Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cornell Matures into Wpial Contender High School Boys Basketball

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cornell Matures into Wpial Contender High School Boys Basketball

Article excerpt

Three years ago, Bill Sacco knew he was going to have something special down the road.

A few freshmen caught the eye of the Cornell boys basketball coach and he immediately believed their potential would only benefit the program in the future.

"The truth is these kids have been with me and we've been grooming them, so we knew we were going to have a nice group this year," said Sacco, who has been coaching basketball for the past 40 years, including the past 10 seasons at Cornell. "We knew we'd be fairly competitive and hoped it would help us win games.

"It's still a long season and we have some key games ahead here. Yet, I still like how competitive we are; these kids are scrappy. They are putting in the hard work and I'm enjoying seeing their success."

No. 5 in last week's Post-Gazette Class A boys basketball rankings, Cornell picked up its first Section 1-A victory against Union last Friday, 64-51. After defeating Western Beaver, 61-54, Tuesday the Raiders are 10-1 overall and tied with Lincoln Park for first place in the section at 2-0. Lincoln Park plays at Cornell Friday night.

"We know Union always has a good team and we played well against them in the first half," said Sacco, who also is the school's athletic director. "We were able to get a nice lead in the first half and I think we overwhelmed them a little bit there."

Considering Cornell plays in one of the most competitive sections in Class A, along with No. 1 Lincoln Park (8-2, 2-0) and No. 3 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (10-1, 1-1), Sacco understands how important section games will be this season for his Raiders.

"This is a tough section and real competitive," he said. "I don't think anyone is going to beat up on anyone when you have to go against teams like Lincoln Park and OLSH.

"It's a tough league, so you have to go and try to steal some wins on the road. If you get at least two road wins you're making the playoffs. Our job is to try to win on the road."

Last season, Cornell went 5-5 in Section 1-A and finished the year 14-8 overall after losing to Clairton in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

"We expected to be pretty good this season," Sacco said. "We don't necessarily have the size, but heart-wise these kids love to play the game. …

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