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Senior guard Hipp adjusts quickly in 1st year at Greensburg Central Catholic

| Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Billy Hipp shoots during practice on Friday, November 22, 2013.
Rebecca Emanuele | for the Tribune Review
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg coach Sean Strickland gives instruction during an October 2013 practice at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg gym.

Transferring to a new school at any age can be difficult, let alone walking through the doors of a new school as a senior in high school.

But that's what Greensburg Central Catholic senior Billy Hipp has done this year, and through his friendly disposition as well as the acceptance of his basketball teammates, that change has gone smoothly.

“So far the transition's gone really well,” Centurions coach Greg Bisignani said. “Billy's personality and his work ethic and friendliness has made it all able to work.”

Starting at guard for Greensburg Central Catholic (9-1, 3-0 WPIAL Section 3-AA), the 6-foot-4 senior is a big reason why the No. 2-ranked Centurions have started the season so strong.

After averaging 12.2 points over the last three years at Bishop McCort, Hipp is averaging 10.9 points for the section-leading Centurions this season.

But Hipp's status with Greensburg Central Catholic was not always so clear. The WPIAL initially ruled him ineligible, but after a PIAA ruling on Nov. 13 overturned the decision, Hipp was cleared to play.

“Whenever I got eligible, I was just relieved,” Hipp said. “I guess the weight was off my back, but I knew I was going to get cleared so I wasn't really thinking about it until the day came.

“I knew I was going to get cleared because at the end of the day my reasons were 100 percent true. I didn't transfer for athletics, I transferred for academics and just wanted to see what another school was like.”

An unselfish player, Hipp is a versatile guard whose size gives him the ability to see over a defense from the backcourt.

“He's good off the dribble, he certainly is a threat to shoot a jump shot and he's a good passer with great court vision, so that's a good combination to have out there,” Bisignani said.

On a team that features five starters that can lead the team in scoring on a given night, Hipp is just one of several players — including leading scorer Brian Graytok, Christian Hyland and Romano Sebastiani — that can lead the Centurions to victory.

It has been those teammates, as well as others, who have made bonding on the court a far easier task for Hipp than having to find his classes and navigate throughout the halls of a new school building.

“I have a lot in common with the team. We're all real close,” Hipp said. “Our team is what I guess you could say a family. We're all real good friends, share anything, talk about anything, it doesn't really matter. All of our personalities kind of match.”

The Centurions claimed the section title a season ago but saw their postseason hopes come to a premature end in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs. While Hipp was not around for those games, he and his teammates have their sights set high again this year.

“Our goal is a WPIAL championship and a state championship,” Hipp said.

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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