MSA Sports Countdown – Top 25 WPIAL Stories From 2014 – #10-#6

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 | 10:34 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 2014. We continue our countdown with the five stories that ended up #10 through #6.

{Left:  After winning a third PIAA individual wrestling title, Kittanning’s Jason Nolf accepts the Outstanding AA Wrestler trophy}

#10 – The Storm Ends

It was going to happen at some time this season that the New Castle Red Hurricanes boys basketball team would taste defeat. New Castle had an amazing run over the last three years, claiming consecutive WPIAL championships and finishing the run with a 31-0 season and a state title in March.

The winning streak of 33 in a row came to an end December 11th at the hands of the Hampton Talbots, a 87-67 victory for Hampton at the Ne-Ca-Hi Field House in front of a full house. Senior guard Joey Lafko led the way for the Talbots with 37 points as the Talbots led by nine at the end of the first quarter and never looked back. David Huber tossed in 13 as Hampton beat New Castle for the first time in ten tries, including the last three WPIAL championship games.

New Castle also saw a 70 game regular season unbeaten streak come to an end, the Canes had not lost since February 8th, 2011, a 58-54 loss at Blackhawk. Also coming to an end tonight was a 38 game winning streak at home and 49 straight against WPIAL opposition.

Hampton had not beaten New Castle since December 14th, 2010, a 53-46 victory for the Talbots on their home floor.

New Castle still has another streak still alive into 2015 has they have a section winning streak of 44 consecutive games.

#9 – Out of Hibernation

After a one year hiatus, the WPIAL Class A championship camed back to Clairton. The Bears improved to 13-0 and won their sixth district title in the last seven years with a convincing 46-14 triumph over the Avonworth Antelopes at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in November.

Super sophomore Lamont Wade rushed for 128 yards and scored two touchdowns while also picking off four passes. He ended up with 2,765 yards on the season with 47 touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Williams had a huge game throwing the ball, connecting on 16 of 24 passes for 301 yards and five touchdowns vs Avonworth. For the season, he finished with 3,037 yards passing and 40 touchdown tosses.

The Bears celebrated their 11th WPIAL football crown and seventh in nine years with a record breaking offense that averaged 59.9 points per game and shattered the WPIAL and PIAA record for points in a season with 958.

But the season did not end on a high note the Clairton.

The old saying is that defense wins championships and that was the case in the PIAA Class A State Championship on December 12th as the Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders shut down the Clairton Bears offense when it counted to claim a 19-18 victory at Hersheypark Stadium. The Bears entered the championship game averaging 62 points per game and had a chance of breaking a national scoring record. The win for Bishop Guilfoyle gave the Marauders a perfect 16-0 season and ended the Bears’ dreams, finishing at 15-1.

The Bears had two chance to win the game. After scoring in the opening minute of the final quarter, when Lamont Wade broke a 64 yard touchdown with some serious moves. The Bears would go for two and the win, but Harrison Dreher was ruled short of the goal line. Coach Wayne Wade said he thought Dreher scored by stretching the ball over the goal line, just one of several controversies with the officials on the afternoon.

The second came in the final two minutes, with a first and goal at the 10 yard line, Lamont Wade was held to just three yards on two plays. After an incomplere pass, Ryan Williams scrambled away from the BG defense and was able to find James Hines on the back line of the end zone. But Hines was not able to get a foot down after making a circus catch and the ball went over on downs to the Marauders, who were able to run out the clock.

On the final play of the game, Clairton was assessed a personal foul and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a brief fight broke out. Both team’s coaches and PIAA officials separated the teams and did not allow the post-game handshake line. Several of the Clairton starters came across the field and shook hands with the Bishop Guilfoyle players. An investigation into the game ending incident is on-going by Clairton school officials.

#8 – The Golden Girls

Much like football which had all four WPIAL champions advance to the PIAA state finals this fall, there was a large District 7 flavor to the PIAA state basketball finals this past spring in Hershey. Unlike the 1-3 showing in football though, there were plenty of golden moments for the district hoopers.

Six WPIAL teams made it to the basketball finals at the GIANT Center, and they were nearly perfect, going 5-1 with the lone loss coming when a game winning 3-point shot at the buzzer rimmed out for the Seton-LaSalle boys teams. Both New Castle in AAAA and Lincoln Park in A were able to capture elusive state championships.

But it was the play of the WPIAL girls that will be remembered by many and they went three for three on championship weekend in chocolate town.

The Blackhawk Cougars used a dominant third quarter to claim their first PIAA girls Class AAA title since 2000 and third in school history by defeating Archbishop Wood 51-43 at the Giant Center on Saturday night. Chassidy Omogrosso scored 26 points and allowed the Cougars to stay in the game in the first half.

Omogrosso, then a junior, added 3 steals and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the line. Denman scored 13 points and led the Cougars with 8 rebounds and 4 steals. Blackhawk was 14 of 42 for 33 percent from the field, with two three-pointers. The Cougars made the night at the line, going 21 of 24, Blackhawk turned the ball over just 6 times, three in each half.

Blackhawk finished 28-2, the WPIAL champions won 13 straight games. The Cougars’ only losses came to Central Valley in the first half of section play and Class AA WPIAL and PIAA champion Seton LaSalle.

Speaking of Seton LaSalle, the Rebels (as noted in #15 of our countdown) won their third PIAA girls basketball championship and second in three years with a 58-50 win over the Neumann-Goretti Saints.

In Class A, the second trip was the charm for Ron Moncrief and the Vincentian Academy Royals. Vincentian fell to Tri-Valley 59-42 in the return for PIAA basketball at the Giant Center in 2013, but the Royals finished 2014 in a big way, beating Old Forge 58-34 to win the second PIAA girls basketball championship in school history.

Junior Brenna Wise dominated the first quarter, scoring 12 of her game-high 21 points in the first eight minutes. Wise hit a three late in the quarter that put Vincentian Academy up 18-9 after one. Vincentian Academy led 27-10 but some sloppy play and fouls led to 6 straight free throws for the Blue Devils and a 27-16 deficit at the break.

The Royals pulled away for good in the third, Maia Joiner nailed back to back threes, then Kayla Key took after, with 6 of 8 points coming on consecutive baskets. The Royals led 47-27 at the end of the quarter and hit the gas in the fourth for the win.

Wise added 11 rebounds and nailed a pair of threes in the first to her cause. She also had 5 assists, 5 blocks and 3 steals for an all-around game. Joiner scored 11 points. Key dished out 3 assists. Kiersten Elliott scored 6 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Vincentian Academy was 22 of 50 for the game at 44 percent with 5 three-pointers. The Royals were just 9 of 19 from the foul line and only committed 8 turnovers. Vincentian Academy ended the season at 27-3, winning their last 11 games.

It was the most successful state basketball playoffs EVER for WPIAL girls with the three championships. Nine times since the first PIAA gilrs basketball postseason in 1873, District 7 girls hoops teams came home with two state hoop titles, including South Park and Bishop Canevin in 2013.

#7 – Shutout from Happy Valley

As noted above, it was a great run through the PIAA playoffs for WPIAL teams in basketball and football in 2014. Not so much for their spring brethren in baseball and softball.

For the first time since 1979, no WPIAL baseball or softball team makes it to a PIAA state championship game.

The WPIAL sent twelve baseball teams in the four round PIAA playoffs in June, including district champions Seneca Valley, West Allegheny, Steel Valley and California. The twelve were a combined 3-9 in the First Round with Class AA going 0-3. Only Seneca Valley in AAA survived the Quarterfinals and the Raiders season ended with a 3-2 loss to Conestoga.

The twelve softball teams from the WPIAL that qualified for the PIAA state playoffs, including champions Shaler, Thomas Jefferson, Beaver and Neshannock, had better results in Round One going a combined 6-6. However only Greensburg-Salem in AAA and Neshannock in A made it to the state Semifinals…where they both lost. The Golden Lions fell 3-2 to Springfield while the Lancers fell to Claysburg-Kimmel 5-4.

#6 – King of Kittanning

There have been a lot of great milestones in the wrestling career of Kittanning senior Jason Nolf. He added to his milestones when he was able to join a special group of wrestlers in February, when he became the 23rd WPIAL wrestler to ever win 4 WPIAL Championships.

Nolf earned his fourth title in dominating fashion at 145 pounds. He won by a pair of falls over George Rogers of Washington and Austin Mears of Mount Pleasant to put him into the finals against Beth-Center’s Tony Welsh. In the finals, Nolf jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead before turning Welsh and pinning him in 1:22.

Then it was onto the PIAA postseason and the search for state gold for Nolf. After winning two matches by fall and one by a major decision to get into the finals, Nolf wasted no time and picking up his third straight state title. After a takedown within the first ten seconds, Nolf allowed an escape to his opponent, Billy Barnes of Williamson, to make the score 2-1. But then it was Nolf who got in deep on a shot and leaned in to Barnes, putting him on his back and pinning Barnes in 1:42. For his dominating performance, Nolf was awarded the outstanding wrestler award of the AA tournament. Nolf ended his high school career with a record of 176-1 with 3 state championships. He attends Penn State University.



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