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Guido: Basketball teams segue into section play

| Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

We're just a few days into the high school basketball season, and most teams will begin section play Thursday and Friday.

The PIAA, in a misguided move, cut a week off the basketball season and added a week of state playoff football action that affects only a handful of schools.

So, that decision leaves less time to get ready for section play. All local teams, with the exception of the Class A schools, will begin the section grind later this week.

The Class A schools start section play Jan. 6-7.

With that in mind, let's look at WPIAL playoff qualification.

The top four teams in each section will make the playoffs. There is no home-field advantage like in football, but generally teams that finish in first or second place often play in a gym close to home, provided those gyms are available on playoff nights.

If there is a tie for a final qualifying position, head-to-head competition is used. If both teams split the season series, both teams will advance to the playoffs. But if a team sweeps the season's series, only that team will go.

If three or more teams tie for a final qualifying spot, head-to-head play is employed and the team with the best record advances. If all the teams split, all go to the playoffs.

That's a far cry from the postseason criteria before 1978, when only section winners were admitted to the playoffs.

Fast Spartans start

The St. Joseph High School boys and girls basketball teams are off to quick starts.

The boys are 3-0 and are the highest scoring team in the WPIAL, averaging 87 points per game. Coach Kelly Robinson's team has tallied 261 points in three games — an average of nearly three points per minute.

The Spartans will enjoy plenty of home cooking this season. Nine of the first 11 games are scheduled for their home court, and only eight of the team's 22 games are away from Walter Dlubak Gym.

Meanwhile, the St. Joseph girls (3-0) have yielded just 26.3 points per game — third best in the WPIAL. Uniontown has the best defense among girls teams, giving up just 21.6 points per outing.

Favre's counterpart

Brett Favre's record streak of 297 consecutive NFL games was halted Monday night when he was placed on the inactive list about two hours before the game against the Giants.

That's a remarkable streak considering the position he plays.

The Favre streak brings to mind that at one time, Har-Brack High School graduate Dick Modzelewski had the NFL's Iron Man streak of 180 consecutive games — quite a feat for a defensive tackle.

Modzelewski's streak started on Sept. 27, 1953, and continued until his final game in 1966 with the Browns at age 35.

"Little Mo" had the streak until another lineman, Jim Marshall of the Vikings, played in 282 in a row. Marshall retired in 1979 at age 42.

The all-time record of consecutive NFL games is held by punter Jeff Feagles, who played in 352 straight before retiring after last season.

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