Cosie Aliquo heard people talking about how talented his Bishop Carroll boys’ basketball team is this season.
He’s read the preseason news clippings and certainly noticed that the Huskies were ranked third in the state in one Class A preseason poll.
Aliquo has been part of the area basketball scene long enough to know the hype won’t mean much if his team doesn’t perform to its abilities.
“Without a doubt we’ve got a target on our back,” Aliquo said earlier this week. “Everybody wants us. I told our guys that ranking doesn’t mean anything. In our conference, you can’t take anybody lightly. We’ll worry about the rankings at the end of the year and see where we go.”
Bishop Carroll won its first three games over Conemaugh Valley and Bedford on the road, and against LHAC rival Bishop McCort at home Friday.
The Huskies haven’t allowed more than 35 points in those games, and Carroll held Bedford to a paltry 19 points.
“The experience factor is big,” Aliquo said. “I tell our guys if they think this is a big game they’re playing in the regular season, just think what they were doing last year in March. Let’s keep battling and fighting and playing hard and see where we go.”
Bishop Carroll had a march to remember in March.
Despite a tough loss to LHAC opponent Bishop Guilfoyle in the 6-A title game, Bishop Carroll made noise in the state playoffs, beating a highly regarded WPIAL champion Vincentian Academy team and nearly shocking the state in a tight game against Lincoln Park.
The Huskies brought back four starters from that playoff-tested 23-6 team, including junior playmaking guard Brandon Martinazzi and inside presence Marcus Lee, a 6-6 senior who got better and better as last season progressed.
“Brandon opens up a lot for the other guys,” Aliquo said. “The other team’s defense is more cautious of him. He’s been passing the ball really well. When he’s unselfish he’s really hard to guard.
“Marcus is starting to hit the outside shot,” he added. “That opens it up for Marcus and Scott and Nick Burk on the inside. We’re trying to make it harder for them to guard him and he’s doing a pretty good job right now.”
Seniors Mitchell Madonna and David Maruca, and junior Nik Suckinos bring experience to the floor. The addition of 6-8 junior Scott Holsinger, a transfer from Central Cambria, provides more size as the Huskies fill the void left by lone graduated starter, Scott Ranck.
“Holsinger is doing well. He fits right in. He’s learning the system. More and more, once he learns the system, he’ll be a big help. At Bedford he had blocked shots and that’s big for him.”
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50-plus: Conemaugh Valley senior Blake Furman shattered a single-game school record that had stood 31 years during Friday’s 86-47 win over visiting Turkeyfoot Valley.
Furman scored 54 points, surpassing the previous Blue Jays’ record of 50 set by Bob Stepien in 1982. Furman also had 12 rebounds and four steals.
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Lions roar: The United girls’ program opened 4-0 with 5-7 senior Eden Bloom averaging 18.3 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.
The Lions won the Windber Area Athletic Boosters Association Tip-Off Tournament and followed up with wins over Saltsburg and Northern Cambria. All four wins have been on the road.
United finally plays at home on Monday against Blairsville.
The quick start is even more impressive because United went 12-12 last season after posting marks of 6-16, 5-13, 3-20 and 0-23 in the four previous years, respectively.
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Panthers prowl: Shade won its first five games entering Saturday’s championship contest against Blairsville in the Mountain Cat Tournament at UPJ.
Shade won the Chestnut Ridge season-opening tournament and followed with convincing wins over Meyersdale and Salisbury-Elk Lick before defeating Forbes Road in the opening round of the Mountain Cat Tournament.
Jeremy Pyles, a 5-10 junior, averaged nearly 21 points a game. Senior Nash Walker is a catalyst on the team, scoring 12 points a game while dishing out 5.5 assists and grabbing 5.5 rebounds a game.
The Panthers are defending 5-A champions coming off a 26-2 season and state playoff appearance.
Shade graduated standouts Wade Walker, Ryan Fyock and Brock Medva from that team but still has put together a solid start.