North Xtra: Title game a good experience for Hampton Talbots

March 8, 2012 12:01 am
  • Hampton's Collin Luther pulls down a rebound against New Castle in the WPIAL Class AAA final at the Palumbo Center Friday.
    Hampton's Collin Luther pulls down a rebound against New Castle in the WPIAL Class AAA final at the Palumbo Center Friday.
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The WPIAL Class AAA boys' basketball championship game on Friday night was the 22nd playoff game involving the Hampton basketball team in the past four seasons and its third WPIAL final in that time span.

Nonetheless this postseason run to the A.J. Palumbo Center has been an entirely new experience for many members of the team.

The Talbots start two seniors, two sophomores and a freshman. No one on the current roster played the last time Hampton was in the WPIAL finals.

Most of the team was in the bleachers watching as fans.

"It was a new experience with this group," said senior captain Mark Pilarski, who dressed for the WPIAL final in 2010. "It was a big moment for some of the younger guys."

Hampton went 14-0 to win the Section 1-AAA title and it fought through a tough Class AAA playoff bracket. The Talbots defeated Elizabeth Forward, Central Valley and Montour by margins of 8, 9 and 10 points, to set up a trip to the WPIAL final.

On Friday night, Hampton ran into an undefeated New Castle team which knocked them off, 57-44.

"Number one, they were excited," Hampton coach Joe Lafko said. "They were excited for the game and you could tell they were proud of their accomplishments and they understood how difficult it was to play in that game and to be a part of that environment. We just ran into a New Castle team that was better than us on Friday night."

Hampton now turns its attention to the PIAA playoffs where it will play District 10 runner-up Warren (19-6) on at 7:30 p.m. Friday at North Allegheny.

Warren is where Lafko started his high school coaching career in 1990, fresh out of college.

"Warren is where I cut my teeth," Lafko said as he reeled off a name of administrators at the school he was grateful for giving him a chance right out of Westminster College.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:35:42

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