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City League basketball preview: Westinghouse teams out to defend titles

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preseason top 10

1. Obama Academy (16-3)

The defending regular season champion will be led by DJ Porter, a player garnering Division I offers. Senior G Calique Jones also returns.

2. Allderdice (9-13)

The Dragons feature three sets of twins — the Moultries, Jacksons and Robinsons. The lineup will be aided by G Ramon Creighton, a Kiski Prep transfer.

3. Perry (12-14)

Led by senior G Devin Lyles, the Commodores also boast a big front line, including senior forwards Juwan Byrd and Marcus Dean and 6-7 Jaewan Mitchell from Atlanta.

4. Westinghouse (15-9)

The defending champions return just one player from last year's team. The Bulldogs will be led in the backcourt by freshman Jahi Ogeoani and sophomore Khalil Morris. Senior forward and Penn Hills transfer Willie James III will be a player to watch.

5. Brashear (15-8)

Losing nine seniors from last year's team, the Bulls will lean on seniors Thaddeus Crumbley, Taronn Thomas and James Wilkes.

6. Carrick (1-22)

The Raiders' lone seniors Cameron Jackson and DaiVon Lewis are key players.who 2 watch

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preseason top 10

1. Westinghouse (17-10)

The Bulldogs return two of the city's top players in Jasmine Myers and Brittany Jackson from last season's championship team. Senior guard/forward Tiarra Gordon will also play a key role for the Bulldogs.

2. Obama Academy (11-8)

Guards Samone Rainey, Alex Bowens and Kayla Payne return as top players for the defending regular-season champions. Michala Porter highlights an impressive freshman class for the Eagles.

3. Allderdice (12-14)

The Dragons return three starters, including standout senior guard Sierra Fordham. Sophomore forward Lyric Harper will lead the team from the frontcourt.

4. Carrick (10-10)

Junior guard Chardonnay Littlejohn returns as one of the city's top scorers from a season ago.

5. Perry (3-15)

The Commodores will look to replace seven seniors, including Latosha Fortson, from last season's team. First-year coach Rob Graham inherits two returning starters.

6. Brashear (1-22)

The Bulls will look to guard Jessica Kopko and forward Rechelle Conner for scoring this season.

Top high school sports
By Alex Oltmanns
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 10:00 p.m.

Westinghouse boys basketball coach Tariq Francis can't promise another City League championship this season, but he can provide assurance that his team will put in plenty of hard work.

Entering this season on the heels of a playoff title run after finishing third in the regular-season standings, Westinghouse returns just one player (sophomore guard Khalil Morris) from its championship squad.

But that doesn't mean the third-year Bulldog coach's squad won't work just as hard.

“We talk about last year, and the thing about something special is it's just that special,” Francis said. “It's hard to duplicate winning the lottery. Our thing is just instilling the same attitude and work ethic in the guys. I don't know if we'll see the numbers or city championship, but we're going to work them in practice, play the games, teach them, coach them. … I think we're going to see that growth.”

With just one returning player, it goes without saying that Westinghouse will feature virtually an entirely fresh set of faces in the 2013-14 campaign.

“Obviously, we wish we had more guys back to make it an easier transition,” Francis said. “But we're not going to let the guys off the hook.”

Two players the Bulldogs will look to for help are freshman guard Jahi Ogeoani and 6-foot-6 senior forward Willie James III, a transfer from Penn Hills, who will be the focal point of the offense.

“We're going to put the ball in his hands,” Francis said. “Our offense is going to run through him. He's going to shoulder the team being one of our only seniors.”

Westinghouse girls

The Westinghouse girls found themselves in familiar territory last season, playing in a 26th consecutive City championship game and claiming a 10th league title in that span.

“It was very special, it really was,” coach Phyllis Jones said of the school's two basketball teams earning titles. “It brought the community together. That's what we were excited about, how the community came together. It was really nice to see.”

Westinghouse features plenty of returning talent, most notably seniors Jasmine Myers, Brittany Jackson and Tiarra Gordon.

Jones said determination and defense keyed her team's surge to the championship last season, and hopes it gives her group an increased sense of confidence in 2013-14.

“We came along strong during the postseason, and I hope it carries over to the beginning of this season,” Jones said.

“(The playoff run showed) that they're able to do what they want to do.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.



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