Superstar: Rodney Gallagher
Laurel Highlands basketball player, Rodney Gallagher, celebrates after defeating Mars in the WPIAL 5A Boys Basketball championship game on February 28, 2020.
SOURCE: Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Some people are just naturally born athletic, and Rodney Gallagher might be one of those people. I doubt anyone would blame you if you call Rodney a "superstar". He is playing basketball like a superstar and helped carry a Laurel Highlands basketball team, that had a total of four wins last year, to a WPIAL championship this year.
His Mustangs were ranked eighth heading into this year's WPIAL 5A Boys Basketball tournament and he had some very impressive wins in the playoffs over teams such as Hampton (a well-known basketball school), Penn Hills (ranked #1 in WPIAL 5A heading into the postseason), Thomas Jefferson, and Mars (the defending WPIAL champs).
Some people get nervous when doing things under pressure in front of a lot of people. Rodney had to face a lot of pressure under a lot of people. With his team trailing 51-50 with 0:04 left in the fourth quarter, Rodney was fouled by a Mars basketball player which sent Rodney to shoot a 1-and-1. He made the first basket and the second basket to help his team win the game. Let me remind you, if he misses the first basket, Mars maybe would have won the game because Rodney would not have had an opportunity to shoot the second free throw. The thing that caught my attention was that both of Rodney's free-throws went straight into the net and did not hit the backboard or the rim. That's when I learned that Rodney was born to play basketball and had a clutch gene inside of him.
You can ask anyone that has knowledge in WPIAL basketball, and they would probably tell you that he or she could expect Rodney to lead Laurel Highlands to a WPIAL basketball championship in the future, but not during his freshman year! It was truly a Cinderella story for this team, they were ranked eighth going into the WPIAL playoffs, and ended up as champions! Penn Hills, Mars, and Thomas Jefferson all had byes in the first round and Laurel Highlands was able to defeat all three of these teams in the WPIAL playoffs when it was do or die.
I'm going to tell you right now that you will hear more of Rodney's name as he gets older and becomes an upperclassman in high school. More people are going to know his name as Rodney even knows NBA superstar, LeBron James. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, Tyler Boyd, showed up at the Petersen Events Center on Friday to watch Rodney play.
Ethan Morton helped lead Butler to the WPIAL 6A Boys basketball championship on February 29th as they defeated Mt. Lebanon by a score of 70-61. Morton is a senior at Butler who will play NCAA Division 1 Men's basketball at Purdue University next year. If you ever go to a Butler basketball game, you can see that a lot of people go to the games to watch Morton play. Like, he draws attention and the point I am going to make is that definitely next year Laurel Highlands Boys basketball games are going to be filled with fans, no matter where Laurel Highlands plays at, because they got a superstar in Rodney Gallagher.
Laurel Highlands will now play in the PIAA 5A Boys basketball playoffs which will begin sometime in the next week. When you think of big time WPIAL basketball stars, names like Terrelle Pryor, T.J. McConnell, Phil Jurkovec, Ethan Morton, or Cam Johnson might come to your mind. Rodney's name is about to be on that list of big time WPIAL basketball stars.
Rodney has been getting offers from colleges to play sports. He got an offer in late January to play NCAA Division 1 football at William & Mary while also receiving offers from Rhode Island and the University of Illinois to play NCAA Division 1 Men's basketball. In the next three years, get ready to see Rodney Gallagher get more attention from the media, and get more offers to play sports in college. If you want to run away from him when reading about him online, let me tell you, it will be hard to not see him.
Brentaro Yamane: email@example.com and Twitter @BYHilton13