2017 Western PA Bruins Tip-Off Classic
WPA Bruins Spring Tip-Off- Saturday
It was the first day of the WPA Bruins Spring Tip-Off event on Saturday, and it wasn’t difficult to see why it is considered the premier tipoff event in the Midwest with all the talent in the gym.
I spent the day at Penn Hills High School, and got to see several games, focusing on four games that I enjoyed in their entirety. Here are the
WPA Bruins vs Capital City Comets
The host WPA Bruins Cash team showed why they are the top travel team in Western Pennsylvania. They looked very dominant at times in the tournament opening 59-36 win over Capital City Comets Fowler.
The Bruins bolted out to a quick 6-1 lead as they used their aggressive style to set the tone early. Capital City fought back to make it 12-10 before the Bruins kicked it into another gear scoring 15 straight points to extend their lead out t 27-10 with four minutes left in the half.
Kyndall Spires ended the run with a pair of free throws late in the half, but the Bruins were in control at the break 38-14.
Using a running clock in the second half, the Bruins finished with two players in double figures as Alexa Williamson (Chartiers-Houston) led the way with 13 points, while Makenna Marisa (Peter’s Township) added 10. Ayanna Townsend (Winchester Thurston) scored eight to add to the attack for the Bruins, while adding six each was Tai Johnson (Mars) and Mary Casamassa (Aquinas Academy).
Team Huddle Black vs Next Level AAU
It was a game that saw a slow start for both teams, but when the dust settled, Team Huddle Black cruised to a 52-18 win over Next Level. Once Team Huddle started to score, they never looked back.
Turnovers doomed Next Level, as Team Huddle capitalized to a 14-5 lead with nine minutes left in the first half.
The lead expanded to 25-5 with just over five minutes left in the first half, as Team Huddle was sitting on a 34-8 halftime, sending the game into a running clock second half.
Kennedy Schlabach (Hiland) led Huddle with 11 points with a trip of three-pointers. Alexis Green (Hoover) added 10 points while Serena Sammarone (Canfield) scored eight.
Western PA Bruins Cash vs Dayton Metro 2019
It was another solid performance for the Western PA Bruins Cash squad, as they jumped out to a dominant halftime lead, and never looked back in a 44-28 victory over the Dayton (OH) Metro sophomore team.
The Bruins’ Amani Johnson (East Allegheny) exploded to the rim on the opening minutes, as the first six minutes saw the Bruins lead 10-4.
Their uptempo style and solid defense forced several turnovers out of Metro, as the Ohio-based team could not get into any offense.
The host team led 31-12 at the half, and early in the second half, the game went to a running clock. The Metro could never get the lead down under 15, as they could not muster any consistent offense the entire game.
Johnson led the Bruins with 10 points, Marisa added eight and both Williamson and Casamassa each scored six.
Metro was led by Kyra Willis (Wayne) with eight points, while Madison Bartley (Fairmont) added seven.
Capital City Comets Baker vs Central PA Elite
After a slow start, the Central PA Elite squad took the lead in the final ten minutes of the first half, and went on to a 57-48 win over the Comets Baker team.
The Comets jumped out in front early 5-0 before the CPA Elite used a big three from Rachael Reilly connected from three-point land to get them on the board.
Both teams battled throughout the first half, as Hannah Myers scored with seven minutes left in the half to give the CPA Elite an 18-17 lead, their first lead of the game.
The Elite maintained the momentum to take a 35-30 lead at the half, and battled through the final 16 minutes to hang on for the win.
In a very balanced attack, Ahmya Woodyard (Sci-Tech) led the way for the CPA Elite with 10 points, as nine players scored. Nikson Valencik (Central York) added eight, while three players each scored seven, Myers, Jania Wright (York Catholic) and Lauren Pettis (Susquehanna Twp).
Alyssa Evans led the Comets team with 18 points with three three-point shots. Both Madison Hensley and Logan Stidham each added six.
Five Players To Note from Saturday:
While the talent was at a good level throughout the tourney, here are five kids who I took note of in their games on Saturday:
Makenna Marisa (Western PA Bruins Cash), 5-10 2019, Peter’s Township(PA) HS– Very skilled guard/wing who runs the floor well and can score. She is a wiry kid who can play at the next level. Attacks the paint and can finish. Good floor leader and is a smart floor player. Will knock down her free throws after getting to the rim. I really like her complete game, and only a sophomore, has a good ceiling as far as getting better and improving her skills. Will work to get better.
Allison Campbell (Central PA Dynamite 2020), 5-11 2020, Bellwood-Antis (Altoona, PA)- What can I say about this kid? I can’t believe she is only a freshman, Campbell is a high upside to her game. Very heady court awareness, and is a smart player. She can get to the rim, switches hands well in the paint, and is a good offensive player. Also works hard on defense, and she will only get better. Incredible upside.
Alexis Green (Team Huddle Black), 5-8 2018, Hoover (OH)- Impressive guard who played well in the game that I saw. Liked how well she saw the floor, and despite the large margin of victory, Alexis played hard throughout. She also impressed with her three-point ability. An aggressive and strong player, she should have a good summer for the Northeast Ohio travel club.
Alexis Williamson (Western PA Bruins Cash), 6-1 2018, Chartiers-Houston (Houston, PA)- At times, a very dominant force in the paint for the Bruins, Alexis is a force in the paint with her athleticism and aggressiveness. She never quite, and around the rim, Alexis’ moves allows her to control the paint. Physical and a player who should have a productive senior season.
Presley Griffitts (Dayton Metro 2019), 5-11 2019, Tecumseh (OH)- Despite a rough opening game, Presley bounced back in her last two games on the day. Quick, athletic guard who is a taller point guard, and sees the floor well. Slasher and can get to the rim, or score from the perimeter. Aggressive defender, and will find the open player.
Western PA Bruins Sunday Notes:
Western PA Bruins Cash vs West Michigan Drive
It wasn’t hard to tell this game was the 8 a.m. game on a Sunday morning, as both teams struggled to get into any type of rhythm early in this game. Both offenses were stagnant in the first 16 minutes, and neither team could muster a score the first three minutes of the game.
Amani Johnson (East Allegheny) played well in the opening half, as she finally broke the ice three minutes into the game with a score, then came back with a three and a steal. Midway through the first half, the Bruins were leading 14-4.
West Michigan continued to struggle from the field, going six minutes without a score before hitting a free throw with 2:34 left in the first half.
They also were held to only one field goal for 15:59 of the first half, before Cassie Dean got to the rim and scored at the first half buzzer, drawing a three-point play. After connecting on her free throw, the Bruins saw their lead cut under double figures at 20-11 at the half.
The Bruins continued to hold WMI off the board, as they pushed their lead to 29-12 on a three by Tai Johnson (Mars HS).
The Bruins finished off Western Michigan 45-22, to continue their run toward what was eventually an appearance in the bracket championship game.
Leading the way for the Bruins with eight points each was Amani Johnson and Alexa Williamson, while scoring six apiece were Tai Johnson, Ayanna Townsend and Gia Thorpe.
West Michigan could only muster four field goals in the game, along with 14 free throws.
Cincinnati Finest Sophomore Blk vs Central PA Dynamite
This game had a much faster and more energetic start than the early game, as both teams came out looking to put points on the board. The opening three minutes saw the Dynamite lead 8-5 as the defending AAU National Champions have so many weapons. Not only do they have a lot of talent, this group will get after you on defense, pressure the ball and they know where each player will be.
The Dynamite led 35-21 at the half.
Early in the second half, Ally Campbell started to heat up for the Dynamite. She scored five early points and extended their lead over the Finest.
Playing without coach Steve Sanders, who received two technical fouls in the second half, the Finest could never get on track. They lost 64-34 to the Dynamite.
Leading the way for the Dynamite was Campbell who scored 16 points, the majority in the second half. Also scoring 11 was Maya Bokunewicz (Sate College HS), who really showed me a lot Sunday morning with her ability to attack and get to the rim and finish. She has great hands and runs the floor well.
Adding eight points each were Kiera Booth (Berlin Bros) and Halee Smith (Juniata Valley).
A highlight player for the Finest that I liked was Ci Ci Riggins of Hamilton (OH) HS who scored double figures.
The Highlight Reel:
Haley Porter (Ohio Express), 5-6 2018. The Union Local High School product from Ohio had the highlight performance of the weekend in her game against Cincinnati Finest. Ohio Express won a thriller 71-70 in bracket play, but what everyone was talking about was the performance of the junior guard.
Porter connected on 10 three-point shots in the game for a game high 36 points.
“She had a great shooting day, some were well beyond the three point arc,” said Ohio Express coach Allen Hunter. “She also had a couple of step back shots. She didn’t have to set many screens, she was just getting her own shot.”
Porter just finished a season at Union Local where she set the school record with 75 three’s, and has hit several game winning three’s over her three year career with the Express.
“Haley is getting some D2 looks, and her game has improved, especially her defense and handles where she may start to get some D1 looks this summer,” Hunter added.
What makes her performance even more amazing is how she hit her tenth three. It was the game winning shot from near half court with two defenders on her.
Porter had 11 points at the half before exploding for 25 in the last 16 minutes. They scored 52 points as a team in the second half.
She is not the only player on that team who will get some looks. Jessie Addis (Nelsonville York) is getting D2 looks, Lilly Ritz (Cambridge) is a pure athlete who should some college looks. Madison Hunter (John Glenn) is also getting D1 interest.
The Blue Open Division finals saw Team Takeover EYBL defeat WPA Bruins Cash 58-50 to capture the championship. In the Black Open Division championship game, Michigan Crossover had no trouble with All-Ohio Express 57-37.
The 10th grade 2019 Diamond bracket championship game saw CPA Dynamite cruise to a 54-32 win over CPA Elite-Thomas, as they played up one age group. In the Silver Bracket, CPA Elite Dupps defeated Bridge City 62-38.