Alle-Kiski Valley high school notebook: Apollo-Ridge pursues girls basketball coach

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024 | 9:14 PM


Apollo-Ridge School District and its athletics department are continuing the process that will lead to the hiring of a new girls basketball coach.

Athletic director John Skiba confirmed Wednesday that those hoping to apply for the open position can send resumes to skibaj@apolloridge.com by May 31.

Jeff Zelonka, an Apollo-Ridge graduate and teacher in the district, stepped down after the season.

He also is an assistant football coach with the Vikings in the fall.

“The biggest thing, I think, for him was that he went straight from football to basketball, and I don’t know if he realized at first how much of a time restraint that was going to be on him,” Skiba said.

“He also has two young girls, one in seventh grade and one in fifth grade, so it is a struggle to see their activities when you have two seasons back-to-back. He wanted to have more time with his family right now, and I think that weighed on his decision.

“Jeff came in to the girls program this year and really helped solidified some things. He gave the program a good foundation for what everyone hopes happens moving forward. We all understand why he made that decision.”

Apollo-Ridge went 8-14 overall in 2023-24 and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs with a 4-6 mark in Section 3-3A. The Vikings fell to eventual WPIAL runner-up Avonworth in the first round.

Valley seeks basketball coaches

The New Kensington-Arnold School District also is seeking those who are interested in coaching either the Valley varsity boys or girls basketball teams as both positions currently are vacant after the postseason resignations of Vikings boys coach Ed Jenkins and girls coach Marta Regus.

According to a posting on the WPIAL website, the deadline to apply is Friday, but applications will be accepted beyond Friday.

Applicants are asked to submit a resume to Tracy Fleeger at tfleeger@nkasd.com or 707 Stevenson Boulevard, New Kensington, PA, 15068.

Jenkins, also a Valley assistant football coach, served one season as the boys basketball head coach. The Vikings finished 5-15 overall and in fifth place in Section 3-3A at 3-9.

Regus coached the Valley girls for three seasons. Inexperience and lower roster numbers conspired against the Vikings in 2023-24 to the tune of an 0-20 overall record and an 0-12 mark in a rugged Section 1-4A.

Leechburg extends streak

The Leechburg softball team finished fourth in Section 1-3A with a 6-6 record, and that was good enough to put it in the WPIAL playoffs for a WPIAL-record 37th year in a row.

Leechburg secured fourth by two games over Bishop Canevin, which it swept in a doubleheader April 29.

The Blue Devils also beat playoff-bound Monessen, as well as St. Joseph and Springdale, and picked up a forfeit win over the Dynamos.

Leechburg is one of nine softball teams that will represent the Alle-Kiski Valley in the WPIAL playoffs.

Knoch (Section 1-4A, 8-2), Burrell (Section 1-3A, 7-3) and Apollo-Ridge (Section 2-2A, 7-3) finished runner-up in their sections.

Also securing berths to WPIALs are Plum (Section 1-5A, third, 7-3), Fox Chapel (Section 1-5A, fourth, 4-6), Highlands (Section 1-4A, tie-fourth, 3-7), Freeport (Section 1-3A, tie-third, 6-4), and Deer Lakes (Section 1-3A, tie-third, 6-4).

The softball pairings are to be released Thursday afternoon, and baseball will be released Friday.

Baseball teams qualify

Fox Chapel and Plum split their Section 1-5A series Monday and Tuesday, and both finished in a rare four-way tie for the section title with Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional at 9-3. All four teams were 3-3 against the other three.

Valley won the outright Section 3-3A title with a 9-3 record, and Burrell tied for second in the section at 8-4. The Vikings and Bucs split an early-season series at the end of March.

Also punching tickets to WPIALs are Kiski Area (Section 4-4A, third, 5-5), Knoch (Section 4-4A, fourth, 4-6), Riverview (Section 3-2A, third, 8-4), Leechburg (Section 2-1A, third, 8-4), and Springdale (Section 2-1A, fourth, 5-7).

WPIAL track and field finals

The Knights finished 1-2 overall against Quaker Valley, Fort Cherry and Shenango on Tuesday afternoon at Peters Township.

The Quakers completed a sweep to earn their third straight WPIAL title. In that, QV topped Knoch, 85-65.

The Knights went down to the wire with Fort Cherry for second, and the Rangers won 76-74. Knoch topped Shenango, 81-69.

“It was a heartbreaker to be so close to second,” Knoch coach Amy Formica said.

Knights junior Kara Fennell set a school record with a winning attempt of 11 feet, 2 inches in the pole vault.

Fox Chapel tennis falls

The Foxes saw their season come to an end Monday with a 3-2 loss to North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class 3A boys tennis semifinals at Sewickley Academy.

Fox Chapel, the No. 4 seed for WPIALs after winning the Section 3 title with a 6-0 record, earned a spot in the semifinals with a 5-0 win over No. 18 Moon in the first round and a 3-2 triumph over No. 5 Mt. Lebanon.

Unlike in Class 2A, which qualifies four teams to the PIAA tournament, only two in Class 3A qualify, so the Foxes did not play a third-place consolation.

Fox Chapel caps its season at 11-3 overall.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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