Bishop McCort basketball gets it. So does Greater Johnstown basketball.
Go ahead and count Somerset baseball among the mix. The same goes for Ligonier Valley softball and Northern Cambria volleyball.
What is it that these different programs from various locations within The Tribune-Democrat coverage area get exactly?
The art of schedule making is one thing. Blending the proper mix of league games with challenging out-of-conference contests and a few winnable games is a challenge for area athletic directors and coaches.
The realization that bulky totals under the win column don’t equate to postseason success is another. Actually, some evidence indicates a few tough losses to superior competition and big-school programs during the regular season can pay dividends in the playoffs.
Greater Johnstown boys’ basketball toughened itself with regular season trips to Mt. Lebanon and the Harrisburg area. Bishop McCort gained valuable confidence by playing Greensburg Central Catholic close on the road. Somerset basketball traveled to Virginia for a taste of competition it can’t get around here. The Golden Eagles baseball program has long taken on any challenges offered, even when the competition is outside Pennsylvania.
Stepping outside the confines of competition in districts 5 and 6, when time permits, has significant benefits.
District 7 athletic powerhouse Upper St. Clair is about four times larger than Northern Cambria, but that didn’t stop the Colts from adding the Panthers to the boys’ volleyball schedule.
Are games like that winnable? Not usually. Then again, there’s nothing to lose.
Ligonier Valley softball adopted such an attitude when making its schedule.
No stranger to postseason play, the Rams took on an ambitious slate this spring. Ligonier Valley played Class AAAA Norwin and District 7 power Greensburg-Salem. Another nondistrict game was scheduled against perennial power Sto-Rox, but weather and the impending conclusion of the regular season knocked that intriguing contest off the schedule.
“We have made every effort to play teams that are different than you see in District 6,” Ligonier Valley softball coach Mark Zimmerman said. “Some of those teams in Johnstown and Centre County are good softball teams, but we’re stepping out and playing triple-A and quad-A playoff teams. We want to get ourselves in that environment.”
Ligonier Valley lost to Norwin in extra innings. It lost to one-loss Greensburg-Salem by three runs.
But the Rams came away confident.
“Those games are definitely a help,” said Rams senior pitcher Hailey Umbaugh. “When we’re in a tight game, I have confidence in our hitters and we have confidence in each other that we’ll come through.”
Coming through is a common trait throughout the 2012-13 school year. From Richland football to Bedford soccer to basketball at Bishop Carroll and Shade, the area is nearing the end of an extraordinary year.
One way to keep getting better is to schedule bigger and better competition.
Take a cue from some of the area’s best programs and make it standard operating procedure.
Bishop McCort basketball gets it. So does Greater Johnstown basketball.
- Local Sports
Two from Somerset earn all-state honors
Defensive lineman Bryce Mostoller and linebacker Logan Eller each played a large part in the resurgence of Somerset football over the last two seasons.
Their efforts during the 2013 season – the junior campaigns for both – landed the pair on the Pennsylvania Football Writers’ Class AAA All-State Team, which was released on Thursday.
No players from The Tribune-Democrat’s coverage area were selected to the Class A squad, also released on Thursday.
Northern Cambria volleyball coach inducted into hall of fame
With 400-plus wins, two PIAA Class A girls volleyball championships and nine District 6 crowns amassed, Mike Hogan can add another accolade to his ongoing coaching legacy at Northern Cambria: Hall of famer.
Hogan, the girls and boys coach at Northern Cambria, was inducted into the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame earlier in the month, allowing the veteran coach to join a number of players and coaches who influenced his own path through the sport.
Steelers Brown closing in on records
The memory has never really gone away. It’s still in the back of Antonio Brown’s mind, gnawing at him during the long workouts, the ones he doesn’t talk about and his teammates only mention in somewhat reverent tones.
Six rounds. Nearly 200 players. How was it possible for 194 other players to be taken ahead of him in the 2010 NFL Draft? Even now, in the midst of the breakout season he always believed would come, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver doesn’t want to think about it.
Prestigious awards focus attention on Pitt’s Donald
With all media attention he’s received this season, one might believe that Pittsburgh senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald craves his private time.
But that’s not the case, even though the history making Donald gets recognized much more often around the city after a weeklong awards tour that saw him pick a handful of some of the most prestigious trophies in college football.
- High school basketball in brief | Dec. 20, 2013
Penguins beat Wild for sixth straight win
Chris Kunitz scored his 19th goal, Sidney Crosby had two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a four-goal lead before beating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Thursday night for their season-high sixth straight victory.
Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta sealed the Penguins’ win when he scored on a third-period penalty shot. Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter each scored for the second consecutive game, and defenseman Matt Niskanen also tallied for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 12 overall and a nine straight home game.
Penn State wrestlers easily beat Ohio State
As if the Penn State wrestling team’s lineup wasn’t formidable enough, on Sunday the Nittany Lions introduced another potential superstar.
True freshman Zain Retherford, already ranked No. 8 at 141 pounds, improved his record to 11-0 with a stunning 4-2 overtime upset of top-ranked junior Logan Stieber, a two-time defending NCAA champion.
CORY ISENBERG| Basketball season getting interesting
While it’s still very early in the high school basketball season, there have already been some interesting matchups.
In girls play, Westmont Hilltop knocked Forest Hills out of the ranks of the unbeaten while Bishop Guilfoyle, which lost all five starters from last season, handed Bishop McCort its first loss. The Crushers, who play at troublesome Penn Cambria this evening, entertain the Rangers on Thursday.
Lucas scores 26 in Lady Lions' victory
Maggie Lucas scored 26 points to lead No. 12 Penn State over No. 24 Texas A&M 66-58 on Sunday.
Penn State (7-3) got 14 points from Ariel Edwards and Tori Waldner pulled in 11 rebounds.
Texas A&M (6-3) was led by Courtney Walker with 20 points while Tori Scott had 14.
Kiesel's milestone helps Pitt women win
Junior Brianna Kiesel became the 18th player in Pitt women’s basketball history to score 1,000 career points as the Panthers shot 52 percent in the second half to rally for a 63-49 victory over Old Dominion on Sunday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.
Kiesel scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and was one rebound shy of a double-double with nine. She was joined in double figures by senior Asia Logan with 13 points and redshirt sophomore Loliya Briggs with 11.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Two from Somerset earn all-state honors