oakland Catholic is coming off a season in which it played in the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA finals.
Also in girls tournaments, the Bethel Park tournament has a potential championship matchup between South Park and Bethel Park. South Park is ranked No. 3 in Class AAA and Bethel Park No. 1 in Class AAAA.
The North Allegheny football team plays Wilson of West Lawn in a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal game Saturday in Altoona. Wilson is trying to make it to the championship game for the first time since 1989.
That year, Wilson played Upper St. Clair in the title game and Upper St. Clair won, 12-7, on a frigid Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium. Upper St. Clair tamed a future NFL quarterback. Kerry Collins was held to 115 yards passing as Upper St. Clair finished the season with a 15-0 record.
The following season, North Allegheny won its first PIAA championship. That 1990 North Allegheny team had a number of stars, such as quarterback Paul Failla and linebacker Justin Goheen, who would both play at Notre Dame.
But the most unusual thing about that North Allegheny team was it had three 1,000-yard rushers -- Kevin Rock, Mike McKnight and Jon Craig.
First Published December 7, 2012 12:00 am