Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pregame: California at Carmichaels

California (1-0, 9-1) at Carmichaels (1-0, 9-1), 7:30 p.m.

Last game: California beat Jefferson-Morgan, 39-38, on Jan. 3. Courtnee McMasters led the way with 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Tristen Conaway added 10 points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists. Natalie Baron had four points and nine rebounds.

Carmichaels earned a 55-40 win over West Greene on Jan. 3. Morgan Berardi had a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Amanda Brown added 21 points and 12 rebounds. The Mikes have won nine straight since a season-opening loss to Belle Vernon.

Up next: California hosts Section 3-A foe West Greene (0-1, 6-3) on Thursday. 

Carmichaels has a non-section game against Frazier (4-4) on Wednesday, the third time this season the Mikes will play the Commodores.

What to watch: Should be a great show between two of the area top players in Berardi and McMasters. Both put up ridiculous stats. Both are great defensive players, too.

The Mikes are dealing with the loss of Anna Cree, who's out for the season with a knee injury. Brown, a 5-9 junior center, has stepped into a larger role. Sophomore Caroline Cree has also been one of the Mikes' top players.

California, like Carmichaels, doesn't rely on one player; Conaway and Baron are more than capable complements to Berardi.

At this point, both Berardi and McMasters, along with McGuffey's Sammie Weiss, are on the short list of Player of the Year candidates.

Last year: California was just 5-17 overall, 2-10 in Section 4-A and did not make the playoffs. The Trojans last won a section title in 1982.

Carmichaels went 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Section 3-A to finish third behind Fort Cherry (12-0) and Chartiers-Houston (10-2). The Mikes lost to St. Joseph, 51-40, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.

The teams did not meet last season.

Coaches: California is led by Chris Minerd, Carmichaels by Jim Lane.

Analysis: California hasn't played a very tough non-section schedule; the Trojans biggest win so far was against 5-5 Yough, a 51-33 victory on Dec. 19.

California's lone less was a 60-26 decision to Brentwood in the first game of its own holiday tournament on Dec. 27.

Carmichaels beat West Greene by 15 and Charleroi (3-0 Section 5-AA, 7-1) by 13 on Dec. 21, the same game where Berardi reached 1,000 points for her career.

Given the fact that Carmichaels has played a slightly tougher schedule and has a little bit more experience playing big-time section games, I like the Mikes in this one. But I think its going to be one of the best games of the season so far.

Surely a pivotal one in Section 3-A race.

See you out there.

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