MSA Sports Countdown of Top 25 WPIAL Stories of 2013 – 01/01/14

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014 | 10:26 PM


It has become a tradition like no other…at least during the holidays here at MSA Sports. It’s time to look back at another high school sports year with the top stories from around the WPIAL in 2013. We conclude our countdown with the five stories that ended up #5 through #1.

#5 – Section 3 Superiority

Everybody knew that WPIAL Class AAAA Section 3 in boys basketball was special. But the strength of the four postseason representatives ended up being historic.

#1 seed New Castle, #2-seed North Allegheny, #3-seed Hampotn and #12-seed Seneca Valley all advanced through the First Round…then through the Quarterfinals before making the Class AAAA Semifinals a personal Section 3 in-house tournament.

New Castle beat Latrobe & Gateway by a combined score of 172-119. North Allegheny beat Canon-McMillan & Fox Chapel by a combined score of 144-99. Hampton beat Mount Lebanon & McKeesport by a combined 124-111 score and Seneca Valley upset #5 Pittsburgh Central Catholic and #4 Upper St. Clair by a combined score of 116-75.

Section 1, Section 2 and Section 4 teams were no match for the Canes, Tigers, Talbots and Raiders.

Once into the Semfinals, the 2012 Class AAA Finalists prevailed to ensure a rematch for the Class AAAA championship as New Castle beat Seneca Valley 71-46 and Hampton disposed of North Allegheny in a tougher contest 66-62. The Red Hurricanes won the title over the Talbots 68-53 to cap off a postseason dominated by one section like never before.

#4 – The Sensational Smith

The pool gold and records kept coming for one outstanding area swimmer. Leah Smith of Oakland Catholic continued her dominance in the girls 500 yard freestyle at the WPIAL finals in late February. She set another record beating her score from 2011 at 4:39.78, besting her WPIAL and PIAA records from last year.

In March, Smith beat out two-time defending champion Meaghan Raab of Hershey in the 200-yard freestyle, then broke her own state record to capture gold in the 500-yard freestyle. The Viriginia Tech recruits winning mark of 4 minutes, 36.41 seconds was the second fastest time EVER by a female high school swimmer in the United States.

#3 – Lenny Leads the List

There were 10,000 reasons to like Lenny Williams at quarterback. Williams, a senior at Sto-Rox, became the all-time leading passer in WPIAL history in yards and touchdowns this past fall. But what has been lost in the passing numbers and records is the fact that Williams ended up with over 10,000 yards offense.

No other WPIAL player is known to have 10,000 yards offense in a career.

Williams has 7,799 yards passing and his rushing yardage puts him over 10,000. Williams passed for more than 2,000 and ran for more than 1,000 last year. This season, he threw for 2,709 yards and 34 touchdowns and also rushed for 551 yards.

As for throwing, Williams ended up throwing for 8,504 yards passing. Only six QBs in state history have thrown for 8,000 career yards. They are Matt Bodamer of Port Allegany, Derek Buganza of Brockway, Brendan Nosovitch of Allentown Central Catholic, Kyle Smith of Lancaster Catholic, Pat Devlin of Downingtown East and Tyler Smith of Wilson.

Incidentally, to show how much passing has increased in recent years, five of those six quarterbacks who passed for 8,000 yards graduated in the past five years. The only one who didn’t was Devlin, who graduated in 2006.

#2 – The Perfect Storm…Again

The New Castle boys basketball team made history with a win in the WPIAL Class AAAA boys basketball championship game in early March, becoming the first team in WPIAL history to win back-to-back titles with undefeated records. The Red Hurricane are also the first team to win back to back championships in different classifications.

The third meeting of the year between New Castle and Hampton turned out to be like the first two. In fact, it turned out a lot like the previous 25 games for the defending Triple-A champs turned Quad-A beasts. The Red Hurricane rocked the Talbots with a big second quarter and rolled to a 68-53 victory before a raucous crowd at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Things were quiet for the first two minutes of the game. Scoreless, even. Then, a Brandon Dominick three opened up the flood gates for New Castle. Ryan Luther answered for Hampton, scoring his team’s first five points. The Red Hurricane slowed things down to close out the quarter, and led 19-15 and the end of one.

The Talbots came out strong in the second quarter behind a big Ryan Luther dunk and pulled within one point. New Castle remained strong though, going on a 14-4 run to close out the half.  The Red Hurricane headed to the locker room ahead 36-22 and never looked back.

Foul trouble found Hampton in the third quarter, putting New Castle in the bonus with three minutes to go in the third quarter.  Collin Luther picked up his fourth foul for the Talbots, and was forced to the bench.  The Red Hurricane stretched their lead to 52-32 through three quarters.

Hampton senior Richard Ford saw some playing time in the fourth quarter, scoring nine quick points.  The Talbots would come within ten points before New Castle pulled away for good.  As the final buzzer sounded, the Red Hurricane claimed the gold with a 68-53 victory.

As a team, New Castle went 14-26 from the free throw line on the night.  The Red Hurricane were hot from beyond the arc, as well, hitting 11 times on the night, including Anthony Richards with four.

Ryan Luther led all scorers with 17 points.  Shawn Anderson led New Castle with 16 points.  Antonio Rudolph had 15 points, including three threes, and Anthony Richards chipped in 12 points for the Red Hurricane.

New Castle’s perfect season and hopes of a state title ended in the PIAA Semifinals when the Canes fell to Lower Merion 67-63.

#1 – The End of a Historic Run

In 2010, the Clairton win streak and championship run was gaining momentum and ended up #2 on our year in review list. The last two years, the Bears history making run of success was the #1 story. So it is for the third and final time.

‘The Streak’ came to an end in a Week 4 loss at home to the Clairton Bears 42-24. When all was said and done, the district AND state win streak record that lasted 66-games began on September 11, 2009 with a 46-0 shutout of Monessen and was ended by the Greyhounds on September 20, 2013.

The streak included three perfect seasons of 16-0, four Black Hills Conference championships, four additional WPIAL Class A crowns added on to the one they captured in 2008 and four straight PIAA state titles and was in the top ten of high school football winning streak ever in the United States. Streaks are made to be broken, but it might be a long, long time before ‘Bout Dat’ is erased from the district and state record books.

Then after finishing the regular season as Tri-Champs of the Class A Black Hills Conference with Monessen and Fort Cherry and beating Frazier and Fort Cherry in the first two rounds of the Class A playoffs, these Bears went into hibernation in Mid-November instead of Mid-December for the first time since 2007.

With a tip of the cap to the back and orange, we offer one final salute to a team that had a run of success for the ages. The Bears 66-game WPIAL and PIAA record win streak ended in September, but their loss that ended their season in the Semifinals to Sto-Rox snapped:
* A 22-game WPIAL win streak going back to a Semifinals loss to Springdale in the 2007 playoffs.
* A 30-game WPIAL and PIAA playoff win streak which started after they lost to Steelton-Highspire in the 2008 PIAA Finals.
* A record run of FIVE consecutive WPIAL football championships.
* A record-tying run of FOUR consecutive PIAA football championships.

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