McDowell senior Jake Wolf has become a force inside. The 6-foot 5-inch center dominated in the paint with 17 points, including 9-of-9 from the free throw line, in a 69-55 upset of Central Tech in the District 10 Class AAAA semifinals.
Wolf has been a big contributor for the Trojans as their third-leading scorer with 10.1 points per game.
He has emerged as one of the top centers in the area and his role will be crucial on Saturday night as McDowell takes on rival Cathedral Prep for the District 10 Class AAAA championship.
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The McDowell boys basketball team looks like a legitimate contender in Class AAAA this season, and junior Michael Beck is a big part of the Trojans’ early success.
Beck, a 6-foot 3-inch guard, is averaging 15.3 points per game and has put together several big performances.
He scored 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, in a 71-60 win over Strong Vincent, and 22 points in a 66-62 loss to Transit Tech (N.Y.).
Beck has a terrific combination of size and speed and has emerged as a solid weapon for coach Kevin O’Connor’s new-look offense.
Carson Lewis is already enjoying McDowell’s new up-tempo offense this year.
The speedy 5-foot 10-inch senior point guard had 17 points in a 73-67 win over Detroit Westside and 14 points in a 65-29 win over Franklin.
Add in 17 points against Meadville and 15 points in a 71-60 win over Strong Vincent and Lewis is off to a fast start this season.
He also had 19 points in an impressive 55-43 win over Mercyhurst Prep and has emerged as one of the top guards in the area to start the season.
Fans can click here to check out the final minutes of the 77-75 win by Warren over McDowell in boys basketball, including a college-range 3-pointer by Matt Sandberg in the final seconds to secure the upset.
Coach (season, record): Kevin O’Connor (1st season at McDowell, 4th season overall, 21-45)
2011-12 overall record: 11-12
2011-12 region record (place): 2-4 (third)
2011-12 playoff results: Lost to Strong Vincent 63-36 in the District 10 Class AAAA semifinals.
Top player lost: Luke Nientimp
Top returning players: Carson Lewis, Michael Beck, Dalton Grafius, Josh Santillan, James Conner
Assistant coaches: Justin Izbicki, Cliff Beck, Jason Keim, Mychael Molnar, Mark Becker
Outlook: If there is one team to keep an eye on this year, it will be McDowell. Kevin O’Connor takes over the program this year and brings enthusiasm and a style of play that could translate into plenty of wins on the Class AAAA level. O’Connor was in the process of turning Fort LeBoeuf around when the opportunity arose at McDowell. The Trojans will have a similar look to their roster but the style of play could completely change to a run and gun philosophy. McDowell lost only Luke Nientimp to graduation and has seen participation increase heavily since O’Connor’s hire. Senior Carson Lewis is back to lead the offense after being voted to the all-region second team last year. Juniors Michael Beck and Dalton Grafius could make up one of the toughest scoring combinations in the area, while Josh Santillan could start as well. James Conner, a Pitt recruit in football, could play this season after not playing last year. He would bring a big-time presence in the paint and lots of speed for the Trojans. Andy Stromenger, Matt Hansen, Quinn Lewis, Jake Tarasovitch, Matt Orenick and Max Kerr could all be in the mix for playing time this year. Senior Jake Wolf could be in the starting lineup and provides leadership for the Trojans. Hansen and Tarasovitch’s speed could translate into playing time for both. McDowell has plenty of experience but buying into a new, up-tempo system will be key. With so many athletes, McDowell could turn to the style of Class AAAA WPIAL powers that sub in three, four or five at a time to keep the tempo up. Cathedral Prep is the obvious favorite in the region and district but McDowell could be right with the Ramblers at the end of the season.
7-8 Franklin tournament
12 Meadville 7:30
13 Strong Vincent 7:30
15 at Mercyhurst Prep 7:30
18 at Warren 7:30
20-21 Hollidaysburg tournament
27-28 McDowell tournament
2 at General McLane 7:30
8 Central Tech* 8:30
11 DuBois 7:30
12 Girard 2:30
18-19 MLK Showcase
24 Cathedral Prep* 7:30
26 at East 7:30
2 at Corry 7:30
4 at Perry 7:30
8 at Central Tech* 7:30
14 at Cathedral Prep* 8:30
*Region 7 games
Coach (season): Megan Fiala (1st season)
2011-12 overall record: 17-7
2011-12 region record (place): 6-0 (champion)
2011-12 playoff results: Defeated Central Tech 56-18 to win the District 10 Class AAAA championship. McDowell then lost to Upper St. Clair 57-42 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Top players lost: Kaitlyn Fromknecht, Fallon Cosgrove, Taylor Lindquist, Maddie Miller, Nicole DiLuzio, Courtney McManigle
Top returning players: Hailey Wilwohl, Bri Krysiak
Assistant coaches: Rand Garrity, Tori Hansen, Elisha Pancoast
Outlook: McDowell will look almost brand new this season. Megan Fiala takes over the program as head coach the Trojans graduated six of their top nine players. Kaitlyn Fromknecht, Fallon Cosgrove, Taylor Lindquist, Maddie Miller, Nicole DiLuzio and Courtney McManigle are gone to graduation and each of the six leaves a big hole to fill. Fromknecht, the Region 7 Player of the Year, along with Lindquist, Miller and Cosgrove were voted to the all-region first team as seniors. The group won several District 10 Class AAAA championships together and leave McDowell with almost no experience back this year. The Trojans could rely heavily on senior Hailey Wilwohl. She was voted to the all-region second team as a junior and saw plenty of varsity minutes last year. She will look to step up as a leader at the point guard position, while Angela Aronica, Bri Krysiak and Caryn Kopay are also back. Both saw some playing time on the varsity level last year. Fiala commented that she has a solid group to work with this year which has plenty of potential. The Trojans have put in plenty of work in the offseason and they could be a surprise team despite the severe lack of experience. McDowell should be able to survive in a down region and could repeat as the D-10 Class AAAA champion. The Trojans’ success beyond that point will come down to how quickly the younger players adjust to their amplified roles on the varsity level.
7-8 North Allegheny tournament
10 Jamestown (N.Y.) 7:30
14 Fort LeBoeuf 7:30
15 Girard 2:30
17 at Harbor Creek 7:30
20-21 Hollidaysburg tournament
27-28 McDowell tournament
3 Central Tech* 7:30
5 at Warren 2:30
10 at Strong Vincent* 7:30
12 Villa Maria 7:30
19 Rochester East (MLK Showcase)
24 at East* 7:30
28 at Central Tech* 7:30
2 at Corry 6
7 Strong Vincent* 7:30
9 Villa Angela-St. Joseph 2:30
14 East* 7:30
16 at Mercyhurst Prep 7
*Region 7 games
Santillan started the season as a key reserve off the bench for McDowell. The 6-foot 2-inch junior guard/forward earned more playing time as the season went on and even cracked the starting lineup at one point for the Trojans.
This past week, Santillan erupted for 28 points in a 76-63 Region 8 win over George Junior.
Santillan is McDowell’s fourth-leading scorer at 6.5 points per game and could once again be a key player during his senior season.
Cosgrove can be a matchup problem for most opposing teams. It’s not that the 5-foot 7-inch senior guard is an unguardable scorer or big rebounder.
In fact, Cosgrove doesn’t have a defined role for the Trojans. She just plays hard. From finding a little space on the baseline for a jumper or boxing out girls four inches taller than her, Cosgrove does a little bit of everything for McDowell.
In an impressive 60-52 win over North East on Feb. 1, Cosgrove, who averages 8.5 points per game, dropped in 20 for the Trojans.
The Trojans have battled some of the top teams in the area this winter and Carson Lewis made sure they wouldn’t fall to upstart Warren.
Lewis drilled a 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation to force overtime against the Dragons. McDowell went on to win 52-50 to pick a solid non-region win.
Lewis, a 5-foot 10-inch junior, is averaging 10 points per game for the Trojans and is a leader on the floor from the point guard position.
Coach (season, record): Kraig Hetz (6th season at McDowell, 24th season overall, 91-35 at McDowell, 365-199 overall)
2010-11 overall record: 17-9
2010-11 region record (place): 3-3 (tied for second)
2010-11 playoff results: Defeated Strong Vincent 63-47 and lost to Cathedral Prep in the District 10 Class AAAA playoffs. McDowell then defeated Upper St. Clair 53-38 in a PIAA play-in game before losing to Gateway 57-46 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Top players lost: Colin Kimball, Bobby Roach, Zach Mayr, Andy Milloy, Martin Oduho, Kevin Stoicovy
Top returning players: Chris Miller, Luke Nientimp
Assistant coaches: Randy Garrity, Cliff Beck
Outlook: McDowell will give new meaning to the word rebuilding with its top six players from last year gone to graduation. The Trojans lost its starting five in Colin Kimball, Bobby Roach, Zach Mayr, Andy Milloy and Martin Oduho to graduation including key reserve Kevin Stoicovy. The Trojans have plenty of playing time to compete for, which should lead to some intense competition in camp. Chris Miller and Luke Nientimp saw playing time last year and are among the favorites to lock up a starting job this winter. McDowell has an interesting start to its schedule with a tough trip to the Hempfield tournament before non-region games against Girard, East, Central Tech, Mercyhurst Prep and an appearance in its own Christmas tournament. The Trojans have a tough region to play in and more challenging non-region games in the second half of the season. McDowell definitely has one of the toughest overall schedules in District 10.
9-10 Hempfield tournament
13 at Girard 7:30
15 East 7:30
22 at Central Tech 7:30
27-28 McDowell tournament
3 Mercyhurst Prep 7:30
6 Strong Vincent* 7:30
10 George Junior* 7:30
15 Rochester East (N.Y.) 6
18 at Cathedral Prep* 8:30
20 at Altoona 7:30
21 at State College 1:30
24 at Warren 7:30
28 New Day Academy 2:30
31 at Franklin 7:30
3 at Strong Vincent* 7:30
7 General McLane 7:30
10 at Corry 7:30
14 at George Junior* 7:30
17 Cathedral Prep* 7:30
Coach (season, record): Tami Gillette (3rd season, 28-22)
2010-11 overall record: 14-11
2010-11 region record (place): 6-0 (champion)
2010-11 playoff results: Defeated Strong Vincent 67-23 and East 58-32 to win the District 10 Class AAAA championship. McDowell then lost 61-42 to Bethel Park in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
Top players lost: Leah Krause, Maddie Hahesy
Top returning players: Maddie Miller, Taylor Lindquist, Kaitlyn Fromknecht, Fallon Cosgrove, Hailey Wilwohl
Assistant coaches: Shelly Respecki, Nicole Ross, Will Pituch
Outlook: McDowell has one of the more experience groups back in District 10 this season. The Trojans lost starter Maddie Hahesy to graduation, a first-team all-region selection, along with standout Leah Krause, who was out for most of the year with an injury. The Trojans have four starters back, including Maddie Miller, Kaitlyn Fromknecht, Taylor Lindquist and Fallon Cosgrove. Hailey Wilwohl, who saw varsity action last year, is also back. Miller and Fromknecht were second-team all-region picks last year, while Lindquist was first team. All three are leaders for McDowell this winter. Cosgrove filled in for an injured Krause admirable with 6.3 points per game. Fromknecht averaged 9.4 points and 8 rebounds per game and is a force inside the paint. Lindquist might be the move improved player over the last few years and could emerge as one of the top players in the area this winter. McDowell has a tough early-season schedule. Despite going to the North Allegheny tournament, the Trojans will take on Villa Maria in the first round, while also playing Mercyhurst Prep, Harbor Creek and General McLane early on. McDowell also has interesting non-region games lined up with North East and Corry as well as a game at Fort LeBoeuf and former assistant coach Beth Kraus. The Trojans should win their region and district championships once again but McDowell will need to develop some depth to make a run in the state playoffs.
9-10 North Allegheny tournament
14 Mercyhurst Prep 7:30
16 Harbor Creek 7:30
19 at General McLane 7:30
21-22 Hollidaysburg tournament
29-30 McDowell tournament
5 at Fort LeBoeuf 7:30
7 Altoona 3:30
13 State College 5
14 St. Marys 3
15 Aquinas Institute (N.Y.) 4:30
20 at Central Tech* 7:30
23 East* 7:30
26 at Strong Vincent* 7:30
1 North East 7:30
4 Corry 2:30
9 Central Tech* 7:30
13 at East* 7:30
16 Strong Vincent* 7:30
– Tom Reisenweber