Staff Writer

Luke Campbell has been handling a multitude of tasks since joining the Observer-Reporter in 2015, following his graduation from Waynesburg University. He graduated from Waynesburg with a bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting and information.


Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

West Greene’s McKenna Lampe goes to the hoop as California’s Camari Walden, left, and Makayla Boda try to block the shot at West Greene High School Dec. 17.

There have been some exceptions over the past few years, but the postseason success in local boys and girls high school basketball has been one sided.

Outside of Monessen, bringing hope and joy of winning WPIAL titles have been the girls’ responsibilities.

Peters Township, Chartiers-Houston and West Greene played for championships last year. The Bucs won the WPIAL title two years ago. Before that, Trinity and South Fayette were putting together playoff runs and playing at the Petersen Events Center.

From the first three weeks of this season, it could be shaping up that way again.

Here are five local teams that should feel good about their starts entering the mini holiday break:

1.Peters Township girls – There might not be a team that has been more dominant in the WPIAL – boys or girls – than the Indians.

Through six games this season, Peters Township has won each by at least 20 points. Its average margin of victory is 31.5 points, and five of those six opponents made the postseason last year.

The best gift the Indians could give head coach Bert Kendall is a continuation of the balanced scoring they’ve shown thus far. In their six games, at least three players have reached double figures four times. Makenna Marisa, an Observer-Reporter First-Team All-District selection and Penn State recruit, started where she left off last season, averaging 21.8 points per game.

It’s not as though Peters Township is playing a bunch of softees, either. Five of the teams were playoff-bound last year.

Could the Indians be on another collision course with North Allegheny for a rematch of the WPIAL Class 6A championship? If so, early signs point to Peters Township being better equipped for a deep playoff run. The additions of junior forward Mackenzie Lehman (5-11) and freshman center Journey Thompson (6-1) help drastically on the glass, a weakness in last year’s title game when North Allegheny more than doubled PT in rebounds. Thompson is pulling down 7.2 rebounds per game, and Lehman is right behind at 6.7.

2. Washington girls – “The High is ready to roll.”

Boy, or should I say girl, is it ever.

The biggest strength, at least early on, of the Prexies is their defense. They have held two teams – Jefferson-Morgan and Beth-Center – scoreless throughout an entire quarter, limited Monessen to a one-point quarter and prevented California from scoring double-digits in any of the four quarters in their season-opening tournament. Granted, these teams aren’t setting the scoreboard on fire, but it’s still impressive.

Maybe the most important stat is what those low quarter totals are leading to. Washington (6-0) has held five of its first six opponents under 45 points.

Do not be fooled, the Prexies can score points, too.

Carley Allen continues to be the catalyst at point guard, averaging 16.8 points per game and recently eclipsing the 1,000-point mark in a game against Beth-Center. Randi Thomas and Torri Finley also provide supplemental scoring.

Could trouble be lurking to start 2019? Four of the first five teams the Prexies open the new year with have records over .500, including West Greene, which they will see in a home game Jan. 8.

3. Trinity girls – If you were to ask Trinity coach Bob Miles if he thought the Hillers would find themselves at the top of the section at Christmas, he might have given you a crazy look.

Yet, in one of the most difficult sections in the WPIAL, they are at No. 1, looking down at everyone else.

Trinity (4-2) made this list because of its last three games. It has knocked off a pair of previously undefeated teams in West Allegheny and South Fayette and rolled to a win over Montour. If you add the Hillers’ other victory, Our Lady of Sacred Heart, they’ve only surrendered 34.5 points in those games. None of the six opponents they’ve played to this point has a losing record.

The scary part about the Hillers’ start is that Riley DeRubbo has not been a part of it still recovering from injury. Infuse a top-three player in the area on a team that can defend and has been forced to develop a scoring touch, yikes!

The Hillers will be tested in the Penn Hills tournament later this week by playing North Catholic and North Allegheny, but that will be another two games under the Hillers’ belt for what will be a slugfest down the stretch in a section that includes Chartiers Valley, West Allegheny, Thomas Jefferson and South Fayette.

4. West Greene girls – After being the first Greene County girls basketball team to play for a WPIAL championship last year, West Greene (7-1) is off and running to begin this season.

The Pioneers are the highest scoring team in Class A and top 10 among all classifications in scoring (66.5 points per game). If it’s not the Lampe twins, they can find scoring from other players, including Kaitlyn Rizor and Elizabeth Brudnock.

West Greene head coach Jordan Watson has continued to try and strengthen the schedule in hopes for deeper playoff runs. The Pioneers have already played a pair of one-loss Class 4A teams in Freeport and Southmoreland and defending West Virginia state champion Wheeling Central Catholic. They are 2-1 in those games.

The regular-season tests will continue into 2019, when West Greene plays Washington, defending Class A champion Winchester Thurston, Sewickley Academy and Bishop Canevin. All are non-section games.

5. Ringgold boys – What a turnaround for the Rams.

At this time last season, Ringgold was 1-5 and had lost each of those games by at least 15 points. An ugly start ended in similar fashion with the Rams only winning three games and failing to secure a section victory.

When they begin the Charleroi Christmas Tournament Wednesday, Ringgold will be at 5-1 and on a four-game winning streak. Four of the five wins were of 10 or more points. The only loss – to open the season against Norwin – was by one point.

What has allowed Ringgold to start much better than last season is finding balanced scoring. Luke Wyvratt, Jaden Taylor and Demetrius Butler all average double-digit point totals. Chris Peccon, who has only played three games, leads the team with 23.7 points per game.

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