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The AAAA and AAA Story
By Paul Paterra

As the high school boys' basketball season entered the week of holiday tournaments it seemed the so-called experts knew of what they spoke concerning the higher classifications.

Teams that were expected to be among the best have started out that way - in most cases.

Quad A was thought to be the domain of the "Hills," specifically Penn Hills and Woodland Hills. Both teams have done well this season. Woodland Hills entered the week with a 5-3 record and Penn Hills sat at 4-4.

But they play in the tough Section 4-AAAA. Two other schools have stepped to the forefront in that section - Plum and Franklin Regional.

Plum was considered a sleeper before the season started. Guess what, the Mustangs are awake with wins in each of their first nine games. A senior-laden lineup paced by center Matt Magnesium and guard Carlo Dorazio has helped lead Plum to its torrid start.

Franklin Regional seems to be back to the status it carried when it played in the WPIAL and PIAA championship game in 1997. The Panthers have a guard-oriented team with players such as Steve Scorpion and Steve Parello but have shot the ball well.

Woodland Hills continues to improve. The return to the lineup of Jason Russell and Rafael Smith after their football season ended has helped the Wolverines.

The Section 1-AAAA race has been affected a bit by the injury to Greensburg-Salem's Moses Jevicky. The Lions (five wins in their first eight games) have done well without the 6-4 forward who averaged 16 points a game last season. Jevicky, who broke his leg during the first week of the football season could be back in the next few days. Latrobe leads the section with a 2-0 mark and guards Mike Kozusko and Mike Yandrick make them a team to watch.

Uniontown and Connellsville lead the way in Section 2-AAAA this season. Connellsville has a balanced attack, while Uniontown is strong in the backcourt with Tink Truley and Ray Winfrey.

Butler and Shaler have been the top dogs of Section 4-AAAA. Shaler's Yuri Demetris has been sizzling the cords to the tune of about 36 points a game. He announced last Friday his intentions of playing college ball at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bethel Park was the preseason favorite in Section 5-AAAA. The Black Hawks spilt their first eight games and their first two section contests. Mt. Lebanon - led by 6-1 guard Tyler Bluemling - leads the section with a 3-0 mark.

There was only one Class AAA team undefeated as the calendar rolled toward Christmas Day. It's not a surprise. It's Blackhawk.

The Cougars have sizzled as wins in each of their first nine games would indicate. Each of their five starters is averaging in double figures in the scoring column. Point guard Brandon Fuss-Cheatham is the maestro for this offensive concerto. Fuss-Cheatham is averaging around 20 points a game and dishing out around five assists a contest.

Another strong Class AAA team is Pine-Richland, although the Rams did lose their holiday tournament opener to Duquesne this past Monday. The Rams' one-two punch of 6-5 Mike Decker and 6-0 Alan MacQuarrie is tough to stop on any evening. Both averaged more than 22 points a game last season.

Mt. Pleasant is off to a hot start. The Vikings won eight of their first nine, including victories in each of their first three Section 3-AAA contests. They get a lot of scoring punch from 6-3 senior swingman Phil Grenda and 6-3 senior forward Jeff Swartz.

Section 4-AAA is going to be a dog fight, especially between Thomas Jefferson, Steel Valley, Brownsville and West Mifflin. Thomas Jefferson is 3-0 in the section and has an explosive offense paced by 6-1 senior Ted Winowich and 6-3 senior Darren Belajac. West Mifflin boasts a young a talented squad with 6-5 junior Rob Carrington and 6-2 sophomore point guard Bryant McCallister.

Section 5-AAA is the home of a very talented Chartiers Valley team. The Colts are hot and the return of 6-6 Jason Brown from academic woes has made them even stronger. The Colts won seven of their first eight games and opened play in San Diego's Surf & Slam tournament with a 66-37 win over Edmonds-Woodway, Washington.

Montour should not be forgotten. Darren Tielsch transferred back to the school after a year and has provided a nice scoring punch. Sam Woods - a 6-10 junior - is a shot-blocking machine. He recorded 13 rejections in a game last Wednesday against Steel Valley.