Cal boys hope to seize opportunity
California will have a big task to face when the Trojans take on Brentwood in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs Saturday at Peters Township.
Well, actually two big tasks.
Brentwood (12-9) features a solid one-two punch in sweet-shooting guard Jason Pilarski (6-1), who averages 20 ppg, and bruising center Michael Kish (6-5).
“The big kid inside (Kish) is a very physical player and the guard (Pilarski) can really shoot it,” said California coach Phil Pergola.
“We're going to have to play good defense and really improve on our rebounding to win this game.”
The Trojans (18-3) have a nice one-two punch of their own in seniors Tanner Huffman and Brian Fisher. Huffman (23.6 ppg) is the leading scorer in Class AA while Fisher averages 18.2 ppg.
“It's going to take more than two for us,” Pergola said. “We are going to have to dictate the tempo of the game and do what we do best.”
The winner of the California-Brentwood game will meet the winner of the Deer Lakes (16-6) vs. Shady Side Academy (8-14) contest on Wednesday.
Pergola noted that he was pleased with the draw that the Trojans received for the playoffs.
“We have two very winnable games in front of us and if we can win them and get to (top-seeded) Beaver Falls in the quarterfinals, we have a good chance of getting into the state playoffs,” Pergola said. “You never want to look ahead, but we do have an opportunity in front of us, no doubt.
“I hope the kids are excited,” he said. “I know the coaching staff is excited.”
The Trojans meet the Spartans at 3 p.m. in the third game of a tripleheader.
In the noon opener at Peters Township, the Cougars (14-6) go up against Bishop Canevin (10-12) in a AA boys game.
Canevin is led by 6-4 senior Jake Seligman, who averages just under 16 ppg.
Canevin coach Tony DiMaria sees the game as a potential battle of strengths between the teams.
“We like to control the tempo, walk the ball up the court and take our time,” DiMaria said. “Charleroi seems to like to get going, get into more of a running game.
“We play a 2-3 zone defense and we play it really well. Our defense keeps us in a lot of games and has won some of them.”
While the Crusaders average just 47.8 ppg, the Cougars average 62.1 ppg behind a balanced attack that is led by guards Jim Diaz (15.5 ppg) and Matt Indorante (14.8).
“We can't let them just get out there and run,” DiMaria said.
The winner of the Charleroi-Canevn game will meet Beaver Falls (19-3) on Wednesday.
The Lady Trojans (14-7) have a tough task in their first round game at Peters Township (1:30 p.m.) against fourth-seeded Quigley (16-5).
Quigley features a solid scoring attack, averaging 57.1 ppg, behind Kaitlyn Smith (12.5) and Kristin Jackson (11.8).
Quigley also plays tough defense, limiting opponents to just 40 ppg.
That statistic will be tested by California and leading scorer Courtnee McMasters, who averages 22 points per game and needs 16 points to become the second girls player in California history to crack 1,000 for a career.
The Lady Trojans are also bolstered by the return of second-leading scorer Tristen Conaway, who missed over two weeks after suffering a concussion but returned for the regular season finale.
The California-Quigley winner will face the Avella (13-8)-St. Joseph (10-12) winner on Wednesday.
The Lady Rams (10-10) meet Indiana (15-7) in a AAA first round game at Gateway (3 p.m.).
Indiana goes into the playoffs having won four of their last five games.
Audrey Stapleton (16.9) leads Indiana in scoring while Kaitlyn Hoff averages 10.8.
Ringgold, meanwhile, is led by senior Josie Schmidt (10.9) and freshman Bailey Cooper (10.1).
The winner plays third-seeded South Park (19-2) on Wednesday.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.