Lebo, Canevin, Char-Houston, lead boys’ all-star list
While no local boys’ basketball teams collected championship hardware, they produced plenty of positives this season.
After going undefeated and capturing a section banner, Bishop Canevin reached the Final Four in both the WPIAL and PIAA tournaments. The Crusaders posted a 22-6 record during their season to remember. Chartiers-Houston, likewise, fashioned an undefeated section title before advancing to the WPIAL quarterfinals and the Sweet Sixteen round of the PIAA playoffs. The Buccaneers finished 19-6 overall. Mt. Lebanon duplicated those efforts with a section plaque but lost in the first round of the district playoffs. The Blue Devils, who performed in the highest classification of the WPIAL, posted a 14-9 record.
Almanac Elite Eleven Boys’ Basketball All-Stars
Britton Beachy Canon-McMillan Guard 13.9 ppg. 3.2 assists, 5.7 rpg
Walter Bonds Bishop Canevin Guard 16 ppg. 5 assists, 4 rpg.
Mitchell King Bishop Canevin Forward 20 ppg. 6 rpg. 2 assists
Mark Lamendola Mt. Lebanon Guard 14.1 ppg. 5.2 rpg. 3.7 assists
AJ Myers Chartiers-Houston Guard 22.5 ppg. 6.7 rpg. 3.4 assists
R.J. Bell Canon-McMillan Forward 12.1 ppg. 4.7 rpg.
Cameron Hanley Chartiers-Houston Forward 19.2 ppg. 10.4 rpg
Kyle Meinert Upper St. Clair Guard 16.1 ppg.
Augie Garofoli Mt. Lebanon Guard 11.6 ppg. 1.5 assists
Mike Cortese Petes Township Forward 15.5 ppg. 1.5 assists
MVP Walter Bonds, Bishop Canevin
HONORABLE MENTION: Justin Meis–Bethel Park; Carson Miller–Canon-McMillan; Caleb Zajicek, Ross Wilkerson, Coleman Vaughn–Chartiers Valley; Sean Loughran–Mt. Lebanon; Matt Thelk–Peters Township; Jakob Richardson–Seton-La Salle; Matt Thomas–South Fayette; Gabe Houy, Darius Radfar, Jack Hansberry–Upper St. Clair
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Joe Pipilo–Chartiers Valley
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eugene Goodwine–Bishop Canevin; Mike Palmer–Mt. Lebanon; Dax Ploskina–Peters Township; Michael Bigley, Dylan Preston–Seton-La Salle
COACH OF THE YEAR: Kevin Trost, Bishop Canevin
Hence, it comes as no surprise that these successful clubs headline the list of players selected to The Almanac’s Elite Eleven list. The Crusaders, Blue Devils and Bucs placed two individuals on the list with Canevin capturing top honors as Walter Bonds has been named most valuable player. (See related article.)
Two join Bonds
Two members of the Canevin squad join Bonds on the Almanac all-star list. Mitchell King earned first-team laurels while Kevin Trost garnered coach of the year laurels. Both make their second straight showing on the all-star unit.
In his third season at the helm, Trost has kept the Crusaders at the top. He took over a program that was 15-31 from 2013-14 all the way to the Final Four at the district and state level, losing only to eventual champion and section nemesis, Sewickley Academy.
A senior guard, King also was an all-section selection. He led the Crusaders in scoring with a 20-point average. He grabbed six rebounds and dished up three assists. He also managed three steals a game and converted 47 percent of his field goals and 71 percent of his foul shots. He buried 71 three-pointers.
“Mitchell can do it all offensively,” said Trost. “He can shoot the three and he can finish at the rim. He handles the ball extremely well and isn’t afraid to take big shots.”
Lebo’s big shots
Mark Lamendola and Augie Garofoli were Lebo’s big shots. According to opposing coaches, Lamendola played a pivotal role in the Blue Devils’ success, particularly down the stretch. They predict a bright future, too, for the point guard.
“Mark was dominant on both ends,” Peters Township skipper Gary Goga said. “He’s a warrior and plays the game the right way. I enjoyed watching him throughout his career. He will be a really solid college player.”
Lamendola had a solid career at Lebo. He garnered Almanac Rookie of the Year honors and has made the all-star list the past two seasons. He also was the Player of the Year in Section 2.
Lamendola, who scored more than 1,000 points in his career, averaged 14.1 tallies a game. He also led the team in steals (3.1), assists (3.7) and rebounds (5.2) an outing.
Garofoli also has gone from Almanac Rookie of the Year to a member of the Elite Eleven’s second team. Lebo’s smallest player on the court proved one of the most dangerous thanks to his uncanny knack for draining the 3-pointer. According to his coach, Joe David, when Garofoli gets in the zone, he’s fun to watch and he gets the crowd hopping.
The 5-5 junior averaged 11.6 points per game. He also contributed 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals a contest.
CH’s scoring duo
AJ Myers and Cam Hanley proved a dynamic duo on offense for the Bucs. This one-two punch accounted for 65 percent of the team’s points.
Myers led the team with a 22.5 average. Hanley followed at 19.2 a clip for the Bucs, who scored 65.8 points a contest. The Section 2-AA MVP, Myers also pulled down 6.7 rebounds and dished up 3.4 assists a game. He managed 3.1 steals. Meanwhile, Hanley led the team in rebounding with 10.4 caroms a contest. He dished up 3.8 assists and collected 4.2 steals. Hanley also earned all-section laurels.
C-M adds two
Though Canon-McMillan finished runner-up to Mt. Lebanon in the section race, the Big Macs had a longer run in the playoffs. They reached the Elite Eight in the WPIAL tournament and qualified for the PIAA playoffs. In the post-season, the Big Macs lost close contests with North Allegheny, 70-67, and Butler, 51-46, and finished the year at 18-7 overall.
Two key components to C-M’s success were Britton Beachy and RJ Bell.
Beachy makes his second appearance on both the Elite Eleven as well as the section all-star squads.
The senior directed the offense. Beachy pumped in 13.9 points per game and dished up 3.2 assists. Though the team’s point guard, he also led in rebounds with 5.7 per game. He also converted 55 percent of his field goal attempts.
A four-year starter, Beachy completed his career as a 1,000-point scorer. While he achieved that milestone, it was not at the expense of the team.
“Britton was not a shoot first point guard,” C-M floor boss Rick Bell said. “I always felt at peace when the ball was in Britton’s hands.”
Meanwhile, Bell was at peace when his son was on the floor. A four-year letter winner and three-year starter, the younger Bell chipped in 12.1 points to the offense and grabbed 4.7 rebounds. He converted 80 percent of his free throws. “RJ has a high basketball IQ and has really grown as a player the last four years,” Coach Bell said. “He has the ability to stretch the defense because of his shooting range.”
Two bright spots
Though Peters Township and Upper St. Clair did not experience the success they have enjoyed in past seasons, they did have their bright spots. Those were their top scorers and they, too, had great shooting ranges.
Mike Cortese paced Peters with a 15.5-point average. The senior guard dished up 1.5 assists for the Indians, who were 13-9 overall. “Mike was a scorer and leader for us,” said Goga, the PT coach. “He improved his game every year and was a pleasure to coach. He’s a three level scorer and was a big part of our offense.”
Kyle Meinert, meanwhile, keyed the USC offense. The junior averaged 16.1 points per game, tops on the a team that finished 14-9 overall.
CV has ROTY
On a club with veteran experience, Chartiers Valley needed a newcomer like Joe Pipolo to make an impact at the Class 5-A level in the competitive Section 2. The Colts finished runner-up to Moon and Mars, which both reached the Final Four in the WPIAL The Tigers lost to Hampton, which also competed in Section 2, in the title tilt. CV finished 17-8 overall after reaching the PIAA playoffs.
Pipolo provided the lift for the Colts. The freshman averaged 10.2 points per game to go along with 55 rebounds, eight blocked shots, 18 steals and 23 assists.
“Joe was a pleasant surprise,” said CV coach Tim McConnell. “We knew he could shoot but he looked for and found the other open player. He stepped in when other people went out and he never missed a beat. He’s working hard already to get even better.”
Among the players garnering honorable mention status were:
• Justin Meis from Bethel Park. This junior ranked among the team’s top scorers and should help the squad improve upon its 6-16 record.
• Carson Miller from Canon-McMillan. This four-year varsity starter averaged 11.1 points and 4.7 rebounds a game. He had 49 steals. “Carspm has worked as hard as any player I have ever coached on his skill development,” C-M skipper Rick Bell said. “Carson made himself into an excellent offensive player. He always played very hard.”
• Caleb Zajicek and Coleman Vaughn from Chartiers Valley.
A senior, Zajicek averaged 14.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
A junior, Vaughn managed 11.7 points an outing. He led the team in rebounding with a 7.4 average. He averaged 2.1 assists a game.
• Sean Loughran from Mt. Lebanon. This small forward averaged 20.6 points for the Blue Devils.
• Jakob Richardson from Seton-La Salle. This junior fired in 13.2 points per game and pulled down 6.7 rebounds an outing. He earned first-team, all-section laurels.
• Matt Thomas from South Fayette. This senior guard fired in 15.4 points per game for the Lions, who (record, stats)
Gabe Houy, Darius Radfar, Jack Hansberry from Upper St. Clair. This trio helped the Panthers surge to a playoff spot late in the season, finishing fourth in Section 2 in Class 6-A. Overall USC finished 14-9.
Players to watch
Among the players to watch are:
• Eugene Goodwine from Bishop Canevin. This sophomore guard was only a junior varsity roster player last year but moved into the starting line-up this season and did not miss a game for the Crusaders. He averaged 11 points per game.
• Michael Bigley and Dylan Preston. This pair of freshmen provide a bright future for Seton-La Salle, which lost to eventual WPIAL champion Lincoln Park in overtime during the playoffs.
• Dax Ploskina from Peters Township. This 6-foot sophomore averaged 11.7 points per game for the Indians. “Dan has a bright future,” said PT floor boss Gary Goga. “He need to keep working and get stronger, but if he takes care of business, he can be a rock solid player.