JADEN ALTOMORE scored17 points in the Monessen Greyhounds win over Imani Christian in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

The postseason has a knack of exposing a team’s imperfections, such as the Imani Christian Saints (15-7) inability to be consistent and to keep their composure.

Monessen (17-7), behind Justice Rice scoring a game-high 30 points, Jaden Altomore added 17, Lyndon Henderson had 13, and Vaughn Taylor 10, blew out Imani Christian 74-59 Thursday night at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center to win the WPIAL Class A title.

The Saints spent the season depending on senior star Kenny Robinson and junior Sam Fairley and the combination of over-whelming dependence and vulnerability is the reason for their poor play.

JUSTICE RICE of Monessen scored 30 points to lead the Greyhounds to a 74-59 win over Imani Christian in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

Both Robinson and Fairley got into foul trouble early and eventually fouled out of the game.

With the two stars sitting on the bench, with three first-half fouls, nothing came easy for the Saints. They missed shots with regularity, threw the ball away and looked lethargic on defense and the Greyhounds sent the Saints marching home early.

In a brief moment of frustration, Kenny Robinson  slammed into several

Monessen players and was assessed with double-technical in the first quarter and will be ineligible to play in Imani Christian’s first round PIAA playoff game.

Winning and losing matter to Kenny Robinson, but he can find victory outside the basketball court, too.  Robinson is 6’3 and one of the top all around athletes in the state and he will be playing his college football at West Virginia University.

Despite being in foul trouble Robinson finished with 21 points and teammate Sam Fairley added 18.

Monessen could not have drawn it up any better and took advantage of Imani’s inexperience.

The greyhounds have won five titles since 2001.  The win was the sixth title for coach Joe Salvino.

Monessen, in its fifth district title game in seven years. The Greyhounds’ other titles came in 1919 (3A), ’95 (A), 2001 (A), ’02 (A), ’11 (AA) and ’15 (A).

Both teams moved into the PIAA playoffs.  Monessen will meet the fourth-place team from District 9,  Imani Christian will open against the third-place team from District 6.


ISAIAH SMITH (4) of Sewickley Academy blocks a shot by Desmond Ross of Our Lady of Sacred Heart in the WPIAL Class AA championship game which Sewickley Academy won 71-60.

ISIAH WARFIELD (3) of Sewickley Academy drives on Matt Quinn of Our Lady of Sacred Heart  in the WPIAL Class AA championship game. (Photos by William McBride)

Luck of the Irish helps Rams win back-to-back titles

Phil Jurkovec, is a star quarterback for Pine-Richland (24-1) and the junior will play football for Notre Dame and “the luck of the Irish” continues to shine on him.

Jurkovec scored 21-points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Rams 72-61victory over Butler Saturday night at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

The win gives Pine-Richland its second consecutive title after the Rams won the Class 4A title a year ago.  This was the first year of six classifications, and Pine-Richland ended up winning the largest class again.

It is only the sixth time since the 1970s that a team has won consecutive titles in the largest classification.  New Castle did it twice while The Gateway Gators, Beaver Falls and Farrell repeated once.

Pine-Richland coach Jeff Ackermann, who has won five championships, including three at Moon.

The thought of Norman Dale’s famous line from “Hoosiers,” one of the best sports movies, when the Rams took the Pitt’s Petersen Events Center Saturday night to play the Butler Golden Tornado’s (17-9).

“My team is on the floor.”

What the fans saw from the Rams gave them a glimpse of what they’ll see in the PIAA tournament.

Although practice time is rare and precious at this time of year—keeping players reasonably well-rested for the state playoffs tends to be more of a priority—the Rams are led by Jurkovic and senior guard Andrew Petcash , and all the players appreciate the rest.

With the win the Pine-Richland Rams will head to the PIAA Boys Basketball Championships on a high note and will take on the Latrobe Wildcats on Saturday, March 11.  The Butler Golden Tornado will face the Canon McMillan Big Macs in the first round of the tournament on Saturday as well.

Bad Moon rising

Jarrod Simmons has pulled on a Moon Tigers (20-5) jersey 25 times this season.

His performance in their 69-62 victory against Hampton Friday night at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center—Simmons finished with 22 points, 21 rebounds, 8 blocked shots, 3 assists and 2 steals to seal the game—might not have been his absolute finest, but it probably wasn’t far from it.

Simmons’ family lives in Moon’s district and he attended Moon schools through junior high.  But for his freshman through junior years, Simmons played at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass.

And all the 6-foot-7 Simmons has done is carry the Tigers to a WPIAL championship.

Simmons, who has committed to the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League, was pretty good during the regular season, averaging 17 points, but became a “mad man” during the playoffs.

The WPIAL title was the fourth for Moon, which also defeated Hampton twice in the regular season: 72-65 and 47-46.

If familiarity does breed contempt, then Simmons should have a strong dislike for every opponent.

It’s hard to upstage Moon’s senior Jarrod Simmons and he play best on the biggest stage.


Sam-I-Am leads Cardinal Wuerl  North Catholic to title

Sam Clancy starred for Pitt from 1977 to 1981 and became the first Pitt player to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds.  Sam Young was a 2009 basketball All-American at Pitt.

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Samantha (Sam) Breen might be the best Sammie to play on the floor at Pitt.

Sam Breen, a Dayton recruit who has more than 2,000 career points, scored a game-high 34 points and had 20 rebounds as Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic (23-2) rolled to a 65-36 victory over Blackhawk to win the WPIAL Class 4A title.

Breen’s performance was remindful of one from the great Terrelle Pryor in a title game nine years ago when the Jeannette star had a triple-double with 39 points, 24 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

Arguably the best basketball player in WPIAL history, Breen is off to the PIAA tournament to finish her remarkable high school career.

Blackhawk had the better team speed, but lacked the size to compete with the Trojanettes.

North Catholic, which averages a WPIAL-best 65 points per game, has a tall, talented frontcourt led by Breen, the top post player in the WPIAL.

Breen, a Dayton recruit, is averaging 22.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.  She has 2,396 career points and 1,128 rebounds.  Breen (6 feet 1) is joined down low by 6-2 Kylie Huffman and 6-1 Dani Short.  Huffman is second on the team in scoring with 11.5 points a game.

The CWNC Trojanettes who won a record 17th WPIAL Title and coach, Molly Rottmann, became only the fifth coach in WPIAL history to win six WPIAL championships.

DAEJA QUICK, a 5’ 5”  dynamo from Cornell scored 20 points for the Raiders but it was not enough as the Raiders lost to Winchester-Thurston in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

AYANNA TOWNSEND of Winchester-Thurston scored 21 points and controlled the glass in the Bears 52-41 win over Cornell in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

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