Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Patriot-News basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chester (14-3)
2. Lower Merion (16-2)
3. Harrisburg (18-1)
4. McCaskey (17-2)
5. New Castle (17-0)
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (15-3)
7. Cathedral Prep (15-2)
8. Williamsport (14-2)
9. North Allegheny (15-1)
10. Martin Luther King (18-1)
Honorable mention
\York (16-2), State College (12-4), Abington (13-4), Council Rock North (13-5), Norristown (15-3), Penn Wood (11-6), Pennsbury (12-4), Ridley (15-2), Great Valley (16-0) Hatboro-Horsham (13-3), Upper St. Clair (13-3), Gateway (11-3), Hampton (14-3), Seneca Valley (14-4), Bethel Park (14-2), Roman Catholic (13-5), La Salle College (13-4), Liberty (11-5), Parkland (14-4), Pocono Mountain West (14-2).

Class AAA
1. Neumann-Goretti (13-4)
2. Imhotep Charter (16-4)
3. Allentown Central Catholic (15-2)
4. Archbishop Carroll (13-4)
5. Beaver Area (15-1)
6. Chartiers Valley (16-1)
7. Susquehanna Twp (18-1)
8. Abington Heights (14-2)
9. Mars (13-3)
10. Berks Catholic (15-3)
Honorable mention
Donegal (19-0), Steelton-Highspire (15-2), Bishop McDevitt (11-6), Palmyra (14-5), Greencastle-Antrim (14-3), Gettysburg (15-5), Montour (13-4), Thomas Jefferson (12-5), Uniontown (13-2), West Mifflin (12-3), General McLane (11-4), Hickory (12-3), Girard (11-4), Wilson Area (17-1), Pottsville (13-4), Danville (12-2), Archbishop Wood (10-6), Philly Electrical (10-10), Glen Mills (11-6), Holy Ghost Prep (12-4).

Class AA
1. Beaver Falls (15-3)
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (16-1)
3. Jeannette (14-2)
4. Meyers (14-2)
5. Holy Cross (12-3)
6. Trinity (13-3)
7. Communications Tech (12-4)
8. West Middlesex (13-3)
9. Loyalsock (12-2)
10. Lewisburg (13-1)
Honroable mention
Seton-La Salle (15-2), Serra Catholic (12-3), Quaker Valley (12-4), Sto-Rox (9-7), Dunmore (9-5), Mid Valley (13-2), Riverside (10-5), Mercyhurst Prep (10-5), Lakeview (14-2), Bald Eagle Area (14-1), Bellwood- Antis (14-1), Penn Cambria (12-3), Constitution (11-8) , Freire Charter (13-7), Wellsboro (16-1).

Class A
1. Math, Civics & Sciences (19-0)
2. Vaux (13-6)
3. Lincoln Park (11-5)
4. Church Farm (11-5)
5. Johnsonburg (15-1)
6. Bishop Carroll (13-2)
7. Vincentian (15-1) 
8. Ridgway (13-3)
9. St. John Neumann (15-0)
10. Bishop Guilfoyle (12-2) 
Honorable mention
Greenwood (16-2), Lebanon Catholic (13-6), New Hope (15-2), North Catholic (11-4), Union Area (13-2), OLSH (14-3), Clairton (8-5), Wilkinsburg (8-7), Smethport (14-1), North Clarion (16-1), A-C Valley (14-2), Clarion (13-4), Mahanoy Area (14-3), Shenandoah Valley (13-5), Pius X (12-2), Marian Catholic (14-5), Lourdes (13-4), Sullivan County (16-1), Shade (14-1), Shanksville-Stonycreek (13-2), Kennedy Catholic (11-4), Delco Christian (12-5).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

T-D girls' basketball rankings

1. Berlin 12-2
Mountaineers have tough back-to-back road games at Conamaugh Valley and Shade this week.

2. Portage 15-1
Only time Mustangs allowed more than 50 points in a game this season was against Quad-A Greater Latrobe, and Portage won that game.

3. Forest Hills 13-3
Loss to Bishop Guilfoyle couple weeks ago must have angered the Rangers as they've blown out four straight opponents.

4. Westmont Hilltop 13-3
Hilltoppers' Erin Rodgers is one of area's top scorers, but she's also averaging 4.9 steals per game.

5.  Richland 12-4
The Rams are solid, but 15-ppint home loss to Bishop Guilfoyle proves Marauders' mettle.

6. Ligonier Valley 9-4
A convincing 13-point win over Conemaugh Township could be a jump start for Rams.

7. Conemaugh Valley 11-3
Tough to find fault in Blue Jay's loss to Portage.

8. Conemaugh Township 11-3
Indians rebound from loss to Ligonier Valley with win vs. North Star. Big game vs. Portage on Wednesday.

9. Bishop McCort 9-6
Crimson Crushers had five-game win streak snapped against Forest Hills.

10. Shade 12-3
The Panthers are on an eight-game win streak and freshman Emma Spinelli is averaging 19.2 points per game.

T-D boys' basketball rankings

Through its first five games, Northern Cambria was 3-2 and not looking like a team that returned a majority of key components from a team that won the 2011-12 District 6 Class A championship and qualified for the state playoffs.

There was a two-point loss to Blacklick Valley in the finals of the Rockwood Tournament. The Colts lost by three at Ligonier Valley and a two-point loss to rival Cambria Heights put Northern Cambria's record at 5-3.

The shaky start raised some eyebrows as expectation were high in Northern Cambria, even if the Colts moved up to Class AA this season.

Well, that 5-3 record has morphed into a 13-3 record. In District 6 Class AA, only Bald Eagle Area and Bellwood-Antis have better won-loss records.

Northern Cambria is coming off its most impressive performance – a 62-24 victory over Ligonier Valley in a game where senior guard Adam Polites reached 1,000 career points.

Polites is averaging 22.3 points per game for the Colts. Jeff Hogan (13.7 ppg) and Josh Bonatesta (12.7) add depth to the Colts' offense. With a 9-1 league record, Northern Cambria sits in first place in the Heritage Conference, a game ahead of Homer-Center and a game-and-a-half over Marion Center.

They're also holding steady as the No. 2 team in The Tribune-Democrat boys' basketball rankings.

1. Bishop Carroll 13-2
Huskies host Bishop Gulfoyle on Friday in matchup of top two teams in LHAC Section 1.

2. Northern Cambria 13-3
Colts on an eight-game win streak.

3. Penn Cambria 12-3
Panthers earned big win last week versus Bishop McCort

4. Conemaugh Township 11-2
Indians earned gritty win last week at Shanksville.

5. Greater Johnstown 10-5
Trojans face two tough games on road – Somerset, Richland – this week.

6. Somerset 11-5
Golden Eagles can force tie in LHAC Section 2 if they beat Greater Johnstown.

7. Bishop McCort 8-5
Crushers have lost three of five and dealt tough blow with Nemo Trexler injury.

8. Shade 14-1
Without Ryan Fyock, Panthers beat Blacklick Valley. Fyock may return before end of regular season.

9. Shanksville-Stonycreek 12-2
Three consecutive road games loom for Vikings.

10. Chestnut Ridge 12-2
Lions are unbeaten in the Sideling Hill Conference with a 7-0 record.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Students with disabilities must be given fair shot to play

Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Students with disabilities must be given a fair shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues, the Education Department says.
Disabled students who want to play for their school could join traditional teams if officials can make “reasonable modifications” to accommodate them. If those adjustments would fundamentally alter a sport or give the student an advantage, the department is directing the school to create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing to traditional programs.
This photo provided by Lisa Followay shows Casey Followay competing in the the USATF Junior Olympics in Maryland on July 28, 2012. Breaking new ground, the U.S. Education Department is telling schools Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, they must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options. The directive, reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for women, could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come. (Associated Press)
“Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the new guidance Friday.
The groundbreaking order is reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for girls and women four decades ago and could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.
Activists cheered the changes.
“This is a landmark moment for students with disabilities. This will do for students with disabilities what Title IX did for women,” said Terri Lakowski, who for a decade led a coalition pushing for the changes. “This is a huge victory.”
It’s not clear whether the new guidelines will spark a sudden uptick in sports participation. There was a big increase in female participation in sports after Title IX guidance instructed schools to treat female athletics on par with male teams. That led many schools to cut some men’s teams, arguing that it was necessary to be able to pay for women’s teams.
Education Department officials emphasized they did not intend to change sports traditions dramatically or guarantee students with disabilities a spot on competitive teams. Instead, they insisted schools may not exclude students based on their disabilities if they can keep up with their classmates.
Federal laws, including the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, require states to provide a free public education to all students and prohibit schools that receive federal money from discriminating against students with disabilities. Going further, the new directive from the Education Department’s civil rights division explicitly tells schools and colleges that access to interscholastic, intramural and intercollegiate athletics is a right.
The department suggests minor accommodations to incorporate students with disabilities onto sports teams. For instance, track and field officials could use a visual cue for a deaf runner to begin a race.
Some states already offer such programs. Maryland, for instance, passed a law in 2008 that required schools to create equal opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in physical education programs and play on traditional athletic teams. And Minnesota awards state titles for disabled student athletes in six sports.
Increasingly, those with disabilities are finding spots on their schools’ teams.
“I heard about some of the other people who joined their track teams in other states. I wanted to try to do that,” said Casey Followay, 15, of Wooster, Ohio, who competes on his high school track team in a racing wheelchair.
Current rules require Followay to race on his own, without competitors running alongside him. He said he hopes the Education Department guidance will change that and he can compete against runners.
“It’s going to give me the chance to compete against kids at my level,” he said.
Some cautioned that progress would come in fits and starts initially.
“Is it easy? No,” said Brad Hedrick, director of disability services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and himself a hall-of-famer in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. “In most places, you’re beginning from an inertial moment. But it is feasible and possible that a meaningful and viable programming can be created.”

WestPAC basketball standings

Boys standings
Team    Section    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Conemaugh Township    7    0    11    2
Ferndale    6    2    8    6
Blacklick Valley    5    2    11    4
Conemaugh Valley    4    3    5    8
Windber    3    4    5    10
Portage    1    7    5    10
North Star    0    8    0    14
Team    Section    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Shanksville Stonycreek    8    0    12    2
Shade    7    1    14    1
Berlin Brothersvalley    5    2    11    3
Rockwood    3    5    6    6
Turkeyfoot Valley    2    5    4    9
Meyersdale    2    6    3    11
Salisburg Elk Lick    0    8    1    14

Girls standings
Team    Section    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Portage    9    0    15    1
Conemaugh Township    6    2    11    3
Conemaugh Valley    6    2    11    3
Windber    5    4    8    8
Blacklick Valley    2    6    7    8
North Star    2    7    4    12
Ferndale    0    9    1    13
Team    Section    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Berlin Brothersvalley    6    0    11    2
Shade    7    2    12    3
Meyersdale    6    2    11    4
Rockwood    4    4    6    9
Shanksville Stonycreek    3    5    4    12
Turkeyfoot Valley    2    6    7    9
Salisbury Elk Lick    0    9    0    14

LHAC basketball standings

Laurel Highlands
Boys standings
Section 1
Team    Section    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L    W    L
Bishop Carroll    5    0    8    2    13    2
Bishop Guilfoyle    4    1    8    2    12    2
Penn Cambria    3    2    8    2    12    3
Cambria Heights    2    3    4    6    9    7
Central Cambria    1    4    3    8    5    12
Forest Hills    0    5    0    10    1    14
Section 2
Team    Section    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L    W    L
Greater Johnstown    4    1    8    2    10    5
Bishop McCort    4    1    7    3    8    5
Somerset    3    2    7    3    11    5
Richland    2    3    4    6    7    6
Westmont Hilltop    1    4    2    8    4    11
Bedford    1    4    2    9    3    12

Girls standings
Section 1
Team    Section    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L    W    L
Bishop Guilfoyle    5    0    10    0    14    1
Forest Hills    4    1    9    2    14    3
Penn Cambria    3    2    6    5    10    6
Central Cambria    2    3    3    6    5    8
Cambria Heights    1    4    3    8    5    11
Bishop Carroll    0    5    2    8    4    10
Section 2
Team    Section    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L    W    L
Westmont Hilltop    5    0    9    2    13    3
Bishop McCort    4    1    7    3    9    6
Richland    3    2    8    3    12    4
Greater Johnstown    2    3    4    6    4    11
Somerset    1    4    1    9    3    12
Bedford    0    5    0    10    0    15

Heritage Conference basketball standings

Heritage Conference
Boys basketball
Team    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Northern Cambria    9    1    13    3
Homer-Center    9    2    12    4
Marion Center    7    3    9    6
Ligonier Valley    6    4    8    6
Saltsburg    6    5    7    9
Blairsville    5    6    7    10
Purchase Line    2    6    3    10
Penns Manor    2    9    2    13
United    0    12    0    17

Girls basketball
Team    Conference    Overall
    W    L    W    L
Blairsville    10    0    15    1
Marion Center    9    1    11    4
Ligonier Valley    6    3    8    4
Penns Manor    5    4    9    5
United    5    5    8    7
Homer-Center    4    6    5    10
Saltsburg    2    7    3    10
Purchase Line    2    7    4    8
Northern Cambria    0    8    1    10

Three up, three down

Three up
Bishop Carroll boys basketball
The only thing that can stop the Huskies? Snow.
Bishop Carroll is 5-0 in LHAC Section 1 and owns wins over Johnstown and Penn Cambria the past week.

Northern Cambria boys basketball
The Colts got off to a slow start. Forget about that.
Northern Cambria looks a lot like the team that won the District 6 Class A title last year. Its coming off a thorough victory over Ligonier Valley, the last team to beat NC.

1,000-point scorers
There's been a rush of 1,000-point career scorers the last few weeks. Last night, Northern Cambria's Adam Polites hit the milestone. Up next, Portage junior Olivia McCabe is five points shy.

Three down
Mother Nature
The Tribune-Democrat sports staff had three games scheduled for Friday night – Bishop Carroll at Richland, Bishop Guilfoyle at Somerset and Penn Cambria at Greater Johnstown.
What could have been one of the best nights of the basketball season was wiped out.

Bedford basketball
The Bisons wrestling team is strong, but the basketball programs at Bedford are struggling. The boys and girls teams have combined for three victories.

Northern Cambria girls sports
Not too long ago, the Colts were a PIAA power in volleyball and basketball. Both programs have experienced uncharacteristically down seasons.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another look: Jeff Richardson

Greater Johnstown High School's Jeff Richardson played in two of football's most famous games.

As a lineman for Michigan State, which was coached by Northern Cambria's Duffy Daugherty at the time,  from 1964-66, Richardson played in what was dubbed "The Game of the Century" when Michigan State and Notre Dame met in 1966.

Johnstown's Jeff Richardson
The Spartans were 9-0, the defending national champions and ranked second in the country.

The Fighting Irish were 8-0 and ranked first.

The game was played at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 19 and ended in a controversial 10-10 tie. Both teams claimed national championships in different polls.

Richardson went from the Spartans. where he was an All-American defensive lineman, to the NFL, where he played with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins in the late 1960s.

The Jets were led by another western Pennsylvania product in Joe Namath, who is from Beaver Falls.

And Richardson was with the Jets when Namath boldly predicted that the upstart franchise from the oft-maligned American Football League defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

Richardson played football at Johnstown for coach Blackie Mihalic and had scholarship offers from just about everywhere. His final three choices were Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue.

Richardson also wrestled at Johnstown and he compiled a 52-3 record with one state championship and one runner-up finish.

He continued the sport at Michigan State. There, he was part of a national championship team, a Big Ten champion and an All-American.

Richardson was inducted into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coaching search update

Conemaugh Valley, Ferndale and Penn Cambria are searching for football coaches, and at least one school may be close to making a hire.

Penn Cambria will likely stamp its coaching hire at the Feb. 19 meeting. Tony Tomaselli is in the running and could be the front runner. Tomaselli replaced Ernie Fetzer on an interim basis after Fetzer resigned with two games remaining in the regular season. Tomaselli was an assistant on Fetzer's staff, a former head coach at Penn Cambria and a teacher in the school district.

Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler's name has also come up. Wheeler teaches Penn Cambria and also is a former assistant there, so it's logical his name surfaced though his interest in the opening may not be strong as some hope. Wheeler headed a remarkable turnaround at BG this season.

Conemaugh Valley athletic director Paula McCleester told T-D sports writer Mike Mastovich that interviews there will begin Monday (Jan. 28).

No candidates for the position have been confirmed, though former CV coach Tom Marshall and Windber athletic director Ralph DeMarco have been mentioned by sources.

Patriot-News boys' basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chester (12-3)
2. Lower Merion (14-2)
3. Harrisburg (14-1)
4. McCaskey (14-2)
5. New Castle (15-0)
6. St. Joseph’s Prep (12-3)
7. Cathedral Prep (13-2)
8. Williamsport (13-2)
9. North Allegheny (13-1)
10. York (14-2)
Honorable mention
Abington (11-4), Council Rock North (13-2), Norristown (12-3), Penn Wood (9-4), Pennsbury (11-3), Ridley (13-2), Great Valley (15-0), Hatboro-Horsham (13-2), Gateway (10-2), Hampton (12-3), Seneca Valley (12-3), Bethel Park (14-1), Roman Catholic (11-4), La Salle College (12-4), Martin Luther King (15-0), State College (12-3), Parkland (13-3) , Pocono Mountain West (12-2).

Class AAA
1. Imhotep Charter (14-3)
2. Neumann-Goretti (11-4)
3. Allentown Central Catholic (13-2)
4. Mars (13-2)
5. Archbishop Carroll (12-3)
6. Beaver Area (13-1)
7. Chartiers Valley (13-1)
8. Susquehanna Twp (16-1)
9. Abington Heights (11-2)
10. Berks Catholic (14-3)
Honorable mention
Bishop McDevitt (10-5), Donegal (17-0), Greencastle-Antrim (12-3), Palmyra (11-5) Steel-High (13-2), Gettysburg (14-4), Montour (10-4), Thomas Jefferson (10-4), Uniontown (12-2),West Mifflin (11-3), Central Valley (12-4), General McLane (10-3), Hickory (10-2), Girard (10-3), Wilson Area (15-1), Pottsville (11-4), Holy Ghost Prep (11-3), Glen Mills (10-4) , Philadelphia Electrical (9-8), Archbishop Wood (8-5), Danville (10-2).

Class AA
1. Meyers (12-1)
2. Beaver Falls (12-3)
3. Greensburg Central Catholic (15-1)
4. Jeannette (13-2)
5. Holy Cross (10-3)
6. Trinity (11-3)
7. Communications Tech (9-4)
8. West Middlesex (11-3)
9. Loyalsock (10-2)
10. Lewisburg (11-1)
Honorable mention
Dunmore (8-5), Mid Valley (12-2), Riverside (10-4), Seton-La Salle (13-2), Sto-Rox (8-5), Quaker Valley (12-3), Serra Catholic (12-2), Lakeview (12-2), Mercyhurst Prep (9-5), Bald Eagle Area (12-1, Bishop McCort (8-4), Wellsboro (14-1), Constitution (9-7), Del-Val Charter (7-8) and Freire Charter (11-5).

Class A
1. Math, Civics & Sciences (15-0)
2. Vaux (10-5)
3. Lincoln Park (10-4)
4. Church Farm (10-4)
5. Johnsonburg (13-1)
6. Bishop Carroll (11-2)
7. Vincentian (14-1)
8. Ridgway (11-3)
9. St. John Neumann (12-0)
10. Bishop Guilfoyle (11-2)
Honorable mention
Shade (12-1), Shanksville-Stonycreek (11-1), North Catholic (10-4), Union Area (13-2), OLSH (11-3), Clairton (8-3), Smethport (12-1), North Clarion (13-1), A-C Valley (12-2), Elk County Catholic (10-3), Clarion (11-3), Mahanoy Area (12-3), Marian Catholic (13-3), Pius X (12-2), Shenandoah Valley (11-4), Lourdes Regional (11-4), Sullivan County (14-1), Muncy (8-3), Greenwood (15-2), Lebanon Catholic (12-4), New Hope Academy (12-2), Kennedy Catholic (8-3), Old Forge (9-5), Delco Christian (10-4).

Monday, January 21, 2013

T-D girls' basketball rankings

1. Berlin 11-2
The Mountaineers had a rare off week. No game played.

2. Portage 13-1
Tuesday's game against Conemaugh Valley should be a sturdy test.

3. Forest Hills 11-3
If Rangers can beat Bishop Guilfoyle at home, they should run the table.

4. Westmont Hilltop 11-3
The Hilltoppers were the latest area team to lose to Tussey Mountain.

5. Richland 11-3
The Rams are finally getting healthy again.

6. Conemaugh Valley 11-2
The Blue Jays haven't lost since Dec. 17.

7. Conemaugh Township 10-2
Indians are averaging 13.3 steals per game.

8. Bishop McCort 8-5
The only newcomer to the rankings, the Crimson Crushers are 5-1 and in first place in LHAC Section 1.

9. Penn Cambria 8-5
The Panthers have quietly pieced together a four-game win streak.

10. Ligonier Valley 8-4
The Rams are struggling to score points. A healthier team may be the remedy.

T-D boys' basketball rankings

The hottest team in The Tribune-Democrat coverage area? It's the Bishop Carroll boys.


* The Huskies have won eight consecutive games and ascended to the top of the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference Section 1 standings.

* During that span, Bishop Carroll won at Bishop Guilfoyle by 24, at Penn Cambria by 11, at Vincentian Academy by two on a Saturday and at Cambria Heights by 23.

* Even the Huskies' most recent loss was impressive. Bishop Carroll took Bishop McCort to overtime at McCort before losing by three points.

* Sophomore Brandon Martinazzi is emerging as a big-game player and Marcus Lee is a force inside.

After a game tonight against North Star, Bishop Carroll faces two tough tests - home against Greater Johhnstown on Wednesday and at Richland on Friday.

For now, the Huskies have accomplished more than enough to replace Shade atop The Tribune-Democrat boys basketball rankings.

1. Bishop Carroll 11-2
Huskies haven't lost since Dec. 22 or to any Class A team.

2. Northern Cambria 11-3
Colts living up to preseason billing. Big home game versus Ligonier Valley on Thursday.

3. Bishop McCort 8-4
The Crimson Crushers show moxie late against Trojans, but stumbled early in week against Richland.

4. Greater Johnstown 9-4
Roshon Fields and Phil Madison playing well in the big games.

5. Penn Cambria 10-3
A.J. Leahey is as talented as any player around. UPJ has to be happy about that.

6. Shanksville-Stonycreek 11-1
Vikings' Carter Slade hits buzzer-beater at Shade. Three tough games this week.

7. Conemaugh Township 10-2
Indians haven't played a close game in more than a month.

8. Shade 12-1
Panthers lost at buzzer to Shanksville minus leading scorer Ryan Fyock.

9. Somerset 10-5
Jake Close found his scoring touch and Eagles scored big win versus Richland.

10. Richland 7-4
Bishop McCort win proves Rams capable of beating any area team.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cleaning out the notebook: Greater Johnstown's tough schedule pays off

Two of the year's better matchups in boys' basketball take place tonight when Greater Johnstown plays at Bishop McCort and Bishop Carroll travels to Penn Cambria.

It's no stretch to say that these four teams are the best the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference has to offer.

Despite an undersized roster, Greater Johnstown takes a 9-3 record and a 3-0 mark in section play to McCort. Since a 47-point loss to Class AAA power Susquehanna Township on Dec. 27 in Harrisburg, the Trojans have won five consecutive games. Among those wins includes a victory over Annville-Cleona, a former PIAA champion, Somerset and Altoona.

Maybe part of the reason for the improved play is because of games like the loss to Susquehanna Township.

Greater Johnstown has taken on all comers with an ambitious nonconference schedule. The Trojans also played a pair of WPIAL Class AAAA teams in perennial power Mt. Lebanon and Kiski Area.

"We had three new guys (against Mt. Lebanon) and I think they were shocked by the intensity," Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh said. "Since then, we've come out and played hard, played aggressive. Playing those two huge quad-A schools was good for us.We learned if we can play hard, we can beat these teams."

Teams like Altoona, which lost at home to the Trojans by 15 points.

"We can surprise some people if we play tough defense," Cobaugh said. "These tournaments were a great tool. They gave us something to build around."

* Things haven't been easy for the Ligonier Valley girls basketball team since Maddie Grimm left the lineup with an ankle injury, but the guess here is the Rams will make noise this postseason.
With Grimm, a versatile 5-8 player who has signed to play softball at Kent State, the Rams have an athletic shot-blocking, rebounding presence capable of running the point as well.
Postseason play is matchup predicated. Grimm is a matchup nightmare, and she'll open things up offensively for Kyra Ludwig and Taylor Rudnik.

* The area's most heavily recruited student-athlete? You might be surprised to find out it's not a football or basketball player or even a wrestler. There's a good chance it's Deanna Binnie, the top shooter on the Conemaugh Township rifle team.
Binnie has narrowed her scope to three finalists - Ohio State, Texas Christian (TCU) and Mississippi.
Imagine an area football player with those three as finalists.
Binnie has already qualified for the Junior Olympics, which take place in April in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Eventually, she'd like to qualify for the Olympics.
"That is the goal, to try and get there," said Binnie, who holds or shares 12 national records and competed at a prestigious competition last summer in Fort Benning, Ga. "(At Fort Benning), I was shooting with girls who were shooting in the last Olympics."

* Bishop Carroll boys' basketball made a significant over its recent stretch of schedule.
Since a 67-64 overtime loss to Bishop McCort on Dec. 22, the Huskies have reeled off seven consecutive victories and are 10-2 overall, 4-1 in LHAC Section 1.
In a six-day span (Jan. 7-12), Bishop Carroll put together a run as impressive as any team has put together this season.
It started 24-point mashing of Bishop Guilfoyle on the Marauders' home court, followed by a 23-point win over a solid Cambria Heights team and an 83-81 last Saturday at previously unbeaten Vincentian Academy.
The win streak has catapulted Bishop Carroll to the sixth spot in the Patriot-News Class A state rankings.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Patriot-News boys basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chester (9-3)
2. Lower Merion (12-1)
3. St. Joseph’s Prep (10-2)
4. Harrisburg (12-1)
5. McCaskey (12-2)
6. New Castle (13-0)
7. Cathedral Prep (11-1)
8. Abington (10-2)
9. Williamsport (11-2)
10. Parkland (11-1)
Honorable mention
York (11-2), Council Rock North (11-1), Norristown (9-3), Penn Wood (8-2), Pennsbury (8-3), Ridley (12-1),  Pocono Mountain West (9-2), Gateway (9-1), North Allegheny (11-1), Hampton (11-2), Seneca Valley (9-3), State College (10-3), La Salle College (8-4), Roman Catholic outfit (9-4), Martin Luther King (13-0).

Class AAA
1. Imhotep Charter (11-3)
2. Neumann-Goretti (8-4)
3. Allentown Central Catholic (11-2)
4. Mars (11-2)
5. Beaver Area (12-0)
6. Chartiers Valley (11-1)
7. Archbishop Carroll (9-3)
8. Susquehanna Twp (14-1)
9. Abington Heights (9-2)
10. Berks Catholic (11-3)
Honorable mention
Bishop McDevitt (9-4), Donegal (14-0), Palmyra (10-5),  Greencastle-Antrim (11-2), Steel-High (11-2), South Fayette (11-2) Thomas Jefferson (9-3), Glen Mills (7-4), Holy Ghost Prep (8-3), General McLane (8-3), Hickory (8-2), Meadville (9-2), Wilson Area (13-1), Philly Electrical (8-7), Archbishop Wood (8-4).

Class AA
1. Meyers (10-1)
2. Beaver Falls (10-3)
3. Jeannette (12-1).
4. Greensburg Central Catholic (13-1)
5. Holy Cross (8-3)
6. Trinity (9-3)
7. Communications Tech (8-3)
8. West Middlesex (8-3)
9. Loyalsock (8-2)
10. Lewisburg (10-0)
Honorable mention
Constitution (8-5), Del-Val Charter (6-7), Freire Charter (9-5), Dunmore (7-4), Mid Valley (10-2), Riverside (9-3), Delone Catholic (8-4), Wellsboro (13-1), Bald Eagle Area (11-0), Bishop McCort (7-3), Mercyhurst Prep (7-5), Lakeview (10-2), Quaker Valley (10-3), Washington (11-2), Seton-La Salle (11-2), Serra Catholic (10-2).

Class A
1. Math, Civics & Sciences (12-0)
2. Vaux (7-5)
3. Lincoln Park (8-4)
4. Church Farm (9-4)
5. Johnsonburg (10-1)
6. Bishop Carroll (9-2)
7. Vincentian (11-1)
8. Ridgway (11-2)
9. Shade (10-0)
10. St. John Neumann (10-0)
Honorable mention
North Catholic (8-4), Sullivan (11-1), Muncy (7-2), Lourdes (9-3), Mahanoy Area (10-3), Marian Catholic (10-3), Pius X (10-2), Shenandoah Valley (9-3), Bishop Guilfoyle (7-2), Shanksville-Stonycreek (9-1), Kennedy Catholic (6-3), Greenwood (12-2), Lebanon Catholic (11-3), New Hope Academy (8-2), Smethport (10-1), North Clarion (11-1), A-C Valley (11-1), Elk County Catholic (8-3),  Old Forge (8-4), Delco Christian (8-3)

Te'o's story not the first phony tale

The bizarre saga involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and a fabricated girlfriend/relationship brought back memories of another odd made-up story.

This one involved Kevin Hart. No, not the famous comedian but a run-of-the-mill high school football player from Nevada. Hart staged a fake press conference, where he selected Cal over Oregon in front of his schoolmates.

His story quickly unfolded from there.

For an outstanding read on the story from ESPN in 2008, click here and check out the video below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

T-D girls' basketball rankings

This far into the girls basketball season, we know ... is anyone quite sure what we know yet?

Think we know that Richland is good when healthy. Think we know that Ligonier Valley needs Maddie Grimm back. Think we know that Forest Hills is solid. Think we know Westmont Hilltop is capable of beating any team in the region, especially with Jodi Hillegass as coach.

Think we know that Berlin and Portage are solid in Class A, and that Meyersdale is a team to watch.

Other than that, who knows?

1. Berlin 11-2
Twenty-point win at Meyersdale solidifies Mountaineers as team to beat in WestPAC South.

2. Portage 11-1
Dynamic duo of Emily Chobany and Olivia McCabe have the Mustangs thinking big.

3. Forest Hills 10-3
Loss at Bishop Guilfoyle proves Marauders remain team to beat in the LHAC.

4. Westmont Hilltop 10-2
Behind 1,000-point scorer Erin Rodgers, Hilltoppers have won eight of nine.

5. Ligonier Valley 7-3
The Rams are talented, but blowout loss to Blairsville was an eye-raiser, despite Grimm's absence.

6. Richland 10-3
A double overtime loss at Bishop McCort Monday is the Rams' second-straight setback.

7. Conemaugh Valley 9-2
The Blue Jays' only losses are to Portage and Richland.

8. Conemaugh Township 9-2
Portage and CV are the only teams to knock the Indians. Both losses were by four points.

9. Penn Cambria 6-5
Tori Shingler's return from injury has Panthers pointed in right direction.

10. Meyersdale 8-3
Red Raiders were 8-1 before losses to Portage and Berlin.

T-D boys' basketball rankings

There were a pair of impressive, eye-opening victories the past week.

The first happened on Saturday as Bishop Carroll traveled to unbeaten Vincentian Academy, which is located a couple miles north of Ross Park Mall, and defeated the Royals, 81-81. Vincentian was a top-10 team in PIAA Class A according to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Credit Bishop Carroll for playing with focus following a long Saturday road trip.

On Monday night, Greater Johnstown traveled to Altoona for a clash of old-school rivals. The Mountain Lions were coming off a win over State College, but the undaunted Trojans put together a strong third quarter and got another standout performance from Philip Madison en route to a confidence-building 60-45 win.

With the postseason coming into view, both victories are good signs for the Huskies and Trojans.

1. Shade 11-0
Panthers face difficult home game tonight vs. one-loss Shanksville-Stonycreek.

2. Greater Johnstown 8-3
Difficult nonconference schedule starting to pay off in win column.

3. Bishop Carroll 9-2
Face another difficult test Friday at Penn Cambria.

4. Penn Camrbia 9-2
After back-to-back one-point losses, Panthers have blown out three consecutive opponents.

5. Bishop McCort 8-3
Crimson Crushers are as talented as any team around.

6. Northern Cambria 10-3
Five-game win streak has put shaky start in the past.

7. Shanksville-Stonycreek 9-1
Tiny Shanksville's lone loss is to Class AAA Somerset.

8. Cambria Heights 8-4
Two trips to Ebensburg resulted in a split, including a 23-point loss to Bishop Carroll.

9. Conemaugh Township 7-2
The Indians must take offense to giving up points judging by their scores.
10. Somerset 7-5
The Golden Eagles can hang with any team as long as the 3-pointers are falling.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Big 33 PA roster

Pennsylvania Big 33 roster
Tight End
Nick Arcidiacono Archbishop Wood 6'4" 235
Running Back
Forrest Barnes Seneca Valley 5'11 190
Inside Linebacker
Alex Beasley Woodland Hills High School 6'0" 230
Wide Receiver
Tyler Boyd Clairton 6'1" 180
Outside Linebacker
Chris Britton Harrisburg 6'2" 205
Defensive Line
Brian Carter Harrisburg 6'3" 280
Defensive Back
Marquis Edwards George Washington High School 5'10" 190
Outside Linebacker
Matt Galambos The Haverford School 6'2" 228
Offensive Line
Evan Galimberti State College High School 6'5" 250
Defensive Back
Najee Goode Imhotep Charter High 5'10" 170
Offensive Line
George Griffin Archbishop Wood 6'4" 285
Wide Receiver
James Jay"" Harris Downingtown East 6'0" 175
Defensive Back
Titus Howard Clairton 6'3" 175
Outside Linebacker
Zayd Issah Central Dauphin High School 6'4" 210
Defensive Back
Todd Jeter Gateway High School 6'1" 178
Offensive Line
Dorian Johnson Belle Vernon Area High School 6'6" 285
Defensive Line
Jaryd Jones-Smith West Catholic 6'7" 321
Defensive End
Eric Joraskie Mt. Carmel Area High School- 6'4" 265
Defensive End
Junior Joseph Wilson High School 6'2" 235
Inside Linebacker
Jaylin Kelly Washington 6'2" 235
Offensive Line
Brody Kern West York Area High School 6'2" 275
Offensive Line
Dean Ketterer Seneca Valley 6'4" 255
Mack Leftwich North Allegheny 5'11" 190
Wide Receiver
Brian Lemelle Bishop McDevitt HS 5'11" 175
Defensive End
Marcus Martin West Mifflin 6'2" 225
Offensive Line
David (Andrew) Nelson Hershey 6'5" 280
Wide Receiver
Karlon Quiller Scranton high 6'0" 185
Defensive Back
Aaron Swinton J.P. McCaskey High School 5'9" 170
Damion Terry Cathedral Prep 6'4" 225
Strong Safety
Delton Williams Cathedral Prep 6'2" 225
Tight End
 Simon Patrick Williams Abington Heights High School 6'3" 235
Running Back
David Williams Imhotep Charter High 6'1" 205
Ryan Winslow LaSalle College High School 6'5" 205
Offensive Line
Elijah Wlikinson Downingtown West 6'6" 325

Head: Art Walker North Alleghany
Asst: Mark Lyons Central Valley
Rob Melosky Nazareth
John Manion Lampeter-Strasburg
Jim Wehner Baldwin
Gorge Howanitz Valley View

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Patriot-News boys' basketball rankings

Class AAAA
1. Chester (7-2)
2. Lower Merion (9-1)
3. St. Joseph’s Prep (8-2)
4. Harrisburg (10-1)
5. McCaskey (9-2) .
6. New Castle (10-0)
7. Cathedral Prep (9-1)
8. North Allegheny (10-0)
9. Hampton (10-0)
10. Williamsport (9-2)
York (8-2), Abington (8-2), Bensalem (7-2), Council Rock North (8-1), Norristown (8-2), Penn Wood (7-1), Bethlehem Liberty (6-2), Easton (6-3), Parkland (8-1), Pocono Mountain West (7-1), Gateway (7-1), State College (8-2), La Salle College (7-3), Roman Catholic (7-4), Martin Luther King (10-0).

Class AAA
1. Neumann-Goretti (7-3)
2. Imhotep Charter (7-3)
3. Chartiers Valley (8-0)
4. Archbishop Carroll (8-2)
5. Abington Heights (7-1)
6. Mars (9-2)
7. Allentown Central Catholic (8-2)
8. Beaver Area (10-0)
9. Archbishop Wood (7-3)
10. Susquehanna Twp (10-1)
Berks Catholic (6-3), Bishop McDevitt (8-3), Donegal (11-0), Palmyra (9-3), General McLane (6-2), Hickory (6-2), Warren (6-1), Meadville (8-2), Montour (7-2), South Fayette (7-2), West Mifflin (8-2), Wilson Area (10-1), Holy Ghost Prep (7-2, Philly Electrical (6-5).

Class AA
1. Meyers (8-1)]
2. Trinity (8-2)
3. Beaver Falls (8-2)
4. Communications Tech (6-2)
5. Holy Cross (6-3)
6. Constitution (8-3)
7. Jeannette (10-1)
8. Greensburg Central Catholic (10-1)
9. West Middlesex (5-3)
10. Loyalsock (7-1)
Bishop McCort (5-2), Mercyhurst Prep (5-5) , Sto-Rox (5-4), Delone Catholic Squires (6-4), Lakeview (9-1), Seton-La Salle (9-2), Lewisburg (8-0), Serra Catholic (9-1), Del-Val Charter (5-3), Dunmore (6-3).

Class A
1. Math, Civics & Sciences (10-0)
2. Vaux (4-5)
3. Church Farm (7-3)
4. Lincoln Park (5-4)
5. Johnsonburg (8-1)
6. North Catholic (7-2)
7. Vincentian (9-0)
8. Ridgway (9-2)
9. Shade (10-0)
10. Sullivan County (9-0)
Old Forge (8-2), Kennedy Catholic (4-3), Shanksville-Stonycreek (7-1), Greenwood (9-2), Lebanon Catholic (9-2), New Hope Academy (7-2), St. John Neumann (8-0), Lourdes Regional (8-2), Bishop Carroll (6-2), Bishop Guilfoyle (5-1), Clairton (3-1), Our Lady of Sacred Heart (9-1), Union (9-1), Elk County Catholic (6-3), North Clarion (8-1), Smethport (8-1), Mahanoy Area (8-3), Marian Catholic (8-2), Pius X (8-2), Shenandoah Valley (6-3).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The season's first Tribune-Democrat basketball rankings

Other work commitments have kept The Varsity Club on the quiet side in recent weeks, and there were even thoughts of keeping the blog dedicated to high school football. But we're going to crank things up for the rest of the winter sports season and see how things go.

T-D sports staffer Shawn Curtis suggested The Varsity Club offer the area's first intergender basketball rankings. Interesting idea (kind of), but we'll keep things separate ... at least for now.

Since most teams are at or nearing the halfway mark of the regular season, seems like a good time to do some local basketball rankings.

1. Shade 10-0
2. Bishop McCort 6-2
3. Greater Johnstown 6-3
4. Penn Cambria 7-2
5. Somerset 7-4
6. Bishop Carroll 7-2
7. Cambria Heights 7-3
8. Northern Cambria 7-3
9. Richland 4-1
10. Conemaugh Township 6-2

1. Richland 9-1
2. Forest Hills 8-2
3. Berlin 8-2
4. Portage 9-1
5. Ligonier Valley 7-2
6. Westmobt Hilltop 7-2
7. Conemaugh Valley 7-2
8. Meyersdale 7-1
9. United 7-4
10. Conemaugh Township 7-2

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ohio school in football rape case adds guards

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP)  – A school district added unarmed security guards to its buildings Tuesday amid increased attention over two high school football players who are facing rape charges.
Mike McVey, the superintendent of Steubenville City Schools, said a guard will remain outside each of the district’s four buildings until further notice. McVey told The Associated Press in an interview that the move was made “to improve the safety of our students.”
Two 16-year-old boys are set for trial next month in juvenile court in Steubenville, a city of about 18,000 in eastern Ohio, on charges they raped a 16-year-old girl in August. Attorneys for defendants Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays have denied the charges in court.
McVey said the decision to add guards to the school buildings came Monday, before the district was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning because of a possible threat. Teachers stopped instruction and locked their classroom doors for about 1  1/2 hours while police determined the threat wasn’t viable.
According to a police report, a student described seeing a Facebook post indicating a potential threat, but the post couldn’t be retrieved. The post referenced people not charged in the rape case and directed them to come to a certain location, or “I am going to start killing people,” the report said.
McVey said instruction resumed after the district was given the all-clear at 9:46 a.m. Some parents chose to take their children home for the remainder of the day, he said.
The district serves about 2,450 students. McVey wouldn’t say how many students went home.
A Jefferson Security Services pickup truck periodically circled the high school Tuesday afternoon.
Social media and the Internet are playing a crucial role in the case. Hackers last week released a video, more than 12 minutes long, which purportedly shows one young man joking about the accuser following the alleged rape. The hackers who released the video allege more people were involved and should be held accountable. On Monday, an attorney said the young man regretted the comments, made when he was intoxicated.
An attorney for the girl’s family has said online commentary about the case had made the situation more difficult.
McVey declined to comment on the heightened attention his school district has received.  He also said he wasn’t prepared to comment on the decision to have unarmed security at the school instead of armed guards.
The defendants, Richmond and Mays, are on house arrest and attend an alternative school during the day inside the county justice center across a busy highway from the downtown high school.
The boys’ attorneys say they might try to have the case moved and keep it closed to the public to protect potential witnesses who they say have been threatened and pressured not to testify.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Huskies win County Seat Tournament

County Commissioner Thomas C. Chernisky and Central Cambria Athletic Director Ron Stempka distributed awards with former CC standout and current Penn State student Shane McGregor. Brandon Martinazzi was named tournament MVP and Scott Ranck was named to the all-tournament team. From left to right are: Chernisky, Stempka, Ranck, Martinazzi, and McGregor.
Bishop Carroll celebrates the County Seat championship win.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

APB, Where are they now? Brian Mangiafico

In the storied history of Greater Johnstown football, Brian Mangiafico stands out as one of the greats to play the quarterback position.

Mangiafico, dubbed "The Magic Man" guided the Trojans offense in the early 1990s and enjoyed a record-setting and heralded varsity career. He completed 268 passes for a school-record 4,030 yards, which was later surpassed by Gervon Simon. As a senior, he even led Johnstown in rushing with 835 yards. Keep in mind, at the time, quarterbacks weren't asked to run frequently and Mangiafico's rushing numbers are a testament to his athleticism.

How good was Mangiafico? Well, he earned Associated Press Big School (Class AAAA-AAA) Player of the Year honors in 1991 and was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fab 22 - one of only two players in Johnstown history to earn that distinction. The reason being Johnstown competed in the WPIAL at the time of Mangiafico's career. He was also the Point Stadium Award Winner in 1991.

Coached by Jerry Davitch, Greater Johnstown reached the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals in 1991 before a 45-7 loss to Hopewell ended the Trojans' season. Mangiafico was intercepted four times in the game, but Hopewell also rushed for 315 yards.

Mangiafico was so good, he fielded Division I offers from everywhere and was a USC recruit. Mangiafico ended up at Saddleback College.

The Varsity Club has issued an All Points Bulletin for Mangiafico. Anyone knowing Mangiafico's is urged to contact The Varsity Club.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Area well represented on PFN All-State teams

The Pennsylvania Football news released its comprehensive All-State teams on Tuesday, and the area is well-represented, particularly in Class AA.

If you want to read the entire list of players, click here.

Locally, many of the players – Richland's Tanner Solarczyk, Berlin' Drew Glotflety and Penn Cambria Mack Behe – one would expect to be recognized were. There were a few surprises, too.

Greater Johnstown's Dalvin Williams was the lone local representative on the Class AAA team. He earned second-team honors at linebacker after he finished the regular season with 149 tackles. Williams was a first-team selection to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers' All-State team and had 10 or more tackles in all 10 of the Trojans' games.

Richland's Kyle Flick
Solarczyk, selected Tribune-Democrat Offensive Player of the Year, was a first-team running back in Class AA and was joined on the first team by Rams receiver Kyle Flick. Richland also placed quarterback Matt Shaffer on the second team along with lineman Josh Dininny. Receiver Luke Shertzer was the fifth Richland player selected as he made third team offense.

Ligonier Valley placed two on the Class AA offense. Lineman Micah Tennant, who will play at Lehigh, was a second-team selection and Ryan Torrance made third team at running back.

Forest Hills receiver Jared Shope, who spent time at quarterback this season because of an injury to Rangers starter Joe Donoughe, was a third-team selection.

Ligonier Valley's Stuart Urch
Behe made the PA Sports Writers All-State team at linebacker as a junior and a senior, so it's no surprise that the disruptive force from Penn Cambria earned a first-team spot in Class AA. He's joined at linebacker by Ligonier's Stuart Urch, who had 20 sacks.

Central Cambria defensive lineman  Tyler Gironda was a third-team selection in Class AA.

Two area talents landed on the Class A second team offense in Bishop McCort kicker Jordan Spangler and Berlin's Drew Glotfelty. Spangler kicked nine field goals in addition to being one of the area's premier pass catchers. Glotfelty, along with Solarczyk, rushed for 2,000 yards.

Berlin offensive lineman Levi Bowser was a third-team selection along with Shade running back Brock Medva.

Luke DiFrancesco, another of Bishop McCort's talented receivers, earned second-team honors at defensive back. He was joined by emerging defensive lineman Stew Trulick of Berlin and Norther Cambria linebacker Alex Atkins – Tribune-Democrat Defensive Player of the Year. Atkins finished the season with 160 tackles.

Windber placed three players on the third team in receiver Matt Barkley, punter Dustin Blough and defensive back Devon Tomlinson. North Star's Brantley Rice was also a third-team pick at defensive back.