Local AAU team wins national tournament

| Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009

Darryn Freedman, the new basketball coach at The Kiski School in Saltsburg, finished his trip to Florida by leading his team, the Basketball Stars of America, to the championship of the AAU National Classic in Orlando.

The team did it the hard way, defeating the Louisiana Shockaz, 57-54, last Saturday on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by 6-foot-6 forward Barry Smith. The basketball bounced four times on the rim before falling into the net.

The BSA team, a 17-under Nike Elite team, lost its first two games but finished on a seven-game winning streak after entering the National Classic portion of the six-day tournament.

Evan Pierce, a 6-3 guard from Mt. Lebanon who has scholarship offers from Wagner, Iona and Air Force, scored 34 points in the championship game.

Other members of the team include two Division I recruits — Sewickley Academy's Tom Droney and Hempfield's Nate Perry — who have committed to Davidson and Appalachian State, respectively.

Smith, who will attend The Kiski School this year after a career at Penn Hills, is considering an offer from Youngstown State.

The rest, including some of the WPIAL's best from the 2008-2009 season are Shady Side Academy's Jerome Barnes, Hampton's Billy Luther and Tim Donegan, Mt. Lebanon's Grant Latus and Deion Turman, Sewickley Academy's Peter Schramm and Strongsville (Ohio)'s Deverin Muff.

"The biggest reason we were able to go so far and win so many games is because of the depth of the team and the fact that each player stepped up in different games," Freedman said.

Prior to the AAU National Classic, the Basketball Stars of America also played in the Disney Super Showcase in Orlando, winning five of eight games.

North Stars shine

It took four victories in four days for the Pittsburgh North Stars U-17 soccer club to hit the big time, but it had been about five years in the making.

Riding a core group that's been together since they were 12 years old, the North Stars won the U.S. Club Soccer's U-17 national championship last week in Virginia Beach, Va.

The team, comprised of players who are incoming seniors at North Allegheny, Shaler, Hampton, Gateway, Mars, Montour, Deer Lakes, Indiana and Pine-Richland, won the regular-season Pennsylvania Premier Alliance title and a regional tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., to advance to Virginia Beach.

Chris Hunkele of Hampton scored goals in preliminary-round victories and Mars' Tanner Panza and Ryan McKenzie scored in a 2-1 victory against Triangle (N.C.) United in the championship game.

"It took a while, and we saw some success along the way. But it really came together this year," coach Bobby Vosmaer said. "It was very gratifying for the kids to see success in what they do. It's all a credit to the players for their hard work."

TJ's opener

Defending Class AAA PIAA and WPIAL football champion Thomas Jefferson will open its season at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in a home game against H.D. Woodson (Washington D.C.).

H.D. Woodson was 7-4 last season after winning its final seven games. The Warriors are led by Virginia Tech recruit Ricardo Young, a 6-1, 170-pound dual-threat quarterback.

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