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Three WPIAL teams making first title game appearance

Chris Harlan
| Friday, March 25, 2011

Having once worn a Montour jersey, Spartans coach Adam Kaufman appreciates his team's postseason success as much as anybody.

"It's that much more fun because we're doing it in our hometown," said Kaufman, 31, whose assistants also are Montour grads. "This doesn't happen very often. You really try to cherish it when it does."

Fueled by a late-season surge that included a WPIAL title, Montour is making its first trip to the PIAA boys basketball title game. The Spartans play defending Class AAA champion Neumann-Goretti at 8 p.m. today at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center.

As players, Kaufman and his assistants reached the state semifinals, but this year's team has bettered that accomplishment.

"We weren't good enough to do it as players," Kaufman said with a laugh, describing assistants Daren Tielsch, Barry Walsh and Adam Scuilli, who played between 1997 and 2002. "Thank God we have good enough players now to get us over the hump."

Four boys teams from the WPIAL will be playing today or Saturday for a PIAA title. For three of them — Montour, Mt. Lebanon and Lincoln Park — this will be their first shot. The Greensburg Central Catholic boys will be there for the second time, having finished runner-up in 1980.

The last time four WPIAL boys teams reached the championship games was 2004, when Penn Hills, Moon, Sto-Rox and Sewickley Academy reached Hershey. The WPIAL finished 3-1, with Sewickley losing in Class A.

The Mt. Lebanon boys play at 7 p.m. Saturday against Chester, the District 1 winner. They will be joined by their school's girls team, which is seeking a third consecutive state title. Not since 1999, when Blackhawk won both Class AAA titles, have boys and girls teams from the same school won PIAA titles. Before that, Aliquippa swept in 1989.

"We're very proud of who we are," Mt. Lebanon boys coach Joe David said, "and very proud of where we're from."

PIAA BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS

Class AAAA girls

Mt. Lebanon vs. Archbishop Carroll

6 p.m. today, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

PIAA path: Mt. Lebanon defeated Allderdice, 70-22; Bethel Park, 60-42; Shaler, 65-39; and Lower Merion, 62-35. Archbishop Carroll defeated Central Bucks East, 47-16; Downingtown East, 62-32; Wilson, 58-34; and Boyerstown, 65-41.

Probable lineups

Mt. Lebanon (24-6)

Coach: Dori Oldaker

Kelly Johnson, G, 5-7 jr.

Anna Kestler, G, 5-5 sr.

Emma Pellicano, F, 5-10 jr.

Liz Tommasi, G, 5-6 jr.

Madison Cable, F, 6-0 sr.

Archbishop Carroll (24-5)

Coach: Chuck Creighton

Ryann Fiascki, G, 5-7 sr

Meghan Creighton, G, 5-7 jr.

Emily Fazzini, F, 5-10 sr.

Jen Carney, G, 5-7 sr.

Sarah Curran, F, 5-11 so.

Top scorer: Cable 17.1, Carney 10.4, Curran 10.2

Analysis: Mt. Lebanon won, 54-52, when these teams played Jan. 15 at Philadelphia University. Cable, who is Notre Dame-bound, could help Mt. Lebanon win a third consecutive state title. The Blue Devils have reached the title game four years in a row, having lost in 2008.

Class AAAA boys

Mt. Lebanon vs. Chester

7 p.m. Saturday, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

PIAA path: Mt. Lebanon defeated Schenley, 78-61; State College, 60-48; Gateway, 59-33; Butler, 62-48; and Penn Wood, 52-48, in overtime. Chester defeated Dallastown, 69-56; West Chester Rustin, 75-56; La Salle College, 68-50; and Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 73-50.

Probable lineups

Mt. Lebanon (27-3)

Coach: Joe David

Evan Eaton, G, 6-3 sr.

Luke Hagy, G, 6-0 jr.

Tyler Roth, G, 6-2 so.

George Hensler, F, 6-4 sr.

Paul Lang, F, 6-5 sr.

Chester (30-1)

Coach: Larry Yarbray

Maurice Nelson, G, 5-11 sr.

Dequann Walker, G/F, 6-4 sr.

Lamon Church, G/F, 6-5 sr.

Erikk Wright, F, 6-4 jr.

Richard Grandberry, C, 6-6 so.

Top scorers: Nelson 15.0, Church 14.0, Eaton 13.6, Lang 13.3

Analysis: This is the Mt. Lebanon boys' first trip to the championship game. Chester, the District 1 champion, has reached 16 title games and won six, most recently in 2008. Chester has no players with Division I offers, but Mt. Lebanon will be tested by Nelson, the brother of NBA guard Jameer Nelson.

Class AAA boys

Montour vs. Neumann-Goretti

8 p.m. today, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

PIAA path: Montour defeated Sharon, 72-42; New Castle, 55-50; Perry, 56-51; and South Fayette, 57-44. Neumann-Goretti defeated Annville-Cleona, 62-34; West Scranton, 75-41; Octorara, 57-30; and Lancaster Catholic, 82-75.

Probable lineups

Montour (23-7)

Coach: Adam Kaufman

Aaron McGee, F, 6-2 sr.

Jimmy Sciulli, G, 5-11 sr.

Devin Wilson, G, 6-3 so.

Dillon Buechel, G, 6-4 jr.

Austin Heter, F, 6-5 sr.

Neumann-Goretti (26-4)

Coach: Carl Arrigale

Lamin Fulton, G, 5-10 sr.

Billy Shank, G, 5-10 jr.

Ja'Quann Newton, G, 6-2 fr.

John Davis, F, 6-4 so.

Derrick Stewart, F, 6-5 jr.

Top scorers: Fulton 15.8, Buechel 14.9, Wilson 13.1

Analysis: Neumann-Goretti won the 2010 title, defeating Chartiers Valley and star senior T.J. McConnell. But four starters are gone from that team. Fulton, a 3-point threat, signed with St. Peter's. Montour favors a slower, halfcourt game, but Neumann-Goretti will try to make Buechel and Wilson play an up-tempo style.

Class AA boys

Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Imhotep Charter

2 p.m. Saturday, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

PIAA path: Greensburg Central Catholic defeated Bellwood Antis, 88-62; Summit Academy, 72-61; Beaver Falls, 61-60; and Monessen, 64-61. Imhotep defeated Wyomissing, 78-36; Elmer L. Meyers, 56-33; Vaux, 54-53; and Communications Tech, 49-38.

Probable lineups

Greensburg Central Catholic (27-3)

Coach: Greg Bisignani

Jesse Reed, G, 6-5 sr.

Ben Klimchock, G, 5-9 jr.

Jake Swan, G, 5-8 sr.

P.J. McLaughlin, F, 6-7 jr.

Dan Sinwell, F, 6-2 jr.

Imhotep Charter (30-3)

Coach: Andre Noble

David Appolon, G, 6-3 sr.

Terrell Johnson, G, 5-11 sr.

Erik Copes, C, 6-8 sr.

Brandon Austin, F, 6-6 so.

Ameen Tanksley, G/F, 6-5 sr.

Top scorers: Reed 16.9, Tanksley 12.9, McLaughlin 12.5, Appolon 10.7

Analysis: Imhotep has three Division I-bound seniors — Appolon (Robert Morris), Copes (George Washington) and Tanksley (Niagara) — leading Bisignani to compare these Panthers to those who play for Pitt. The Centurions will have to fare well on the offensive glass to overcome Imhotep's air-tight defense.

Class A boys

Lincoln Park vs. MCS Charter

3 p.m. today, Bryce Jordan Center, University Park

PIAA path: Lincoln Park defeated West Middlesex, 70-35; Elk County Catholic, 66-47; Clairton, 62-57; and Vincentian, 53-47. MCS Charter defeated Marian Catholic, 71-45; Millville, 78-38; Church Farm, 70-48; and Constitution, 87-74.

Probable lineups

Lincoln Park (21-7)

Coach: Mark Javens

Devontae Watson, C, 6-10 jr.

Kyle Taylor, G, 5-11 sr.

Sharron Moreland-Jones, G, 6-0 sr.

Chaquille Pratt, G, 6-3 sr.

Jevar Smith, G, 6-2 sr.

MCS Charter (25-5)

Coach: Dan Jackson

Warren Dogan, G, 6-2 sr.

Thomas Moore, G, 5-11 sr.

Muhammad Amin, F, 5-11 sr.

Jeremiah Worthem, G/F, 6-6 so.

Tyreek Riddick, G/F, 6-1 sr.

Top scorers: Pratt 22.7, Watson 16.4, Moore 15.4, Worthem 14.1

Analysis: Coming out of the ultra-competitive Philadelphia Public League, Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter — like Lincoln Park — is a battle-tested group making its first appearance in the state title game. The matchup between Watson and Worthem should provide plenty of sparks. Worthem has an offer from Rice, and Watson is receiving heavy interest from Saint Joseph's and Temple.

Additional Information:

At a glance

PIAA CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE

Today

*All games at Bryce Jordan Center

Class AAA boys

Neumann-Goretti vs Montour, 8:00 p.m.

Class A boys

MCS Charter vs Lincoln Park Charter, 3:00 p.m.

Class AAAA girls

Archbishop Carroll vs Mt. Lebanon, 6:00 p.m.

Class AA girls

Dunmore vs Villa Maria Academy, 1:00 p.m.

Saturday

*All games at Bryce Jordan Center

Class AAAA boys

Chester vs Mt. Lebanon, 7:00 p.m.

Class AA boys

Imhotep Charter vs Greensburg Central Catholic, 2:00 p.m.

Class AAA girls

Archbishop Wood vs Mercyhurst Prep, 5:00 p.m.

Class A girls

Steelton-Highspire vs Bishop Guilfoyle, 12:00 p.m.

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