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Guido: NA's hardwood unkind to A-K Valley playoff teams

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By George Guido
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 1:16 a.m.
 

There's little doubt Burrell's Tuesday night loss to Seton-La Salle in the PIAA semifinals at North Allegheny was to an outstanding team.

But the setback came at a place where local teams have struggled over the past several playoff seasons.

The McCandless court was not kind to Alle-Kiski Valley playoff teams during this postseason.

Local teams went 1-5 at North Allegheny with the Fox Chapel girls victory over Norwin on Feb. 21 the lone win. The boys from Apollo-Ridge, Knoch and Kiski Area, along with the Kittanning and Burrell girls saw there playoff dreams dashed along Route 19.

Last season wasn't quite as bad. Local schools went 3-5, including the Burrell boys' overtime win against Quaker Valley that vaulted the Bucs into the WPIAL title game. But in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs, local teams went a combined 0-8 at North Allegheny.

Champions fundraiser

Fans can rub elbows with some high school, college and Steelers greats of the past March 29 when Champions Enterprises of Pittsburgh sponsors a fundraiser at Rivers Casino.

Among those slated for the meet-and-greet are Louis Lipps, Dwayne Woodruff, J.T. Thomas, Robin Cole, Andy Russell, Mike Wagner and Hall of Famer Mel Blount.

Also on hand will be Valley and Duquesne University basketball great B.B. Flenory, Sto-Rox and Slippery Rock standout Myron Brown, Jennifer Bruce and Master Jacquet Bazemore.

The event will be from 7 to 10 p.m. for those ages 21 and older.

Champions Enterprises is devoted to enhancing and improving lives of disadvantaged youths in Allegheny County with 18 different programs, among them the Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League, designed to keep youngsters busy and positive.

Contact Bill Neal at 412-628-4856.

Site selection woes

While the PIAA and WPIAL searched for a suitable site for last Saturday's eighth battle between New Castle and Hampton in the past two seasons, it brought back memories of a local problem from 1970.

New Castle defeated Hampton, 57-55, at Bethel Park.

Other facilities such as Palumbo Center, Sewall Center at Robert Morris, and North Allegheny and Ambridge high schools weren't available, forcing both schools to play in a geographically, out-of-the-way facility.

In 1970, Valley and Highlands tied for Section 1 honors.

In those days, only section winners were admitted to the WPIAL playoffs.

Finding a site for the Highlands-Valley tiebreaker wasn't easy.

Civic Arena wasn't available — likewise Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House and Carnegie Mellon's Skibo Gym. The WPIAL insisted on a college floor, and had to settle for Geneva College in Beaver Falls.

That didn't stop the fans from traveling 55 miles to Geneva, as a packed house of 3,500 watched Highlands defeat Valley, 57-50.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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