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Trib Cup: South Fayette boys basketball expected to contend

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South Fayette senior point guard Evan Bonnaure Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review


Class AAAA

1. Peters Township 140

2. North Allegheny 97

3. Upper St. Clair 87

4. Mt. Lebanon 77

5. Penn-Trafford 75

6. Fox Chapel 67

7. Moon 63

8. Seneca Valley 54

9. Bethel Park 52

10. Canon-McMillan 48

11. Pine-Richland 41

12. Gateway 38

Class AAA

1. Mars 104

2. Quaker Valley 96

3. Central Valley 75

4. Hopewell 59

5t. South Fayette 49

5t. West Allegheny 49

7. South Park 48

8. Belle Vernon 43

9. Thomas Jefferson 39

10t. Indiana 38

10t. Knoch 38

12. West Mifflin 37

Class AA

1. Greensburg C.C. 121

2. Shady Side Acad. 69

3. Bishop Canevin 55

4. Seton-La Salle 45

5. Neshannock 38

6. Bentworth 36

7. Riverside 35

8. Avonworth 33

9t. Burrell 30

9t. South Allegheny 30

11. Char.-Houston 29

12. Washington 28

Class A

1. Sewickley Acad. 103

2. OLSH 45

3. Serra Catholic 34

4. Springdale 32

5. Clairton 31

6. Riverview 30

7. Aliquippa 29

8. Vincentian 28

9t. California 20

9t. Frazier 20

9t. Rochester 20

12t. Ellis School 17

12t. Geibel 17

12t. North Catholic 17


Section victories: 1 point

Playoff berth: 1

Playoff victory: 2

WPIAL/PIAA runner-up: 5/15

WPIAL/PIAA title: 10/20

Results for fall sports, basketball and wrestling

+ Classification based on PIAA enrollment figures

Top high school sports
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 10:00 p.m.

Having lost four of its five starters and facing a bulked-up group of section rivals, South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure had every reason to go the easy route when it came to constructing a nonsection schedule.

He asked his players. They wouldn't let him do it.

“I let them get involved in the schedule to kind of see what they're thinking,” Bonnaure said. “I just know how they set their sights. They realize we'll probably lose some games with this schedule, but it'll give us the best chance to reach our full potential.”

The Lions already had to deal with Montour in Section 5-AAA, and this season the WPIAL upped the ante in the section by adding WPIAL powerhouse Chartiers Valley, which is down from Class AAAA, and Keystone Oaks, which moved over from Section 4-AAA after a 20-2 regular season last year.

Among South Fayette's eight nonsection games, three are against programs from Maryland and West Virginia. All five nonsection opponents from the WPIAL are coming off playoff seasons, four of which were PIAA qualifiers.

Not an easy task for a team that had to replace three senior starters and then found out it will be without senior Zach Challingsworth due to injury. Challingsworth was the Lions' leading scorer last season.

“We've moved on,” Bonnaure said. “I like the kids that are here. We'll find out early because we know we took on a tough schedule that will make us better if we meet it head on.”

South Fayette split two tough early games, getting a big 77-69 win in its opener at Keystone Oaks Tuesday before playing what Bonnaure called “our worst game in my 10 years of coaching” Wednesday in a 49-34 loss at West Mifflin. South Fayette's home opener is 7:45 p.m. Friday against South Park.

As they have been for most of the past decade, the Lions are expected to be a factor in their section title race and perhaps make a run in the postseason. That would only help South Fayette's placing in the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award Class AAA standings. The school ranks fifth.

“We want to try to get pressure on the ball and still run when we get the ball,” Bonnaure said. “That's kind of been a defensive staple for us for the 10 years I've been there. We're trying to get it back to where we were one of the best defensive teams. We need to if we're going to have any shot at all in the section we are in.”

Bonnaure's son, senior point guard Evan Bonnaure, is the Lions' lone returning starter and high returning scorer. He had a game-high 29 points in the season opener Tuesday.

“We should be pretty balanced,” Rich Bonnaure said. “Evan's worked so hard the past year and a half to make himself a better player. He can score, or he can distribute the ball. He can be a ‘1' or a ‘2' guard but plays the ‘1' for us. He just wants to win more than any kid I've ever coached, to be honest.”

Swing man C.J. Rudisic (6-5) and 6-2 guard Lucas Russell are seniors in the starting lineup, joined by 6-2 junior forward Justin Watson and 6-4 sophomore center Brett Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh was second in the WPIAL in passing yards this past football season (Challingsworth was fourth in receiving).

Sophomore Nick McKee is the primary backup at guard, junior Ben Berkovitz spells Brumbaugh on the post, and junior Sam Guadagnino comes off the bench at forward.

Bonnaure said the group played more than 40 games in summer and fall leagues.

“We don't have a real vocal leader, but these guys having been together all summer and fall, and they've really grown up from the spring,” Bonnaure said. “They really set their sights high when we made the schedule. They're looking forward to it.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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