George Guido: Freeport coach shows grace in PIAA loss to North Catholic

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 5:41 PM


When you feel you see history unfolding before your eyes, your mind can go in many different directions.

That was the case Saturday afternoon at Kiski Area High School when Freeport led Class 4A powerhouse North Catholic for more than a half.

How would an upset fare from a historical aspect? When did the Freeport girls pull off a similar upset? When was a bigger PIAA upset? The McDowell boys coming from 18 back in the fourth quarter to beat New Castle in 1999? The Hickory boys upsetting Schenley in 1966? From a local standpoint, the Deer Lakes girls beating Bishop Guilfoyle in triple overtime in the 1985 semifinals?

But, alas. Just as Freeport had taken a 36-28 lead with 4 minutes, 40 seconds to go in the third period, it was like North Catholic’s Tess Myers and Kylie Lewandowski said, “OK, that’s enough.”

The Trojanettes went on a 30-4 run, and that was that. Myers finished with 22 points, Lewandowski with 18.

After the game, Freeport coach Fred Soilis reacted philosophically. The Yellowjackets played as well as they could. Not he, nor the Freeport fans, could ask for anything more. The shots that fell in the first half just didn’t fall in the second half.

“We got looks, the ball just didn’t fall for us,” Soilis said. “They brought out the best in us.”

Just like former Deer Lakes coach Don Favero, who engineered the 1985 run that brought the Alle-Kiski Valley its only state girls basketball title to date, always said: it’s the relationships made.

Said Soilis: “I told my kids it’s all about the relationships. Wins or losses? I couldn’t tell you what my career record is. It’s about the relationships with coaches, with you guys (the media), players, parents. Where am I going? I’m a lawyer, not a basketball coach. This is what I like to do.”

By day, Soilis is an attorney with the Pittsburgh firm Caroselli Beachler & Coleman.

As an athlete in the early 1980s at Riverview, he learned well from Raiders football coach Chuck Wagner, basketball coach Jack Schmitt and athletic director Jake Cappa.

Freeport was seeking its first PIAA playoff victory since defeating Tussey Mountain in the 2004 opening round.

As for North Catholic, the Trojanettes will continue their march toward a potential date Wednesday night in Hershey with a second-round game against Central Valley at 6 p.m. at North Hills Middle School.

105-year drought ends

If you think your school has endured a title-winning drought, just consider Crothersville, Ind., High School.

After 105 years, Crothersville’s boys basketball program finally can claim a section title. The Tigers posted their historic win last weekend against West Washington, 57-51.

The long-awaited victory came under coach Greg Kilgore, a 1985 Crothersville graduate.

“This old guy has waited 52 years,” Kilgore joked with media members after the game. “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, through heartbreaks and near misses.”

Crothersville is located in southern Indiana, about 40 miles north of Louisville, Ky.

Highlands on TV

Last Friday’s Highlands state playoff game against Harbor Creek can see seen at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Comcast Channel 190 in the A-K Valley area.

As for Tuesday’s game against Grove City, the Golden Rams will be back on Channel 190 at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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