Eugene Briggs’ fourth season as boys coach at Chartiers-Houston began with shocking news. The Buccaneers’ starting point guard from the previous season, Alec Ferrari, was diagnosed as having a blood clot in his arm. He found out upon returning from a family vacation in June.
Surgery was required to removed the clot, including a rib, that kept Ferrari inactive until the start of the season. Without practice time or preparation, Briggs did not know what to expect. Ferrari did not miss a beat. The 6-0 junior has averaged 12.8 points and 6.9 assists per game for Chartiers-Houston (16-6) this season.
“For him to come back and do everything he has done is pretty phenomenal,” Briggs said. “He has grown into it, and the offense begins and ends with him.”
Ferrari will play a pivotal role for the Bucs, who are seeking the program’s first playoff win. Unfortunately for Briggs, an unexpected injury has again forced him to adjust his lineup. Chartiers-Houston’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Kodie Hanley, suffered a lung contusion last week and is expected to miss the first-round playoff matchup against Charleroi (13-7). The Bucs and Cougars are playing at 3 p.m., Saturday at Chartiers Valley for the No. 12 seed and a chance to play Aliquippa.
Hanley’s injury is just one piece of a long, injury-filled puzzle that has dogged Chartiers-Houston’s season. Noah Deep had back surgery in August and was out until mid-December, starting guard Maverick Houston transferred to The Linsly School, junior Caleb Armstrong missed all but two weeks this season after shoulder surgery, Devin Tennant dislocated his knee cap, and Tyler Day suffered a collapsed lung last weekend.
Despite the constant roster shuffling, the Bucs recorded a school-record 16 wins and have earned non-section wins over Carrick, Avonworth and Carmichaels.
“When you look at that, you are at a school without a long history of success, you go through all of that stuff and you end up being 16-6,” Briggs said. “It says a lot about the type of chemistry they have with each other. That’s why we have made it through all of this.”
Without Hanley’s 14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, Deep will be inserted into the Bucs’ starting lineup Saturday, bringing a more traditional three-guard set to their offense as the team attempts to make history. Though they are missing their leading scorer, the Bucs are used to playing a man down.
“It took until the last couple of weeks for me to convince them that they were that good,” Briggs said. “They just figured it was me telling them something, and they didn’t really think it was true. There wasn’t a thought of we could do damage in the playoffs and now that we’ve beat some good teams, they believe in themselves.”
All-WPIAL soccer teams announced
Winning the WPIAL Class AAA title in boys soccer capped a remarkable run for Peters Township. The hard work resulted in three of the team’s top contributors being selected to one of the WPIAL all-star teams. Junior forwards Nico and Mario Mastrangelo made it in Section 5-AAA as well as Indians senior defender Max Lindsay.
Peters Township’s bitter rivals, Canon-McMillan, had four players on the team: senior Cory McCurdy, senior defender Ivan Viveros, senior defender Bryan Sontag and junior forward Josh Krucek.
In Section 4-AAA, Trinity junior midfielder Preston Kulla and Ringgold senior forward Jeremy Perez were named.
Class AA boys included four players from South Fayette: Dan Pruss, Evan Yee, Brian Coyne and Alex Gedrys. Charleroi’s Jerimiah Hyatt also made it. McGuffey’s selections were the Harris brothers, Aaron and Tyler, as well as Matt Nardi.
In Section 4-A boys, Wash High’s Ted Dragich and Del Bredniak were picked, as was Monessen’s Luke Doptis, Zach Picciarelli and Josh Kucmeroski. Dakota Phillips was selected from Beth-Center and Phil Agostinelli from Chartiers-Houston.
For girls, Canon-Mac had three selections from Section 5 – senior Francesca Scenna, junior Sydney Keremes and junior Kyra Murphy – and Peters Township had six – Emily Franty, Laurel Carpenter, Carly Johns, Madeline LaVigna, Maddi Santo and Megan Parker.
Ringgold’s Jill Bartman and Caylee Miller were named from Section 4-AAA.
Section 4-AA found McGuffey’s Marlie Mounts and Section 5-AA has South Fayette’s Micaela Mitchell, Chelsae Hughes, Jen Byham, Jayna Fittipaldo and Natalie Hilton.
In Section 2-A, Kelsey Plute and Miranda Vankirk of Bentworth joined Marissa Johnson, Halee Fedrick, Rachel Ritzer and Sydney Toth from Charleroi and Erin James from Chartiers-Houston.
Another award for South Fayette football
South Fayette will be presented with the Army National Guard national ranking trophy at 1:30 p.m. Friday as part of the ninth annual MaxPreps Football Tour of Champions.
The Lions completed their first unbeaten season, 16-0, in the school’s 86-year history by defeating Imhotep Charter of Philadelphia, 41-0, in the PIAA Class AA championship Dec. 15. South Fayette finished No. 93 in the final rankings and is one of 50 schools being honored on this season’s tour.
The presentation will take place during the school’s winter sports assembly.