After ending lengthy playoff drought, East Allegheny boys set sights on section title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In his second season at East Allegheny last year, coach Vernon Benson helped the boys basketball team end a 16-year playoff drought.
Now, he has his sights on the school's first section title since 1967.
“Our goal is to win the section,” Benson said.
“We'll take it one step at a time, and I think we can get there. It's going to be work, but we'll be all right.”
Winning a Section 4-AAA title will be no easy task, however. The Wildcats lost eight players to graduation, including top scorers Jordan Williams, Shawn Adair and Joel Randolph.
“The outlook is still up in the air.” Benson said. “We have some guys that didn't play last year that are seniors, so we'll still be inexperienced court-wise.”
Benson doesn't see last year's 12-11 record or playoff berth as a fluke but, of course, that has to be proven on the floor this year, he said.
This year's new crop of expected contributors — seniors Kyle Whipple and Shabazz Washington and junior Taizon Brown — seems to share Benson's outlook.
“We want to do the same thing as last year,” Whipple said, “but it's a whole new team. We've just got to work hard and hope for the best.”
It is yet to be seen which players will be taking on the bulk of the scoring, but the Wildcats already have shown their early-season identity.
“They're all hustlers. That's what I like,” Benson said. “If a guy's going hard for you, he's eventually going to make a good play for you.”
This is especially true of Washington. Although the 5-foot-11 senior isn't going to be a standout scorer, he certainly is a lock-down defender, Benson said.
“He brings another dimension to our team,” Benson said. “He's a hustler. He'll make little plays that just spark us.”
Whipple and Brown identified rebounding as the key to a successful year for the relatively undersized Wildcats.
Although the players don't have much on-the-court experience with each other on the varsity level, they aren't foreign to competing together.
Whipple and Brown shared a backfield for the East Allegheny football team, with Whipple starting at quarterback and Brown at running back. Washington also played wide receiver for the Wildcats.
But now, the focus is back in the gym. East Allegheny opens its season at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 against Yough, the first step in ending yet another drought and claiming that elusive section title.
“I just want to win,” Washington said. “I want to get that banner up there.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WPIAL finalists feature skilled scorers, playmakers on perimeter
- Sophomore stars carry Beaver Falls to 3rd finals appearance in 4 seasons
- Monessen-Jeannette: Who gets the gold?
- Fueled by comeback victories, Class A finalists Jeannette, Monessen set for showdown
- Trib Cup: South Park girls look ahead to PIAA tournament
- Big start carries Cal into state playoffs
- Late-blooming Penn Hills girls restoring WPIAL championship glory
- Highlands can’t recover from turnovers in playoff loss to South Fayette
- Nine Leps still alive in WPIAL championships
- High school roundup: Mt. Lebanon boys oust Hempfield
- Clutch 3-pointer lifts Beaver Falls to 3rd straight trip to finals