Thursday, March 22, 2012

News and Notes: Thursday Edition

Below, some news and notes for Thursday...
  • The NBA D-League website notes that Foote could be a fit for the Boston Celtics and writes, "The C’s, who’d reportedly been interested in carving away some pieces of the Big 4 (Rajon Rondo included at this point) before the Deadline, ended up keeping the team intact. The only problem with that is that they’re still searching for a big man. And while the NBA D-League hasn’t had an abundance of elite post talent this year, it now features a handful of players who could slide into a lineup immediately. JEFF FOOTE Center, Springfield Armor (Cornell) Now that Foote’s back from his call-up the Hornets, he slides back into the No. 1 spot for NBA D-League big men. He’s improving every day, and his soft hands and defensive intensity will keep Foote a top prospect until he’s a full-time NBA player." The D-League also ranks Foote as the league's 5th overall best prospect for the NBA.

If there's one guarantee heading into the 16th annual Cager Classic this weekend, it's that fans of high-scoring basketball will not be going home disappointed.

Two of the WPIAL's highest scorers this season -- Highlands senior Micah Mason and Plum senior Nolan Cressler -- will be going head-to-head for the second time this season.

The first meeting between the two certainly didn't disappoint. Mason scored 31 points and Cressler had 29 in Plum's 84-54 win in Plum's early season tournament on Dec. 10. In their careers, the two have combined for 3,837 points. Mason will play next year at Drake, while Cressler will play at Cornell.

"There's lot of talent of there," said Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley, who will lead Cressler's East team in the Classic this weekend.

Gourley said he watched Cressler perform in the playoffs earlier this season, and came away impressed with what he saw.

"He's a great player," he said. "He's got a real nice little turnaround jump shot. He can do it all."

Cressler finished the season averaging 25.8 points per game for the Mustangs, who made it to the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals but were eliminated by Shaler.

The teams will only get one practice together before Saturday's game, so Gourley said it would be tough to install many specific plays or sets. He did say, though, that he would try and match up Cressler and Mason on the floor together as often as possible.

"I think that they're going to make everybody else around them better," Gourley said.

Other area players in the Classic include Cressler's Plum teammate Tarique Ellis, Kiski Area's Tre Carter and Alex Lamendola, Burrell's Kyle Legters, Valley's Thomas Weremeychik and Riverview's Jake Milberger and Corey Bickert. Bickert is hurt and will not play in the game, but will attend the festivities.

"There's not a lot we can put in, but I think these two [Mason and Cressler] and the rest of the kids, they've been playing long enough where they can improvise and make things happen," Gourley said.

Gourley will also get another chance to coach his former player, Apollo-Ridge senior Anthony Bozzarelli.

"I've been around Anthony since he was in seventh grade," Gourley said. "He's not real tall, only six feet or so, but he plays like he's 6-5."

The boys game will tip off at 8 p.m. Saturday, following the girls game at 6 p.m. There will also be a skills competition at 7 p.m. Friday. All events will take place at Highlands High School.

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