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Charleroi's Arnold first pick in Grebb League

| Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Union Cleaner's coach Walt Costello (left) is shown with Charleroi Area's John Arnold, who was the top pick in the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League draft on Saturday, June 15, 2013, in California.
Submitted photo
Union Cleaner's coach Walt Costello (left) is shown with Charleroi Area's John Arnold, who was the top pick in the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League draft on Saturday, June 15, 2013, in California.

For the fifth summer in a row, the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer League is ready to hit the Mechanic Street playground in California borough.

The season got its unofficial start Saturday when the league's annual draft took place at Campy's Pizza.

Charleroi Area's John Arnold had the honor of being this year's top pick by Union Cleaners.

“I saw a tall, young kid with size,” Union Cleaners head coach Walt Costello said. “He knows the game and just needs to mature as a player to dominate. He's only a sophomore and his size and raw skill will make an immediate impact on the league.”

With the second pick, Northwood Realty selected Brandon Lawless of Carmichaels. The team is yet to have a coach, so the selection was made by Brownsville senior Cole Novotney. Lawless is a good athlete that finished among the WPIAL's top-10 scorers.

Farmer's Insurance, formerly Fayco Rentals, coached by Naz Victoria selected Elizabeth Forward's Matt Bernadowski.

“This is his first year in the league and he'll be a senior this season,” Victoria said. “During tryouts I saw a really quick kid that played hard and was able to get to the hole. He's going to bring quite a bit of athleticism to our team.”

Besides playing basketball, Bernadowski was a standout receiver for the Warriors football team and finished third in the 110m hurdles and fifth in the 300m hurdles at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

Kenny Johnson, director of the boy's league and coach of Campy's Pizza, selected Charlie Scharbo of Thomas Jefferson with the fourth-overall pick. Scharbo started on the Thomas Jefferson team that finished undefeated in Class AAA's Section 4 this past season.

Dairy Queen, coached by Rodney Taylor, selected Ringgold's Shakel Brooks with the fifth pick.

“He's a high character young man with high upside to be a strong varsity player,” Taylor said of Brooks. “Not much is known about him now, but I believe through the summer league people will begin to learn of the potential he has as a basketball player.”

Defending champion Bee Graphix rounded out the first round with the selection of Darrell Briggs, a McGuffey Highlander and a player his coach compared to Jim Diaz, a former Charleroi Area standout.

“He's a nice swingman,” Bee Graphix coach Bob Kennedy said. “He plays good, sound defense, runs the floor and is a decent shooter. I look for him to contribute immediately.”

League Commissioner Phil Pergola said he's happy to see the league expanded each year.

“We sent an email to all the local athletic directors in the area,” Pergola said. “I also had the WPIAL phone list, so we also sent out text messages. We may have picked up some players by using those methods.”

Eighteen school districts are represented in the league this season led by Belle Vernon Area with nine players on team rosters. Brownsville has eight players in the league and Ringgold six. Bentworth, California Area, Charleroi, and Elizabeth Forward each have four players participating this season. Thomas Jefferson is represented by three players, while Beth-Center and Kiski Prep each have a pair of players. Also represented on this year's rosters is Carmichaels, Frazier, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Lincoln Park, McGuffey and Waynesburg.

Johnson pointed to the Class AAA teams represented as a sign of the league's success.

“Adding the Class AAA schools was big,” Johnson said. “There's a lot of teams from the section that Belle Vernon Area competes in and, as a whole, it makes the competition better and better. We hope to keep expanding.”

Pergola is hoping that players mention the league to their counterparts.

“It definitely helps some of the kids, especially those that are right on the cusp of being really good players,” Pergola said. “Hopefully some of these guys that make all-section or all-WPIAL mention the league in some way. That will continue to help us grow, too.”

Pergola is hopeful that the league continues to thrive locally, too, though. This year, a girls' division has been added.

Sign-ups and tryouts for girls interested in playing will be held Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the court.

Melanie Greco, who runs Beth-Center's instructional league, will serve as the girls' league director.

Former Monessen and Notre Dame star Charel Allen, who currently plays professionally overseas, will be coaching one of the teams.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667.

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