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Special Basketball Edition of Monday Morning Ramblings 


Far be it from me to complain about a team with a losing record not making the playoffs. If you are new to my writings you should know that every football season prior to the playoffs I analyze the WPIAL bracket and moan about how many 4-5 (or worse!) teams are in the postseason.

However, with their loss to Johnstown on Saturday, Indian Valley finished their 2004-05 season with an 11-16 mark. Hardly the stuff champions are made of. Don’t tell that to them though, as they played Cinderella by upsetting both Central Cambria and Bellefonte. It just happened to turn to midnight on them when they met up with JHS.

What’s my point, right? Well, if this were a year ago, the Warriors would be getting ready to take on a WPIAL team (most likely the #3 seed) in the first round of PIAA interdistrict play. Also, two teams with much better win-loss records, Bellefonte and Forest Hills, would likely have played a consolation game in order to qualify for the PIAA playoffs. They too would have been playing a WPIAL squad, most likely their #2 seed.

Not this year though, as only the District 6-AAA champion qualified for the state playoffs. So JHS goes on but two other good teams go home or get ready for baseball or track. What happened in a matter of one year that the 6-AAA goes from three qualifiers to one?

District 3 has 7 qualifiers, up one from a year ago and deservedly so as it’s a much larger district. The WPIAL, or District 7, is actually down one team. They qualify six teams at AAA this season. District 10 is also down a seed from a year ago, qualifying 3 squads. Just as a year ago, Districts 8 (Pittsburgh City League) and 9 (North Central PA) qualify only their champion.

A Western Pennsylvania bias might be quick to blame the admittance of Philadelphia Public League schools into the PIAA as the culprit but no dice. Must of the schools in the pub are AAAA, only one squad, Bok, qualified in the PIAA AAA bracket. The Allentown area, District 11 is sending one more team than a year ago. D11 will have 2 squads in the AAA bracket.

Clearly it’s a numbers game, and when your district only has eight teams that play at a classification and seven of them qualify for the playoffs it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense qualify nearly half your members for the state playoffs.

However, I would argue that it’s a hard sell for the individual coaches and players that work so hard. What the 6-AAA scene lacks in numbers it makes up in area. Had the first, second and third teams qualified this year, they would be representing Cambria, Mifflin and possibly Centre County. Those aren’t exactly neighboring counties.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, it’s a moot point for me as the Trojans are the district champs. However, with enrollment figures dwindling in the Laurel Highlands, it is most likely that at some point in the future it will be Johnstown that is froze out of the opportunity of playing in the state tournament.

LOOKING AHEAD: Most pundits would agree that JHS is the clear favorite in their game with Elizabeth Forward this Friday night. If that pans out, Johnstown fans have a chance to see the premier player in the western part of the state in Yough’s Ben McCauley. The 6-8 senior is heading to North Carolina State to continue his career. The Cougars are 19-8 and coming off a loss to Moon in the WPIAL finals over the weekend at the A.J. Palumbo Center. They are taking on the District 10 runner-up Grove City (19-7) on Friday at Plum High School at 7:30 p.m. If Yough wins, they would play the winner of the JHS-EF game on Tuesday, March 8 at a site to be determined.

If JHS would win two contests, the bracket would have them playing someone from a eastern district. A team from either District 4 (Milton), District 2 (West Scranton), District 3 (West York) or District 11 (Blue Mountain) will advance to the round of eight and drop to the western half of the bracket in AAA.

Doug Keklak can be reached at

NOTE:  This column can also be read at the Trojan Nation Weblog as well. 


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