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.


  1. give us a sense of the LHAC sections

  2. Do you mean standings? Or how the section races are shaping up?