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High school notebook: Hampton's Luther edges New Castle's Hooker in all-state player of the year voting

| Friday, April 4, 2014, 8:51 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
New Castle's Malik Hooker fouls Hampton's Ryan Luther, as Drew Allen looks on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, at New Castle.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Hampton's Ryan Luther pulls down a rebound over North Allegheny's Mike Fischer during WPIAL semifinal action Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at Chartiers Valley.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
New Castle's Malik Hooker (23) and his teammates celebrate their 55-49 win in the WPIAL Class AAAA boys basketball championship game against Hampton on Saturday March 1, 2014, at A.J. Palumbo Center.

Despite four head-to-head losses, Hampton senior Ryan Luther was chosen over New Castle's Malik Hooker as the state's Class AAAA boys basketball player of the year Friday in a vote of Pennsylvania sports writers.

Hooker, whose team won WPIAL and PIAA titles, received more first-place votes (10-6). Luther accumulated more total points (226-216). Both were named first-team all-state.

“I was excited and it was nice to see,” said Luther, a 6-foot-8 Pitt recruit who averaged 22 points and eight rebounds for Hampton (24-5). “Malik's a great player. Either one of us could have got it.”

Hooker, an Ohio State football recruit, averaged 22 points and nine rebounds for New Castle (31-0). The section rivals met four times this season and New Castle won them all. The series included the WPIAL Class AAAA final and a PIAA quarterfinal matchup. The player of the year award wasn't a concern, he said.

“That wasn't what I was playing for,” Hooker said. “I was playing to get a WPIAL championship and a state championship. I accomplished that.”

The WPIAL was well-represented among the all-state basketball awards.

Lincoln Park's Maverick Rowan, a sophomore Pitt recruit who averaged 28.3 points and had 37 in the PIAA championship game, was named player of the year in Class A.

Other boys first-team selections were Seton-La Salle's Dale Clancy in Class AA and Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie in Class A.

Lincoln Park's Mark Javens was named coach of the year for Class A boys, and New Castle coach Ralph Blundo was honored as coach of the year in Class AAAA. Both guided their teams to PIAA championships.

The girls all-state team also had plenty of WPIAL flavor, including players of the year in all four classifications: Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias (Class AAAA), Blackhawk's Chassidy Omogrosso (Class AAA), Seton-La Salle's Naje Gibson (Class AA) and Vincentian Academy's Brenna Wise (Class A).

Mathias, a senior Duke recruit who averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds, is a two-time all-state selection and was named the Gatorade Pennsylvania player of the year. Omogrosso, a junior Duquesne recruit, averaged 21.6 points. Gibson, a senior Pitt recruit, is a four-time all-state selection after averaging 10.1 points and 7.8 rebounds. Wise, a junior who averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, is a three-time all-state selection.

Other first-team selections from the WPIAL include Burrell's Sydney Bordonaro, Seton-La Salle's Cassidy Walsh and McGuffey's Sammie Weiss, all in Class AA.

In all, there were 14 girls from the WPIAL among first-, second- and third-team selections. Sierra Fordham from Allderdice in the City League was picked to the third team in Class AAAA, and Blairsville's Chelsey Koren (third team in AA) was the lone District 6 Heritage Conference selection.

Coaches of the year from the WPIAL are Blackhawk's Steve Lodovico (Class AAA), Seton-La Salle's Spencer Stefko (Class AA) and Vincentian's Ron Moncrief (Class A), who all led their teams to PIAA titles. Cumberland Valley coach Bill Wolf was honored in Class AAAA.

The decision between Luther and Hooker drew the most attention.

“New Castle beat us,” Luther said, “but obviously they looked at the rest of the season with some importance, too, which is nice.”

Great Valley's Mikal Bridges, a Villanova recruit, was third among Class AAAA players with 204 points. He had two first-place votes in a process that awards 12 points for a first-place vote and one point for 12th place.

Hooker's name appeared on 22 of 26 ballots. Luther, who made 24 ballots, held an edge in second-place (6-2) and third-place (3-1) votes.

Pennlive.com compiled the boys ballots. Others receiving Class AAAA first-place votes were Roman Catholic's Shep Garner (three), Williamsport's Isaiah Washington (two), Chester's Tyrell Sturdivant (one), Erie Cathedral Prep's Matty Harris (one) and New Castle's Anthony Richards (one).

Tri-County call to hall

The Tri-County Football Coaches Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2014 inductees. The ceremony will take place at halftime of the BeeGraphix All-Star Game, scheduled for 7 p.m. June 14 at McGuffey. The inductees include McGuffey coach Ed Dalton, former Elizabeth Forward coach Jim Dumm, longtime Charleroi assistant Jim Engott, current assistant at Bethel Park Russ Moore, current Waynesburg coach Rick Pavlisko and current Peters Township assistant Tom Salisbury, a former Frazier head coach.

Armed Forces game

Because of the threat of inclement weather, a baseball game between Greensburg Salem and Greensburg Central Catholic to honor the Armed Forces has been moved from Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Track invitational Saturday

The Tri-State Track and Field Coaches Association will host an invitational Saturday at West Mifflin High School. Events begin at 9 a.m., with field finals starting around 11 and track finals at noon.

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