The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 16, 2012

CORY ISENBERG| Season coming into focus early

Cory Isenberg

JOHNSTOWN — It’s still only the second week of the high school hoops season and already some patterns are beginning to emerge and two players have topped the 1,000-point plateau.

With a strong starting rotation returning, the defending District 5 Class A champion Shade boys have their eyes set high again this season and are currently 6-0. The Panthers emerged with the tournament title from the 35th annual Mountain Cat Tournament at Pitt-Johnstown over the weekend, downing a talented Northern Bedford squad in the title game to win the championship.

It was Shade’s second appearance in the UPJ title game and first victory. The Panthers, who also came away with the crown at the Chestnut Ridge tip-off tournament, tangled with Hollidaysburg in 2008, losing 58-57 to the Golden Tigers.

Shade’s Ryan Fyock, who scored 30 points to lead the Panthers against Northern Bedford, was selected tournament MVP, and teammate Wade Walker (16 points) was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

With just a few games in the books and section play not yet started, four boys squads in the Laurel Highlands are still unbeaten in the league, including Bishop McCort, the defending District 6-AA champion, and Greater Johnstown (2-2), the Class AAA four-time defending titlists, in Section 2, along with Penn Cambria (3-0) and Bishop Guilfoyle (2-0) in Section 2.

The Crimson Crushers head to Hollidaysburg’s Golden Tiger tournament facing the hosts in opening-round action on Wednesday. The other boys teams at the tournament include Erie McDowell and Brooklyn (N.Y.) Transit Tech.

In the girls section of the Laurel Highlands Conference, play has already been interesting with the ladies from Bishop Guilfoyle targeting themselves as the top team to beat, just as the coaches predicted.

The Forest Hills girls, who are also headed to the Golden Tiger Tournament and will face Erie McDowell on Thursday, had their hands full last Friday as Richland handed the Rangers their first loss.

And speaking of the Rams, they are 4-0 overall under new head coach Mike Urban and are 2-0 in Section 2, where Bishop McCort is also undefeated in the league. In Section 1, the Marauders (3-1) and Cambria Heights (1-2) are unbeaten.

Richland’s Katie Gehlmann topped 1,000 points on Wednesday against Penn Cambria and became the first area player this season to achieve the milestone.

A night later, Natalie Sokira of Cambria County Christian followed Gehlmann to the 1,000-point mark.

Teams will play their final week before the Christmas break and many squads will then head to holiday tournaments the following week.

Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.