In happy ending to bus saga, Penguins invite Monessen girls basketball team to game

Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | 6:55 PM

While Monessen turned down an offer from the Pittsburgh Penguins to pay for a coach bus for the girls basketball team’s first-round PIAA playoff game, there apparently were no hard feelings from the hockey team.

No penalty box for the Greyhounds.

On Monday, the Penguins invited Monessen players and coach Janine Vertacnik to be guests at PPG Paints Arena for a game against the Ottawa Senators.

There is yet another bus ride to the up-and-down story that has a happy ending.

While the Penguins lost, 2-1, Monessen still came home happy.

“They picked us up in a party bus, fed us great food, put us in a suite and made a monetary donation to our team,” Vertacnik said.

Here is the origin of a bus story that took a wide turn:

Monessen’s boosters initially put out a Facebook post asking for help paying for a bus. The Penguins reached out and offered to foot the bill.

In the meantime, the Monessen school board decided to pay for a bus itself for the team’s nearly four-hour trip to Otto-Eldred in District 9 near the New York border.

That meant politely declining the Penguins’ gesture.

The decision was met with a collective, “Huh?” from the team and community, who voiced their displeasure. The board claimed there was a breakdown in communication and that it had planned to provide a bus from the jump. Still, the frustration blew over, the team drove comfortably to and from Duke Center and enjoyed a fun night out as Penguins treated the Greyhounds like VIPs.

“People need to know how great of an organization they are,” Vertacnik said. “In spite of everything that happened, they still came through.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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