Dragons crushed Bulldogs on Jan. 19, but pivotal rematch set for Feb. 8
The Allderdice Dragons (13-2 as of Jan. 29) and the Westinghouse Bulldogs (12-3 as of Jan. 29) are arguably the two best teams in Western Pennsylvania.
Allderdice has won four consecutive City League boys basketball championships, and Westinghouse is off to one of its best starts in school history and was ranked in the top 10 in the state.
Westinghouse has a great basketball tradition. Former Bulldog, Maurice Stokes, is considered the greatest player in City League history. Chuck Cooper was the first Black player drafted by an NBA team, plus Ed Fleming and Junebug Howard.
More recently, Westinghouse’s tradition continues: Ricky Richburg, Shaquan Johnson, Robert Bailey, and Affani “The Hammer” Brown.
But the Bulldogs have won only three City League championships since 1955.
Two years ago, the Dragons had a team of all-stars that featured; Tim Jackson, Ramon Creighton and Pennsylvania State Player of the Year, James “Action” Jackson.
Allderdice begins one of its toughest stretches of the season and has its work cut out for itself, heading into the Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy gymnasium, Feb. 8 at 3:15 p.m., where the Bulldogs have yet to lose a true home game this season. Teams from West Virginia have come into their gym—no luck. Carrick, Perry, Obama, Imani Christian—they all walked out of Westinghouse’s gym with losses, too.
Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup:
Allderdice’s roster won’t look like the one that reached the PIAA State Championship game two years ago. Tyler Williams rode shotgun while point guards, Ramon Creighton and Jahi Ogbonna, led the team. Now Williams has taken the wheel as the Dragons’ offensive workhouse.
The 6-foot, 200-pound senior might study business in college, because of his business-like approach running the team. Williams likes to diversify.
You want somebody to score—Williams can do that. If you need to rebound, Williams can do that, too. If you need somebody to feed the ball to Jackson Blaufeld, Bobby Clifford, Terrell Childs, or Shaun Morris, count Williams in on that, as well.
The Westinghouse Bulldogs feature 6-foot-11, 235-pound senior center, “King” James Ellis.
Ellis is a player who is capable of averaging a quadruple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocked shots and 10 assists per game).
“James Ellis had games this year where he scored nearly 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. He is averaging 19 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocked shots per game and has gone unnoticed,” said Westinghouse coach Eugene Wilson. “Last year, we told him that he can have a future in basketball and not just because you’re tall. But, it’s how much work you’re willing to put in on and off the court. He added 30 pounds since last year and has great agility for a big player.”
The Bulldogs graduated senior starters, Koran Fleming, Genaro Coleman, Dominique Aime, and Allen Barr. But Ellis and first-year starters, Troy Lanier, Cam Gloster, and Rodkeem Byrd have a fierce competitive side that is evident from whistle to whistle.
Try shining a spotlight on Buddy Valinsky and he’ll do his best to shine it in another direction. The coach for Allderdice doesn’t like to take credit for his success.
“The greatest compliment is when people tell us we have a great program—and not just a great team,” said Valinsky, whose team is looking for City League title number five in a row this year. “We have a different approach this year with this team. We knew we had good shooters, so our focus is on the perimeter, sort of like the Golden State Warriors. We don’t really score inside, but this is by no accident. This shooting is from a lot of work. These kids live on a shooting machine in the summer.”
If anyone can beat the “undisputed” City League champions, it would be Westinghouse’s James Ellis, Pittsburgh’s own version of “King James.”
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