Observer-Reporter Athlete of the Week
Name: Clintell Gillaspie
Gillaspie’s week: The senior guard started the new year in style with 26 points against Section 3-A rival Geibel Friday. Gillaspie hit a trio of three-point shots in an 83-40 victory, which continued Monessen’s dominant run in Class A. The Greyhounds have not lost a game against a Class A opponent this season.
It was difficult to trump his performance against Geibel, especially when Monessen traveled to Uniontown, which entered Saturday’s game undefeated. Gillaspie did that and more. With Monessen the underdog against the Class AAA power, Gillaspie’s three-pointer helped sink the Red Raiders, 74-70. The 6-2 guard’s 28 points sparked Monessen’s upset, which included a 28-point fourth quarter that overcame a 12-point halftime deficit.
From football to basketball: Monessen (1-0, 6-4) has won six of seven games with the victories coming at a critical time for the Greyhounds. Head coach Joe Salvino’s squad started the season with three-straight losses to Class AAAA teams, but it was the quality of the competition that toughened a Monessen team trying to reach the WPIAL championship game for the third time in four years.
Gillaspie is averaging 19.6 points per game for Monessen during the Greyhounds’ fast start to the 2013 season.
It would be unwise to judge Gillaspie by his shooting during warmups. Once the game starts, and he gets his chance to knock down a shot for Monessen, he can judge what type of night it’s going to be for him. That was the case in those two wins.
“During warmups, I’m just cool and chill until the game starts,” Gillaspie said. “I concentrate on the game until it’s time to step up and do what I do. After the second shot or the first shot, I know whether I’m on or not. That’s when the shots all start falling.”
Looking ahead: Salvino believes this year’s Greyhounds squad is poised to continue the tradition of Monessen basketball. The program’s success has included six straight playoff appearances in Class AA and a WPIAL championship in 2011.
“Clintell’s athletic ability means a lot,” Salvino said. “He is still learning the game of basketball. He is a football player. He is learning how to play basketball. When he puts it all together, Clintell could be one of the best athletes that has ever come out of Monessen.”
Gillaspie led the Greyhounds’ football team with 1,218 rushing yards, 679 receiving yards and 204 points, which ranked second in the WPIAL. The performance earned him a spot on the Observer-Reporter’s Elite 11 and a first team all-state selection in Class A by the Pennsylvania Football Writers.
The Next Step: Gillaspie is drawing interest from colleges in basketball, and the senior is weighing interest from Mid-American Conference and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools.
For now, he is focused on Monessen’s first big test in Class A – a road matchup Jan. 14 against previously undefeated Carmichaels.
“I can’t wait for that game,” Gillaspie said. “It’s exciting for me, because everybody thinks that just because the seniors who left are gone, we aren’t that good. We just keep improving and improving.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski