George Guido: Aliquippa continues historic run of WPIAL championship appearances
Saturday, November 19, 2022 | 3:17 PM
While two WPIAL football finals were played Saturday, four more are slated for Acrisure Stadium on Friday.
In the Class 4A game, Aliquippa is in the finals for the 15th consecutive season and will face neighboring Central Valley. The last time Aliquippa didn’t make the finals was in 2007, when the Quips lost the highest-scoring playoff game ever, 70-48, against Jeannette at Golden Rams Stadium.
Central Valley High School didn’t even exist in 2008 when the Quips’ title-game streak began.
Of all the impressive accomplishments by Aliquippa football, the most impressive might be that the school hasn’t had a losing season since 1972.
Here’s another sidelight to Friday’s Acrisure action. Union is in the finals for the first time since 1973, when the Scotties lost to Springdale, 20-14. It is, to date, the only championship game ever held at Thomas Jefferson’s Jaguar Stadium.
The Dynamos grabbed a 20-0 lead in the first half and looked ready to cruise to the title. Union, however, rallied and was down 20-14 late. But Springdale’s Sam Sack intercepted two passes in the final four minutes to secure the victory.
Once again, kudos to Beaver County. There has been at least one Beaver County school in the WPIAL finals since 1997.
Don’t forget, there will be no television of any WPIAL title game. The only live presentation will be by the Triblive High School Sports Network. Just visit tribhssn.triblive.com.
Girls basketball decline
Whatever happened to girls basketball?
Data released by the National Federation of State High School Associations shows girls basketball has dropped from the first to the fourth-most popular female sport, participation-wise.
Girls hoops has fallen behind track and field, volleyball and soccer, experiencing a 19% drop since 2002. Participation has dropped 7% since 2019 in the first post-pandemic national survey.
In Nebraska, for example, girls basketball participation has dropped 28% since 2002.
Track and field for girls, in the meantime, has jumped 10% nationally, girls volleyball 15% and girls soccer a whopping 27%.
Coaches interviewed across the country have different opinions on the reasons for the decline, some citing specializing in one sport, while others talk about schools adding sports that are pulling girls away from basketball.
Several local schools have done away with junior varsity basketball because of the lack of numbers.
Even Burrell, in its heyday of several years ago, often lacked the girls needed to field a junior varsity team. Leechburg this coming year, reportedly, may not have enough girls to have an intrasquad scrimmage.
Springdale and Valley have had excruciatingly low numbers for girls basketball in the recent past, but those two schools appear to be on the upswing.
As many as 20% of WPIAL schools don’t have enough numbers for a girls junior varsity team.
Experts have weighed in on the problem, and one of the culprits is female athletes’ specialization.
Medical and orthopedic experts, which I am not, often have recommended playing different sports. Muscles used in different sports are better for the athlete, instead of just using the muscles surrounding a single sport.
Last season, there were 370,466 girls participating in high school basketball across the country. That’s down from the high-water mark of 435,885 in the 1998-99 school year.
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