The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 3, 2012

MIKE MASTOVICH | An eventful season for Callihans

Eric Knopsnyder
eknopsnyder@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — The three Callihan brothers have gone through more cellphone minutes than usual during the current District 6 basketball playoff run.

The siblings have had plenty to talk about as the championship and consolation rounds neared.

Maybe, a bit of bragging too.

“We talk every night during the playoffs. Everybody had a good season,” said Tom Callihan, the assistant athletic director at Westmont Hilltop.

“We call each other up. Jeff will tell me about his game at Bishop Carroll. I’ll tell him what Westmont did. Joe will call on the girls nights to tell me how Richland did. It’s like a big scouting session each night.”

Tom and Joe Callihan are twins. Joe is a junior high girls coach who videotapes varsity games as part of Richland coach Ralph McGinnis’ staff.

The 6-foot-4 Callihans were known as the Trojans’ Twin Towers before they graduated from Johnstown High in 1983.

Jeff Callihan is an assistant coach to Cosie Aliquo at Bishop Carroll. The 6-5 younger Callihan graduated from Johnstown in the late 1980s.

“All year round we talk about it and we argue about whose team is going to be best,” Joe Callihan said. “We are like that in football too.”

All of their teams have done pretty well this season.

The Bishop Carroll boys will play Northern Cambria in a rematch of the District 6-A title game won by the Huskies last year. That game tips off at 3:30 p.m. today at St. Francis University.

The No. 10 seed Richland girls upset their way into the

6-AA title game against LHAC rival Forest Hills. That contest will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight, also at DeGol Arena.

“We went in as the 10 seed.

“We saw the bracket and thought we could get through it,” Joe Callihan said. “It’s been fun. I coach the younger girls and I learned a lot that I can use in junior high. Ralph is a great coach. I learned a lot in just one season with him.”

As an assistant AD, Tom Callihan roots for both the Westmont boys and girls. Each team played in Friday night’s 6-AA consolation round. Dave Roman Jr.’s boys played Tyrone, and Jodi Hillegass’ girls squad faced Blairsville.

“Of course I always cheer for Westmont but part of me wants my brothers to do well,” Tom Callihan said. “It’s always Westmont first.”

• • •

Hoops Laurels: The Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference is well represented in the District 6 title games.

Two title games were all-LHAC outings.

Johnstown won its fourth consecutive 6-AAA boys crown against conference rival Somerset, 72-64, on Thursday night.

“This is one of the toughest conferences around in all sports,” Johnstown coach Neil Cobaugh said. “You play some of the top teams in AA and AAA. It’s a testament to the kind of kids and talent we have in this area and the tough kind of basketball we have to play night-in and night-out.”

Top-seeded Forest Hills and Richland will square off for the 6-AA girls crown tonight.

In 6-A boys, Bishop Carroll will face Northern Cambria. In 6-AA boys, defending champion Bishop McCort will play Bellwood-Antis at 8 p.m. tonight at St. Francis.

In 6-A girls, perennial state power Bishop Guilfoyle will represent the LHAC against Homer-Center at 2 p.m. today.

That’s seven LHAC representatives to fill a possible 10 spots in the classifications that include teams from the conference.

“With our conference schedule and our out-of-conference schedule, we felt Tyrone’s physicality in the paint wasn’t going to be any more than being at Somerset with their physicality in their home gym,” Bishop McCort coach Pat Hollern said after a semifinal win over Tyrone on Wednesday. “We’ve seen a bit of everything.

“The great thing about our conference is that so many different teams play so many different styles of games that you have to be good at,” he added.

Johnstown’s Cobaugh agreed.

“You have some physical teams. You have some teams that have great skill guys,” Cobaugh said. “You have teams like Bishop Guilfoyle that play great defense. Mix that all together night-in and night-out, you have to play your A game or you struggle.”

• • •

High 5: The Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center once again is home to the District 5 championship games.

On Friday, top-seeded Conemaugh Township and No. 2 Tussey Mountain met in the

5-AA girls title game; and No. 5 Berlin played No. 3 Shade for the 5-A boys crown.

Tonight, No. 2 Berlin will play top-seeded Southern Fulton at

6 p.m. for the 5-A girls championship; and top-seeded Conemaugh Township and second-seeded Chestnut Ridge will meet for the 5-AA boys title at 8 p.m.