MSA Sports Top 25 WPIAL Stories From 2015 Countdown: #10 – #1
Friday, January 1, 2016 | 1:09 AM
It has become a tradition like no other...at least during the holiday season here at MSA Sports. Here is a look back at another great high school sports year with the top stories from around the WPIAL in 2015. We conclude our countdown with #10 through #1.
#10 - GOLDEN TRIBE
It wasn't Hoosiers, but it came awfully close to a Hollywood script as unheralded Indiana High School beat tradition rich Beaver Falls on a last second shot to win the schools first ever WPIAL boys basketball championship in an instant classic at The Pete in late February. The fifth-seed Little Indians beat defending champion Central Valley, Highlands and Ambridge to make it to their first title game vs second-seed Beaver Falls. The Little Indians rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter and forced a jump ball with the arrow giving them possession down by one with 20 seconds left. Then Dylan Stapleton appeared to lose his dribble, but maintained control of the basketball and pushed a pass to brother Riley who laid the ball in with 1.5 seconds left to cap off a win for the ages. The Little Indians returned to Indiana to a heroes welcome and a first ever district crown.
#9 - HOME, SWEET HOME
From 2003 through 2008, the Thomas Jefferson Jaguars qualified for six straight trips to Heinz Field to play in the WPIAL Class AAA title game. TJ won in four of those championship contests. However now Aliquippa can lay claim to Heinz Field and a spot in the finals as being part of their yearly schedule. In 2015, the Quips made it to the Class AA title game a record eighth consecutive season and a third straight meeting against South Fayette. The third time was a charm for the Quips as the beat the Lions 44-38 in a thriller. The win gave the Quips their record 16th WPIAL football crown and left them an even 4-4 over their eight year run of title games. Aliquippa then won two PIAA playoff games to advance to Hershey. However the Quips fell to Southern Columbia, missing out on a chance for a third state title and a chance to become the first team in Beaver County history to finish a perfect 16-0.
#8 - FEARSOME FRANKLIN FOURSOME
While Franklin Regional captured a second straight WPIAL Class AAA team championship in January, it was what four members of the team did in individual action that was record setting. Four Panthers - Devin Brown, Spencer Lee, Michael Kemerer and Josh Shields won WPIAL and PIAA championships. In winning four state titles, Franklin Regional became only the sixth school in PIAA history to have four individual champions. The Panthers 4-for-4 effort was part of a magical weekend in Hershey as WPIAL wrestlers were a perfect 9-for-9 in Class AAA.
#7 - THE GOLDEN GIRLS
With the graduation of some key players possibly marking the end of an incredible run the last few years for three dominant WPIAL girls basketball teams. First, Brenna Wise finished off a golden career in leading Vincentian Academy to four straight WPIAL and back-to-back PIAA Class A championships. The duo of Cassidy Walsh and Nicolete Newman helped Seton-LaSalle win back-to-back Class AA WPIAL titles and four crowns in the last five years along with state titles in 2012 and 2014. Finally, Chassidy Omogrosso and the Blackhawk Cougars captured back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA crowns.
#6 - DIVING FOR GOLD
Maria Lohman finished her scholastic career at Chartiers Valley High School as one of the most decorated divers in WPIAL history. In February, she captured a fourth straight WPIAL diving crown with a score of 603.50, over one hundred points better than the runner-up Mallory Charles of Pine-Richland who finished with 470.55 points. Lohman then went on to win her third straight PIAA girls AAA state diving crown with a narrow victory over Marie Yacopino of North Penn.
#5 - FABULOUS FRASCHETTI
One of the best pitchers in WPIAL history dominated the district landscape and beyond in previous years in Brendan McKay, who had a great freshman season at Louisville. However, the performance by Neshannock right hander Frank Fraschetti this past spring was mind-boggling. Overall for the season, he was 10-1 with one save. He pitched 85 1/3 innings and struck out 103. He had a 1.31 ERA. His lone blemish came in a 1-0 loss to Seton-LaSalle in the third game of the year. But it was in the playoffs where he really stood out. Fraschetti was unbeatable in the postseason, finishing 5-0 and giving up only 22 hits and four runs in 43 1/3 innings. He also became the first pitcher to ever throw shutouts in both the WPIAL and PIAA championship games, blanking Quaker Valley 4-0 at CONSOL Energy Park and then throwing up goose eggs against Neumann-Goretti in a 9-0 victory at Penn State University to lead the Lancers to their fifth district title and second state crown.
#4 - McCONNELL MAGIC
Saturday, February 28th, 2015. What a night for the McConnell family and for Chartiers Valley. After a sluggish first half in which the Colts fell behind top-seed North Allegheny 43-33 in the WPIAL boys Quad-A basketball title game, CV orchestrated one of the great turnarounds for the ages. Capped off by a half court buzzer beater by senior Matty McConnell, the Colts outscored the Tigers 24-6 in the third en route to a 78-67 triumph. The night was golden in more ways than one. Tim McConnell became only the fifth basketball coach in history to win at least five WPIAL championships. Plus on the half court shot, Matty eclipsed the 2,000 point mark for his career, making him and brother T.J. the only siblings to ever accomplish that feat. Matty is now in his freshman year at Robert Morris while T.J. is in his rookie season for the NBA Philadelphia 76ers.
#3 - END OF A STREAK
It started on August 30th, 2013. South Fayette opened the new football season with a trip to McGuffey for a Class AA Century Conference game in which the Lions prevailed 41-14. South Fayette would not lose another football game in nearly three full seasons. The Lions finished a perfect 16-0 in both 2013 and 2014, claiming back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA football championships along the way. In 2015, despite the loss to graduation of record setting quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, the Lions continued their winning ways in all nine regular season games and the first three WPIAL playoff contests. However the streak ended in November at Heinz Field in a tough 44-38 defeat at the hands of the Aliquippa Quips, the team South Fayette beat the last two years for district gold. The loss ended a 44-game win streak, the third longest winning streak in WPIAL history behind Clairton (66 in a row) of earlier this decade and Braddock (46 in a row) from the mid-50's.
#2 - TREMENDOUS TOSSES
Not many people heard of Madison Wiltrout coming into 2015. Many people know her now. Wiltrout won WPIAL and PIAA gold in May with record setting performances in the javelin throw. But the Connellsville sophomore really put her stamp in the record books at a WPIAL championship qualifying event. Her toss of 185 feet and 8 inches broke a national record as she threw a javelin further than any female in United State high school track and field history. Her record toss in the state championships of 182 feet and 8 inches shattered the previous PIAA record javelin toss by a female by 24 feet, 8 inches. Wiltrout underwent elbow surgery in June to repair a slightly torn ulnar ligament but will be ready to go after her own record at various track and field events this spring.
#1 - PIAA CLASSIFICATION EXPANSION
There has been talk for years about the PIAA expanding high school football in the state of Pennsylvania from four classifications to six classes to help create more blance and offset the large difference in enrollment between 'big' schools and 'small' schools in Class AAAA. That idea seemed to be picking up a lot of steam as 2015 went on, but nobody saw the major changes that were passed on the fly by PIAA officials in October. Waiving protocol, the PIAA board of control voted 26-4 in football and 23-7 in other sports that starting in the 2016-2017 school year, not only would football be expanded to six classification, but boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball would also expanded to six classes. Also expanding starting in the fall is boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball from three to four classifications, girls field hockey from two to three classes and boys and girls lacrosse from one to two. The WPIAL has been strongly against such expansion for football, yet alone other sports. The district has been in discussion with its member schools in the hopes of being creative and staying with the current classification setup. However it appears the schools would like to follow suit with the rest of the PIAA and expand in those sports noted above. As we turn from 2015 to 2016, there has still been no announcement about how the WPIAL will deal with the eight sports expansion, although some clarity is expected before the end of January. Stay tuned!