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Cosmetic changes only as basketball season opens

| Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006

The high school basketball season arrives Friday night, as teams from the Alle-Kiski Valley will be involved in tip-off tournaments.

There are no major rules changes for the coming season, as mostly cosmetic items have been emphasized by the national rules committee.

For instance, headbands or wristbands can be worn if they conform to the color of the jersey. The school mascot/logo may now adorn the headband or wristband.

There's no word as to whether coaches can wear wear wristbands, much like former Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who mysteriously wore thick wristbands while guiding his teams from the dugout.

There will be a clamp-down on illegal undershirts. Visible undershirts must be the same color as the torso of the jersey and the garments can't have frayed or ragged edges.

Basketball players behaving badly have caused problems, particularly when the clock is stopped. Now, for instance, if a player makes a derogatory comment to an official while heading to the locker room at halftime, a bench technical foul will be charged. That foul will be assessed when the third quarter begins, because the player wasn't actually in the lineup at the time of infraction. It also means the coach may not stand during the second half because of the bench technical.

Compression sleeves worn for medical reasons are legal. Decorative sleeves made of cotton or other non-supportive material are prohibited. Delay of game will be charged if the home team doesn't have the floor "ready for play" following a timeout, say, if water spills on the court, cheerleaders are late getting off the floor, etc.

Finals Friday

Friday was the 20th anniversary of all four WPIAL football finals being held at the same site, and fans responded in great numbers.

Heinz Field representatives told the WPIAL office the paid attendence was around 27,000.

WPIAL officials are pleased with the turnout, particularly since the games were held on a Friday for only the second time and all four were on live television.

Here are some other sidelights:

= The biggest winner Friday was someone who died nearly 200 years ago. Revolutionary War major general and president of the last Continental Congress, Arthur St. Clair, had two schools named after him take home WPIAL gold. Upper St. Clair defeated Penn Hills for the Class AAAA title, and Clairton bested Rochester for Class A honors. St. Clair, who received a land grant for his service in the War for Independence, died in 1818.

= Fans saw an electrifying performance from Jeannette's Terrelle Pryor, who seems to be making the transition from major college basketball prospect to an athlete headed for the Division I football ranks. While he has rushed for more than 1,300 yards as a quarterback, his performance in the defensive backfield was remarkable. Television doesn't do justice to a player who covers so much ground in the secondary. In several sequences, he guarded the area around one hash mark, then sped over and batted down a pass near the opposite hash mark.

= The Jayhawks will continue this week in the PIAA quarterfinals against Brookville at historic Offutt Field in Greensburg. Offutt Field is the oldest facility in Westmoreland County that is still in use. It was built in 1893, predating the invention of the automobile by several years.

Incidentally, the principal of Brookville High School is Keith Wolfe, a graduate of Valley High School.

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

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