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Moon's Simmons, CWNC's Breen named Pgh Trib Basketball Players of the Year

| Saturday, April 1, 2017, 10:39 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Blackhawk's players try to block a shot by Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Sam Breen during the WPIAL 4A girls basketball championship Friday, March 3, 2017, at Petersen Events Center.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Moon forward Jarrod Simmons (22) makes a move toward the basket and scores in the second period against Franklin Regional during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Plum High School. Moon leads 23-20 at halftime.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Austin Butler at Latrobe Senior High School in Latrobe, Pa. on Thursday March 30, 2017.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Mars Area’s Robby Carmody (24) shoots against Neumann-Goretti’s Rasheed Browne (2) during the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball championship on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Neumann-Goretti won 99-66.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Lincoln Park's Nelly Cummings scores past Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Kenny Fukon during the WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball championship Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Petersen Events Center.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Beaver Falls' Josh Creach grabs a rebound as Quaker Valley's Ricky Guss tries to block during a game Friday, Jan. 5, 2017, at Beaver Falls.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Phil Jurkovec grabs a rebound against Butler during the WPIAL Boys Class 6A Basketball Championship game at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Butler's Ethan Morton pumps his fist after sinking a three pointer during the WPIAL Boys Class 6A Basketball Championship game at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Andrew Petcash pumps his fist as Latrobe's Austin Butler walks away after time expires in the Rams 83-82 win over Latrobe in a thriller at Baldwin High School in the first of the PIAA Boys Class 6A playoff game on Saturday, March 11, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
North Hills' Nick Smith shoots over Shaler's Kevin McHale during a Section 1-6A boys basketball game Jan. 10, 2017, at Shaler.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Southmoreland's Brandon Stone (23) brings the ball forecourt following a steal during the second quarter against Shady Side Academy on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, at Gateway High School. Shady Side Academy leads 23-22 at halftime.
Submitted
McKeesport's Johnasia Cash
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Amanda Kalin dribbles against North Allegheny's Piper Morningstar during their game Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, at Pine-Richland.
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East Allegheny's Amani Johnson
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Trinity's Sierra Kotchman
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Obama Academy's Michaela Porter
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Desiree Oliver drives past Latrobe's Laura Graytok during their WPIAL Girl's Basketball contest at Latrobe High School on Friday Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe.Penn Hills defeated Latrobe 67-42.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Winchester Thurston's Ayanna Townsend (22) grabs a rebound late in the game against Riverview during their PIAA Class A playoff play-in game at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Chartiers-Houston's Alexa Williamson scores over Vincentian's Tess Belko during the WPIAL Class 2A girls basketball championship Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Petersen Events Center.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Hailey Zeise looks to pass while being pressured by Penn Hills' Desiree Oliver during their PIAA Class 6-A girls basketball quarterfinal on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Baldwin High School. North Allegheny defeated Penn Hills 50-38.
Pete Madia | For the Tribune-Review
Moon's Jarrod Simmons scores over Hampton's Ben Huber during the WPIAL Class 5A boys' basketball championship Friday, March 3, 2017, at the Petersen Events Center.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Austin Butler scores on a jump shot in the 83-82 win over Latrobe loss to Pine-Richland first round of the PIAA Boys Class 6A playoff game on Saturday, March 11, 2017.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Mars Area’s Robby Carmody (24) dunks against Neumann-Goretti during the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball championship on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Neumann-Goretti won 99-66.
Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
McKeesport's Johnasia Cash (33) is trapped by Pine-Richland's Chelsea Rourke (13) and Makenzie Jenkins (34) during their WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, at Fox Chapel.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic’s Brittany Stawovy drives past East Allegheny’s Cache Street (right) and Amani Johnson on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in Greensburg.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Vincent DiNicola blocks the shot of Lincoln Park's Nelly Cummings during the WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball championship Thursday, March 2, 2017, at Petersen Events Center.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Desiree Oliver dribbles to the court while being defended by the whole North Allegheny defense during their PIAA Class 6-A girls basketball quarterfinal on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Baldwin High School. North Allegheny defeated Penn Hills 50-38.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Hailey Zeise (34) takes a jump shot over Hempfield's Ali Belgiovane (1) during the second quarter of a WPIAL Class 6A playoff game on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at Fox Chapel High School. North Allegheny leads 20-8 at halftime.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Southmoreland's Brandon Stone (23) drives for a shot ovwer Avonworth's Matthew Crilley (20) during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, in Peters Township. Southmoreland won 64-55 in overtime.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Phil Jurkovec grabs a rebound against Butler during the WPIAL Boys Class 6A Basketball Championship game at the Petersen Events Center on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Moon's Jarrod Simmons and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Sam Breen have been selected as the Pgh Trib Basketball Players of the Year.

Jarrod Simmons

Moon

6-foot-8, senior, forward

Jarrod Simmons needed just one season to wow the WPIAL. The 6-foot-8 forward spent his first three high school years at Cushing Academy, a New England prep school in Ashburnham, Mass. But he returned home to Moon for his senior year and immediately made the Tigers a WPIAL title contender.

In the 2015-16 season, before Simmons' return, Moon's boys basketball team went 7-15 and won two section games. This season, with the Penn recruit leading the way, Moon finished 20-6 overall and won its first WPIAL title since 2006.

Simmons had 22 points, 23 rebounds and eight blocks in the WPIAL Class 5A final to defeat Hampton, 69-62, at Petersen Events Center. Simmons had some help turning around Moon's fortunes, but he was the key. He averaged 19.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.8 blocks.

For his efforts, Simmons was named the Pgh Trib Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

What's the difference between WPIAL and prep school basketball?

The size. (At Cushing Academy) I'm going up against a kid every night who's 7-foot or taller, and I was on a team that was considered small. I was an undersized big man. Every single night you have guys that are going to Virginia Tech, UConn, Louisville. Something else was the shot clock. We had a shot clock up there, so you get a lot more possession and the game is faster. A difference with the WPIAL is just the pride, playing for your hometown and wanting to be the best school around.

Growing up, did you know you'd be so tall?

To be honest, doctors always told me I'd be around 6-5 or 6-4, but I kept on shooting up. I come from a family that's pretty tall. My dad is 6-6. My mom is about 5-10. I have an uncle who's 6-9 as well, so it kind of runs in the family.

Have you reflected much on your WPIAL title?

It was awesome. Being able to come back home and win the WPIAL was great. It's been an honor, and I'm blessed.

Were you certain the team could turn around a 7-15 record?

I knew how good the guys were. Just being able to play with them and win a lot at a younger age, I knew that they could do it. Second, coach (Adam) Kaufman is just a really good guy. He was someone I could trust. And third, they're just a fun group of guys to be around. When you've played as much basketball as I have, when you have a lot of fun and you're enjoying the time, you get the most production. That's what happened here.

What led you to Penn?

Penn was just a place that had a family atmosphere. I felt comfortable with the coaches. It was also somewhere that mom was OK with. Sometime mom would say a place was too far or she didn't get the right feelings. Penn was the right fit.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, hopefully the NBA, but that's a stretch. Right now I'll take it one day at time and make the most of my opportunities.

What do you plan to study?

I'm not completely sure yet. Maybe something with journalism or communication. I like talking to people. Sometimes the problem is getting me to shut up. So maybe being able to talk and combine sports with that too would be my passion.

Boys Terrific 10

Austin Butler

Latrobe

6-5, sr., guard

The Holy Cross recruit led the WPIAL as a 30-point scorer in the regular season and graduates with more than 1,800 points as the school's all-time leading scorer.

Robby Carmody

Mars

6-4, jr., guard

Carmody averaged 26.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Planets, who reached the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals and the state second round. Pitt, Notre Dame and Michigan are among his college offers.

Nelly Cummings

Lincoln Park

6-0, sr., guard

The Bowling Green recruit is the fifth-leading scorer in WPIAL history with 2,411 career points. As a senior, he averaged 28.9 points, 4.5 assists and led Lincoln Park to WPIAL and PIAA 3A runner-up finishes.

Josh Creach

Beaver Falls

6-8, sr., forward

A year after winning a WPIAL title, Creach averaged a double-double with 23 points, 12.5 rebounds, and reached the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals. He verbally committed to attend a junior college in Kansas.

Phil Jurkovec

Pine-Richland

6-5, jr., guard

Known more for football, the Notre Dame quarterback recruit showed his basketball skills. He averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds for the WPIAL 6A champion, and often defended an opponent's best scorer.

Ethan Morton

Butler

6-4, fr., guard

Morton's emergence led Butler to the WPIAL Class 6A finals and the state quarterfinals. He averaged 13.2 points, five assists and five rebounds as the point guard, and already has a Cleveland State offer.

Andrew Petcash

Pine-Richland

6-4, sr., guard

Petcash averaged a team-best 21 points for Pine-Richland (28-2), which won the WPIAL Class 6A title and finished as the state runner-up. Has offers from Division I and II schools.

Nick Smith

North Hills

6-1, sr., guard

Smith averaged 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals. He graduates as the team's all-time leading scorer with more than 1,700 points, and holds D2 college offers.

Brandon Stone

Southmoreland

6-11, jr., center

Duquesne, Robert Morris and Youngstown State were the first to offer him a scholarship. Stone averaged 25.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the WPIAL 2A quarterfinalist.

Sam Breen

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

6-foot-1, senior, forward

A WPIAL title was the only accomplishment missing from senior Sam Breen's high school career.

She'd won a state title as a junior, already celebrated a section title and broke her coach's career scoring record.

Yet, until March, the WPIAL title had eluded her.

So when Breen reached the WPIAL finals this winter for the third year in a row, she made certain her Trojanettes left with gold medals. The Dayton recruit had 34 points and 21 rebounds to defeat Blackhawk, 65-36, in the Class 3A final at Petersen Events Center.

The championship performance highlighted a remarkable senior season for Breen, who averaged 23.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The dominant post player shot 56.8 percent from the field, but also showed her shooter's touch and made 48.3 percent of attempts from 3-point range (29-60).

For her efforts, Breen was named the Pgh Trib Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Is there a moment that you'll always remember?

Definitely winning the WPIAL championship. We lost two WPIALs the past two years, so just winning. We were all expecting a close game, and we played really well and won by 29.

How would you describe your high school career?

Pretty fun and definitely too fast.

What advice would you give a freshman?

Not to complain about practice because as soon as the final buzzer goes off and you know it's your last game, you're going to want to be back practicing with your team.

How have you changed as a player in four years?

Well, freshman year, I did not take a shot outside of the paint at all. They were all post moves and free throws.

Besides the WPIAL final, was there a favorite game from this season?

Probably the one we played at the beginning of the year at Oakland Catholic, when I broke my coach's scoring record. It was funny because I made a layup and a buzzer randomly went off. I was really confused, and I looked over at (coach Molly Rottmann) and she told me I broke the record. That was pretty fun.”

Do you have a favorite spot to shoot?

Most days it's dead center, but other days it will be from the corner. In warm-ups I usually figure it out.

What led you to choose Dayton?

They were recruiting me for a little while. On my unofficial visit I got along really well with the team and all the coaches. And I like the campus a lot. It's not too, too far, but it's not too, too close.

Do you watch many NCAA tournament games?

When I'm home, I watch as many games as I can. That's what we're on our way home to do now. We're going to try to catch the end of the women's Final Four game that's going on right now.

Girls Terrific 10

Johnasia Cash

McKeesport

6-1, sr., forward

The Southern Methodist recruit averaged 18.4 points and 14.2 rebounds, and she also blocked 54 shots. Cash graduates with more than 1,400 career points and more than 1,000 rebounds.

Amani Johnson

East Allegheny

5-5, jr., guard

Division I recruit led all WPIAL scorers with 766 points and a 29.5-point average. She also averaged five assists and four steals for East Allegheny (24-2), which went undefeated (22-0) in the regular season.

Amanda Kalin

Pine-Richland

5-7, sr., guard

The Duquesne recruit set a school record with 1,868 career points. As a senior, Kalin averaged 23.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Rams (21-2).

Sierra Kotchman

Trinity

5-6, sr., guard

Kotchman averaged nearly 20 points and finished her career with more than 1,700. The Fairmont State recruit led Trinity to a runner-up finish in the PIAA tournament.

Desiree Oliver

Penn Hills

5-8, sr., guard

The Temple recruit averaged 20.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Her Indians finished 23-4 and reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals and the PIAA quarterfinals.

Michaela Porter

Obama Academy

5-11, sr., Guard/For.

A Cincinnati recruit, Porter helped Obama capture four City League titles, including this season when she averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds. She had 22 and 10 in a 64-53 finals win over Allderdice.

Ayanna Townsend

Win. Thurston

6-2, jr., forward

The D1 recruit averaged 18.6 points and 9.5 rebounds for the WPIAL Class A champion Bears (23-2). She was invited to Italy with an Adidas national team. Xavier, St. Joseph's and a few others have already offered.

Alexa Williamson

Chartiers-Houston

6-1, jr., forward

Akron and Youngstown State already have offered Williamson, who led Chartiers-Houston (24-3) to the WPIAL Class 2A title. She averaged 23.2 points and 12.5 rebounds.

Hailey Zeise

North Allegheny

5-11, sr., guard

The Stony Brook recruit led NA (28-2) to the WPIAL Class 6A title and a PIAA runner-up finish. The team's lone senior averaged 10.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 steals for the defensive-minded Tigers.

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