CV leads list of all-stars
When Chartiers Valley dropped down to Class AAA, the Colts expectedly continued to dominate the action on the hardcourts in the South Hills. However, CV’s exit from Quad-A did not diminish the drama in Section 4. The basketball season presented plenty of surprises. New heroes emerged alongside the tried and true talent.
While the Colts’ run concluded with a sixth appearance in a WPIAL championship contest, a PIAA quarterfinal playoff appearance and a 24-5 record, Upper St. Clair captured an unexpected section title, rolled up one of the longest winning streaks in the league at 17 games and finished 20-4 overall. Meanwhile, Canon-McMillan rejoined the playoff picture along with Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park. Plus, South Fayette provided thrilling competition for CV as well as Montour, which won the WPIAL Class AAA title.
Hence it comes as no shock that these teams headline The Almanac Elite Eleven. With three all-stars, CV leads the list. Michael Boulos earned first-team laurels while Spencer Casson and Matt McConnell gained second-team praise.
A senior who doubles as a standout football player, Boulos ranked as one of the top players in Section 5. The senior guard led the Colts in scoring with a 17.9 average. He ranked second on the team in steals with 74 and assists with 52. Despite his diminutive size — he stands 5 feet, 11 inches — Boulos grabbed 106 rebounds, second only to Casson.
“Michael was our go-to guy,” said CV skipper Tim McConnell. “He’s sneaky quick, super athletic. He can shoot it and he knows how to get the ball to the basket.”
Casson, meanwhile, knew his way around the basket. The 6-6 senior forward altered many an opponents’ shots while providing the Colts a strong inside presence.
Casson, who registered four triple doubles, averaged 10.8 points, 10 rebounds and 7.6 blocked shots a game. He ranked No. 1 on the team in both rebounding and blocked shots.
The Colts averaged 70.6 points per game in part because of the deft shooting of McConnell. The sophomore averaged 16.3 tallies a game. He led the squad in steals and ranked No. 2 in assists. He finished as the team’s third-leading rebounder.
While Jordan Grabowski earned Almanac MVP honors (see related story) based in part on the coaches’ survey, Gabe Pritz would have been given stronger consideration for Player of the Year honors where it not for his team’s dismal record. Peters Township finished 8-14 overall and second-to-last in Section 4-AAAA with a 5-9 slate.
Pritz certainly gained the respect of his adversaries. “Since I have been at Bethel Park, Gabe has been the best player that I have coached against,” said Ben O’Connor. “He’s a very athletic player that went about his business with a poker face. He played the game the right way – hard and humble.”
Along the way, he racked up impressive numbers. He averaged 19.2 points per game, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots. He scored 1,013 career points and registered 16 double-doubles. He converted 53.4 percent of his shots from the field.
“Gabe was a do-it all player for us for three seasons,” said PT skipper Gary Goga. “I’m going to miss him as a player but I’m going to miss him more as a person. He’s that good of a kid.”
Three fit image
Three additional Almanac all-stars fit the description of “good person, good player.” They include Mt. Lebanon’s Tyler Roth, Cory Sevacko from Keystone Oaks and Bethel Park’s Cody Gilchrist.
A starter since his sophomore season, Roth led Lebo in scoring, play-making and rebounding. He averaged 14.5 points for the Blue Devils, who qualified for the playoffs but lost in the first round and finished 10-13 overall. Roth dished up five assists and pulled down six rebounds a game.
“He was rock solid as always in all aspects of his game,” said Goga, who has coached against Roth for three seasons.
Goga had similar praise for Gilchrist, against whom he has also coached years. “He was a great playmaker. He plays hard. Solid. Great kid,” said Goga.
Gilchrist averaged 11 points per game for the Hawks, who finished runner-up to USC in Section 4 with an 11-3 record. A three-year starter, he also pulled down six rebounds a game for BP, which finished 17-6 overall.
“Cody made big plays in big games when his teammates needed someone to step up,” said O’Connor. “He was a warrior.”
Cory Sevacko battled, too, although his team experienced little success. His Keystone Oaks club finished 9-13 overall and 5-7 in Section 5-AAA.
Despite those numbers, Sevacko obtained recognition in the league, claiming all-section honors. The 6-3 senior swingman also made his second appearance on the Almanac all-star roster. He led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 20.5 points per game.
Shooting and scoring were the forte of Evan Bonnaure from South Fayette and Brett Haney from Canon-McMillan. The pair round out the Elite Eleven list, both as first-team picks.
Bonnaure guided the Lions to the quarterfinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, a PIAA playoff berth and a 14-11 record. He led the team in scoring with a 16.8 average. He ranked second on the team in rebounding with 4.7 caroms a game. He also averaged 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals a game.
Bonnaure converted 44 percent of his field goals (141 of 317) and 39 percent of his shots from three-point range (67 of 170).
Bonnaure handled being coached by his father with aplomb. “He handled being a coach’s son with grace and integrity,” Rich Bonnaure said. “He has earned my ultimate respect.”
Haney earned the respect of many Quad-A coaches for his uncanny ability to convert long-range field goals, too. He cashed in 35 percent of the time from 3-point land. He averaged 17.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Big Macs, who earned a playoff spot and finished with 11 wins.
“Brett worked hard to become a really good player,” said Goga. “He went absolutely bonkers the second half of the season and just couldn’t be stopped.”
Among the players receiving Almanac honorable mention recognition include:
• Rohan Young and Wyatt Hagerty from Bethel Park.
A senior, Young averaged 11 points and a team-high five assists per game. He also picked up two steals a game. A two-year starter, he was the “perfect” captain on the floor and in the locker room says head coach Ben O’Connor.
Hagerty, who will play at James Madison, averaged 12 points per game. The seven-foot senior center pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds and blocked 2.5 shots per game.
“You had to account for Wyatt at all times around the rim,” said Goga. “He killed us at our place. He really improved over the years.”
Improvements should continue predicts O’Connor. “Wyatt made tremendous strides this year with hard work and effort,” said the BP floor boss. “His best years are way ahead of him.”
• Jake Seligman, Nico DiPaolo and Mike Tambellini from Bishop Canevin. The Crusaders earned a playoff spot thanks to the efforts of this trio. The Crusaders, who finished 7-5 in Section 4-AA, finished 11-13 overall after falling to West Allegheny in the post-season.
A senior, Seligman led the team in scoring with 16 points per game. The forward also ranked No. 1 in rebounding with 10 caroms an outing.
A senior, Nico DiPaolo engineered the offense, averaging a team-high eight assists a game. He supplied 10 points per game as well.
A senior forward, Tambellini balanced his contributions. He averaged eight points as well as eight rebounds an outing.
• Kodie Hanley and Dylan Pounds. Although Chartiers-Houston finished 8-14 overall, this duo excelled. Each averaged 10.1 points per game for the Bucs.
• Justin David. This Mt. Lebanon senior averaged 12 points, three rebounds and two assists per game.
• Dale Clancy, Levi Masua, Malik White. This trio guided Seton-La Salle to an undefeated (12-0) Section 4-AA title. Though the Rebels sported a 21-3 record, they met an early exit in the playoffs, falling, 62-61, to Quaker Valley in the WPIAL tournament. A junior point guard, Clancy averaged 13.6 points per game. He earned all-section honors for the second straight season. Masua managed 11.5 points while White averaged 9.2 points. Both are juniors and both gained all-section recognition.
• Zach Challingsworth and C.J. Rudisill from South Fayette. Despite missing the first half of the season due to a lingering football injury, Challingsworth excelled in the second half of the season as the Lions earned berths in both the district and state playoffs, losing in each instance to section rivals Chartiers Valley and Montour. Challingsworth will play football at Pitt. A smooth-shooting guard, C.J. Rudisill ranked No. 2 in scoring with a 12.5 average. He also grabbed five rebounds a game.
•J.J. Conn and Joel Klein from Upper St. Clair. A senior, Klein set a school record with 62 career 3-point field goals. He averaged eight points per game. A junior, Conn ranked No. 2 on the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.7 points per game and 101 caroms on the year. A sharpshooter from the charity stripe, he converted 80 percent of his attempts (105-130) from the line. Both Klein (baseball) and Conn (football) are two-sport standouts at USC.
Two share ROTY title
The future of high school basketball in the South Hills is in good hands as sophomore guards Joey Mascaro and Jonny David made their presence felt on the courts. Each share the honor as Almanac Rookie of the Year.
A shooting guard, David ranked No. 3 in scoring at Mt. Lebanon. He averaged 10 points per game and was deadly from 3-point range. He also finished No. 2 in the play-making department, dishing up four assists per game. He also managed 3.5 rebounds.
The cog that made the wheels at Bethel Park spin, Mascaro directed the offense from the point position. “Most of our success came through Joey,” said BP skipper Ben O’Connor. “He is a very, very quick guard that can do so many things well.”
Players to watch
Among the players to watch include:
• Josh Kracfynzski. This Bethel Park junior was noted for his timely baskets during critical times in the game. A solid sub, look for him to have a fuller impact as a starter next season for the Hawks, who lose four starters to graduation.
• Alex Ferrari. This Chartiers-Houston sophomore scored 250 points in 22 games for an 11.4-point average.
• Haedyn Herzer and Dom Castello. This duo keyed Chartiers Valley’s success from the guard position. Costello averaged 10.1 points per game. He collected 43 assists and 39 steals. Herzer led the Colts in assists with 70. He averaged 7.1 points, managed 26 steals and grabbed 54 rebounds.
• Sam Bohn. The Canon-McMillan sophomore averaged 8.5 points per game and three rebounds an outing. The guard also managed 2.9 assists a game. He converted 37 percent of the 3-point field goal attempts.
• Tim Swoope. This Peters Township sophomore average 4.2 points a game. He ranked No. 2 on the squad in rebounds with 3.1 per game and steals, averaging 1.2 a game. According to head coach Gary Goga, Swoope has the potential to be a really good player if he continues to work. “He played the fifth most minutes on the team yet was second in two very important categories. He also became our best on-the-ball defender as the season progressed.”
Coach of the year
Six games into the 2012-13 season, the Upper St. Clair boys’ basketball team hit rock bottom. Floundering at 3-3 after an embarrassing loss, 38-17, to rival Bethel Park, the Panthers rallied around their mentor. And, Dan Holzer squeezed out every ounce of greatness in his players.
USC went on a 17-game tear that culminated in a championship the Panthers were not supposed to win. They wrested the Section 4 title away from the highly favored Black Hawks, finishing with a 13-1 league record. Along the way to reaching the quarterfinals in the WPIAL playoffs, USC toppled highly-regarded clubs such as Gateway, Norwin and Chartiers Valley.
Under Holzer, USC finished 20-4. During the Panthers’ run, Holzer also registered his 300th career win. His coaching record includes 313 victories, including two WPIAL championships.
For his efforts this season, Holzer garnered Almanac Coach of the Year honors.
“It was a great run we had this season,” Holzer said. “I was so proud of my players and what pleased me the most was how unselfish they were and how they truly cared for one another. I will remember them and this season for a long time.”