We're roughly one third of the way through the high school basketball season, having recently completed the non-conference slate. Now we're moving into the first lap around section schedules, starting with a busy night of games on Thursday.
But before we get there, let's take a look at who has performed above expectations, at a level many expected or below expectations.
I will have a story in Thursday's print edition on two teams that fit into the final category ... though you'll have to wait and see which ones. Here we go, Organized by section:
Canon-McMillan -- EVEN. Big Macs lost pretty much everyone 'cept for G Brett Haney, though he did lead the team in scoring. Losses to Bethel Park and USC put Big Macs at 1-2 (5-5 overall), scuffling for the final playoff spot.
Peters Township -- BELOW. A lot back, plenty of depth. But Indians have suffered close, frustrating losses to Mt. Lebanon and Trinity. Free throw shooting and late-game execution have to improve.
Trinity -- ABOVE. Christian Koroly has been one of the area's best, averaging more than 20 ppg. Five returning starters. Three wins at the KSA Classic in Florida. Beat Lebo by 21. Nine-point loss to Butler on 12/28 was perplexing.
Ringgold -- BELOW. Rams opened with an 18-point win over Charleroi, then ... crickets. Seven straight losses, three in section.
South Fayette -- ABOVE. Loss of Zach Challingsworth early didn't hurt. Evan Bonnaure carried 'em. Chally is back, getting in shape, and the Lions discovered it had a stud at PG in Bonnaure.
McGuffey -- BELOW. Taking cues from Ringgold, four straight wins, then ... more crickets. Five straight losses. Soft non-section schedule won't help in tough 5-AAA that includes Montour, Char Valley and Keystone Oaks.
Waynesburg -- EVEN. Raiders aren't at Char Valley's level, and that's OK; few are. Closed EQT Classic strong with 11-point win over Saltsburg.
Washington -- ABOVE. Prexies are an egg laid at Indiana away from perfection, sporting a 2-0, 7-1 record. Josh Wise has been darn near unstoppable, and there's a ton of depth.
Burgettstown -- ABOVE. Blue Devils are a solid club. 6-4, 300-pound center Josh Mack is huge ... and can play. Fourth spot in this section will come down to B'town/Fort Cherry/Brentwood and Char-Houston.
Fort Cherry -- EVEN. Rangers have played a tough non-section slate: Serra Catholic, Quigley, Quaker Valley, OLSH, Central Valley. Those are five of their six losses, to teams that are a combined 33-10.
Chartiers-Houston -- EVEN. Bucs lost four of five starters are 0-3 in section. Need more from PG Shayne Murphy, whose points per game has dropped from 13.5 to 8.9 (-4.6).
California -- EVEN. But darn good. Two of three returning starters, Tanner Huffman and Brian Fisher, haven't disappointed. The third, Evan Patterson, has adding scoring to his game. Trojans are 3-0, 7-1, with lone loss coming to a red hot Steel Valley team that has won five straight.
Charleroi -- EVEN. Three starters back, 3-0 in section, though they were against three of the bottom five teams. Big test Friday when the Cougars host Brownsville (2-1, 5-2).
Beth-Center -- EVEN/BELOW. Tough to give too much credit for wins over Mapletown (1-7), Frazier (1-6) or Jefferson-Morgan (4-6). And the BELOW part came during the Carmichaels Christmas tournament, when the Bulldogs lost to Mapletown and J-M.
Bentworth -- EVEN. Very young team has been inconsistent. At 2-1, 4-4 not out of it, but was also blown out (by 52!) by Charleroi. Pedestrian wins over Avella, Mapletown, West Greene and Frazier ... nobody with a winning record.
Jefferson-Morgan -- ABOVE. 0-3 in section, I know. But the win over Beth-Center was a step in the right direction, and the Rockets, like a few others in this section, are playing Class AA ball with Class A enrollment.
West Greene -- BELOW. This is tough. Can't say EVEN because that would imply the expectation was to go winless, but like J-M, having the Pioneers in Class AA doesn't make much sense to me.
Carmichaels -- ABOVE. Mikes are one win away from reaching last year's total of eight. Are also allowing just 40.5 ppg. Six of those seven wins have been against Class AA teams.
Avella -- BELOW. Yes, Joe Yamber is gone, and that hurts. But five of the Eagles' six losses have been by 27 or more points.
Mapletown -- EVEN. Maples are 2-20 the past two years, 1-7 this year. They are coming off a 42-21 victory over Beth-Center in the Carmichaels t0urnament. See if they can build some momentum in the second half.
Monessen -- BELOW. Joe Salvino loves to play a tough non-conference schedule, but this year the Greyhounds may have been bitten off more than they can chew ... 1-8, lone win a forfeit over Imani Christian. Good news is it should help a lot come section play.