The recently concluded WPIAL basketball championships gave fans who were lucky enough to secure tickets to the six games played at Peters Township an early look at the area’s newest high school gymnasium.

It’s also one of the best in the WPIAL.

“The nicest high school gym I’ve been in,” West Greene girls coach Jordan Watson said.

That’s not surprising when you consider that the folks at Peters Township, when in the planning stages, used the gym at Bethel Park – what they believed was the best gym in the WPIAL at the time – as a template and then tried to improve what they didn’t like about the Black Hawks’ facility. Instead of an overhead scoreboard, Peters Township has scoreboards in opposite corners of the gym. The other two corners have video boards that can display in-game statistics. They also added more room between the baselines and the first row of seating, and the concourses are wider than at Bethel Park.

What fans notice first about the gym is they enter at the top of the seating area instead of at court level.

Though capacity was limited at the WPIAL Championships, there were enough spectators to give one the impression that the new gym could be quite a home-court advantage for Peters Township. Even with the gym being at less than half capacity, the noise level was impressive. The sound seemed to be deflected back down to court level. With the place filled, the volume is sure to make things uncomfortable for visiting teams.

The one thing the new gym doesn’t have that PT’s often-cramped old gymnasium had is an Indian painted on the wall. The one in the old gym had an interesting feature. The way that it was painted, no matter where in the gymnasium you were located, it seemed as if the Indian was looking directly at you, with a bow and arrow pointed in your direction.

The new PT gym, along with the Convocation Center at California University and Salvitti Family Gymnasium at W&J’s Henry Memorial Center, give Washington County three of the finest basketball facilities in Western Pennsylvania. And if you’re a fan of old-school gyms, there’s always the one at Washington High School. Here’s hoping that next season we’ll all be able to watch games in each of them.

  • The majority of the spring sports seasons for high schools begin Friday. That’s great news for local athletes because their seasons were canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams in baseball, lacrosse, softball, boys volleyball and track will get underway Friday. The boys tennis season has already started.

Because of the nearly two-year layoff it will be difficult to predict which teams will be strong this spring, which could make the seasons more entertaining and surprising.

Trinity’s baseball team will be returning to Wild Things Park this season. The Hillers had been playing at Washington & Jefferson’s Ross Memorial Park but the

  • college is not currently renting its facilities to outside teams because of the pandemic. Trinity and the Wild Things recently reached a deal for the Hillers to play all their home games at Wild Things Park, which will be a busy place this spring with Trinity, Washington, McGuffey and Canon-McMillan playing there along with California University.
  • During the pandemic, no high school sport had to be more creative this year than wrestling. That the PIAA was able to conduct its individual postseason without significant disruption was a major accomplishment, though some changes had to made. Because of the state’s indoor capacity limitations, the Powerade tournament was moved from Canon-McMillan High School to the Monroeville Convention Center without many complaints. With that move as a blueprint, Waynesburg has shifted its match tonight against Erie Prep in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament to the EQT Center. The change will allow for a few hundred more fans to attend.

High schools doing something for the fans. That’s an idea the professional leagues should try for a change.

  • March is supposed to be the best time of year for college basketball fans, but the NCAA tournament has given us a new kind of March Madness. It’s the crawl to the finish of all close games.

If all the team-called timeouts are not bad enough, officials have taken every opportunity to review calls in the final two minutes of a game. They review calls every time a ball goes out of bounds. They review stoppages of the clock at every opportunity. It’s all permitted, because somebody decided that a missed call in the final two minutes might be more important than a missed call in the game’s 15th or 25th minute.

The stoppages have not been limited to the postseason. Because of numerous video reviews, it took 17 minutes to play the final 44 seconds of a regular-season game this year involving Iowa and Wisconsin. There is nothing a college basketball fan enjoys less than watching officials stare at a monitor during the closing seconds of a game.

How did college basketball thrive before this systemic destruction?

And they say baseball has a problem with its pace of play.

Sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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