MSA Sports Top 25 WPIAL Stories of 2012 Countdown – #10 through #6
Monday, December 31, 2012 | 1:49 PM
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It has become a tradition like no other…at least during the holidays here at The Network. It's time to look back at another high school sports year with the top stories from around the WPIAL in 2012. We continue our countdown with the five stories that ended up #10 through #6.
#10 – WEST SHAMOKIN AND VALLEY END LOOOOOOONG SKIDS
While everybody was talking about the longest winning streak in WPIAL and PIAA history being built by the Clairton Bears in 2012, there was another streak that to the joy of all, finally came to an end this fall.
The WPIAL's longest football losing streak ever ended in Week 3 on September 14th when the West Shamokin Wolves stunned the Riverview Raiders 25-6 to snap a mind-numbing 46-game losing streak.
The Wolves last football victory was a 20-8 triumph over Allegheny-Clarion Valley nearly five years to the date of this triumph, back on September 21st, 2007. Since joining District 7 in 2004, the Wolves have only four wins over WPIAL teams in eight years coming into 2012.
West Shamokin would not have to wait five years for their next win. Five weeks after beating Riverview, the Wolves knocked off Leechburg 33-6. The Wolves ended the season with a 34-27 victory over Allegheny-Clarion Valley, thus finishing with an impressive 3-7 mark and no more skids or streaks to deal with.
While losing 46 in a row in terrible, West Shamokin would have had to lose every game for another five years to come close to another record losing streak that ended this past September.
The Valley Vikings girls soccer team entered the 2012 season having lost 92-consecutive matches. They were 0-4 before their historic win on the pitch on September 14th, a 3-1 triumph over St. Joseph, thus snapping their 96-game losing streak.
It was the first win for the Valley program since a victory over Riverview on September 18th, 2006.
The Vikings would beat Kittanning two games later and end the season with a win over McKeesport to finish 3-14 overall.
#9 – BUSY DAY OF CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR MARS AND GCC
Three of the Planets were aligned for championships on the first Saturday in November. And looking through the telescope, the WPIAL solar system has looked this way only once before. But the Mars Planets sports teams wasn't alone in their triple crown run that day.
Both Mars and Greensburg Central Catholic had three sports teams that made it to WPIAL championships Saturday – the boys and girls soccer teams, and the girls volleyball team. It was quite an unusual feat to see such championship potential from one school. How unusual? Well, in the history of the WPIAL, only once before has a school had two soccer teams and one volleyball team in the title games.
Mount Lebanon did it in 1998, but ended up 0-2-1 with the girls soccer team and volleyball team losing in the finals while the boys soccer team tied in the championship match.
So how did things play out for the Planets and Centurions? Well two out of three ain't bad.
Mars girls soccer won WPIAL gold for a third straight year with a thrilling 2-1 shootout victory over Moon while the Fighting Planets girls volleyball team captured their first championship with a surprising victory over defending champion Hopewell 3-0. Mars boys soccer team however had to settle for silver after they fell to Quaker Valley 2-1 in double overtime.
Greensburg Central Catholic girls volleyball capped off a dominant season with a 3-0 win over Bishop Canevin while the girls soccer team clinched a second straight district title with a 2-0 victory over Sewickley Academy. However like Mars, the GCC boys soccer team could not complete the sweep as the Centurions were stunned by Riverside 2-1 in double overtime.
#8 – BASKETBRAWL
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An ugly fight near the end of a WPIAL boys basketball playoff game ended up spilling over from one court to another court back in February.
Four days after the ugly incident near the end of the Peters Township-Woodland Hills First round playoff game, the Washington County District Attorney's office announced they would prosecute 17-year old Shakim Alonzo of Woodland Hills after he punched Gabe Pritz of Peters Township.
Pritz fell to the ground bleeding from his ear and later received 11 stitches.
Both Alonzo and Trent McPherson of the Indians were tossed from the game, McPherson for throwing the game ball at Alonzo after the incident took place.
The Indians took advantage of the closely called game the rest of the way, going 19 of 24 in the final quarter from the line and 26 of 31 for the game. The Indians also shot 18 of 36 from the field. Pritz scored 30 points, playing the final two and half minutes with a bandage wrapped around his head. R.J. Pfeuffer scoed 15 and Kevin Glod and Dakota Norton each added 10.
The Indians went on to lose to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the Quarterfinals 55-47 playing without McPherson who had to sit out following his ejection.
#7 – YEAR OF THE GRIDIRON TURNAROUND
We mentioned West Shamokin snapping their long football losing streak earlier in this article, but the Wolves were hardly alone in being a struggling football program that tasted success for the first time in a while in 2012.
Nearly a dozen football programs who had played the role of doormat in recent years enjoyed various levels of success this fall.
* Butler and Hempfield are two of the largest enrollment schools in the WPIAL, but neither has had much to celebrate about in football this century. Butler had not made the quad A playoffs since 1997, but qualified this year with a 4-5 mark out of the tough Northern Eight Conference. The Golden Tornado lost to Mount Lebanon in round One. Meanwhile, first year coach Rich Bowen was weaving his magic again. Mr. Program Turnarounder got the Spartans off to a quick start before injuries slowed them down near the end. Hempfield finished 4-5 before losing to Seneca Valley in the First Round. The win total was only the second time this century that the Spartans won four games in a season.
* Elizabeth Forward finished 6-3 before losing to Franklin Regional in the opening round of the playoffs. The six wins was the most by the Warriors since 2000 and the postseason trip was the first for EF since 2005.
* South Allegheny won ten games total the last five years, but exploded to a 7-2 mark and a third place finish in the Century Conference. The Gladiators made the playoffs for the first time since 1986, ending a 26-year drought. South Allegheny lost to Jeannette in the First round of the AA playoffs.
* Valley was dealing with a 22-game losing streak coming into the 2012 season. They beat Deer Lakes in their opener to shed themselves on the losing skid, then after losing back-to-back games, they won five straight to finish the regular season 6-3. Valley fell in Round One to Beaver.
* Freedom won four games total the previous four years, but the Bulldogs finished 4-5 and clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2004. Freedom fell in the opening round to South Fayette.
* Apollo-Ridge had won three games combined in 2010 and 2011, but soared to a 6-3 record and their first playoff berth since 2007. The Vikings fell to Monessen in the First Round.
* Even though it did not lead to a playoff berth, it was still a season to remember for the Avella football program. just a few years ago, the Eagles were struggling just to field a team each week, at one point dressing a cheerleader just to have enough healthy players. Avella gained national attention with a 5-0 start, only to see its playoff hopes disappear with three consecutive losses. A 6-3 final record though marked the tiny Washington County schools best mark in over 25 years.
* The Union Scotties won a combined ten football games the previous five seasons, but in the tough Class A Big 7 Conference, finished fourth with a 6-3 record. One of the smallest schools in the WPIAL, Union stunned Beth-Center 21-7 in the opening round of the postseason before losing to eventual runner-up Sto-Rox in the Class A Quarterfinals 33-8.
* The most successful turnaround may have been by Neshannock. The Lancers went from 2 wins in 2009, to 4 wins in 2010 and 5 wins in 2011…to an 8-1 regular season and a tri-championship in the Big 7 Conference with Rochester and Sto-Rox. Neshannock beat Jefferson-Morgan and Monessen in the first two rounds of the playoffs before falling to mighty Clairton in the Semifinals.
#6 – SETON-LaSALLE PERFECTION
Seton-LaSalle discovered that #13 is a lucky number. The Rebels outlasted section rival Bishop Canevin 73-60 back in March to capture their second consecutive WPIAL girls Class AA championship and become the 13th girl’s school to win a district title with a perfect record as Seton-LaSalle picked up their 25th win in 25 games.
In the third meeting between these Section 5 teams, Bishop Canevin actually jumped out to a 7-3 first quarter lead before Natalie Piaggesi hit three field goals in an 8-0 run for the Rebels that put Seton-LaSalle up 11-7. The Crusaders tied the game at 11-11 before the Rebels scored 10 of the final 13 points in the quarter and claimed a 21-14 lead after one.
The second quarter was back and forth as the lead for Seton-LaSalle was never more than eleven points, but was never fewer than seven points as the Rebels led the Crusaders at the break 38-27.
After the Crusaders Erin Waskowiak opened the second half scoring with a basket to make it 38-30, the Rebels went on another 8-0 run to build their lead to 16 points. After three quarters, it was 52-39 Seton-LaSalle leading Bishop Canevin.
Just when it looked like the Rebels would pull away to their typical runaway win, The Crusaders hung tough, hitting five three-point shots and twice pulling as close as seven points. But both times BC pulled to within 7, SL would answer with runs of four and five straight, the final one coming with just under 90 seconds left in the game.
“You gotta give it to Bishop Canevin, they fought hard and they are a very good team,” said winning coach Dennis Squeglia after the game. “But our kids really executed and deserve this title. Every one of them stepped up and earned this championship.”
Bishop Canevin falls to 21-5 with three of those losses to Seton-LaSalle. The Crusaders were led by Waskowiak’s 16 points, while Carly Forse added 15 points, Celina DiPietro 14 points and Johnie Olkosky 12, all of three-pointers.
25-0 Seton-LaSalle was led by Natalie Piaggesi’s game high 20 points, 10 each half. Naje Gibson added 17 points, Angela Heintz 16 points and Nicolette Newman off the bench chipped in with 11 points.
A run through the state playoffs was next for the Rebels.
Seton LaSalle made history by going perfect for the season with a 71-47 win over York Catholic in the Girls Class AA championship game at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Rebels pick up their second state title and first since 1984 in dominant fashion, leading by 20 points or more in the third quarter on the way to picking up the gold basketball and a 30-0 record.
The Rebels placed four players in double figures, Angela Heintz led with 18 points, Nicolete Newman added 16 off the bench with four three pointers, Naje Gibson had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds and Cassidy Walsh scored 11 and dished out 8 assists.
York Catholic scored the first five points of the game, Seton LaSalle answered with seven straight and the battle was on. Morgan Klunk scored on a layup with 6:54 left in the second to cut the Seton lead to 17-13, that would be the closest the Fighting Irish got the rest of the way. Heintz and Gibson took over the quarter as the Rebels went on a 10-0 run to lead 27-13. The defense was strong as well for the WPIAL champions, holding York Catholic to 5 of 24 from the field in the opening half.
Up by twelve, the Rebels ended all doubt with Heintz stealing the inbounds pass to open the third, the Duquesne University recruit drove the lane and scored, Gibson and Natalie Piagessi added buckets, the 6-0 run started the momentum for a 25 point quarter and a 56-34 lead after three. Newman was a major key off the bench, going four of six from behind the arc, two of the three's coming in the decisive third period. Seton LaSalle also forced 15 turnovers, seven in the second half.
Seton LaSalle shot 26 of 61 from the field for 42 percent, including 7 of 15 from behind the arc. The Rebels were 12 of 15 at the line.
The Rebels become the third WPIAL girls team to go undefeated thru an entire season, the others were Mount Alvernia in 1983 and Mount Lebanon in 2009. With the 71 points the Rebels matched their season average of 70 points per game.
York Catholic was making it's sixth championship appearance in seven seasons, however the Fighting Irish came up empty again, falling to Villa Maria in both 2009 and 2010. Morgan Klunk led the way with 12 points and five rebounds, Karli McFatrudge added 11 points.
The Fighting Irish finished 16 of 62 from the field, and 4 of 19 behind the arc. Senior Rachel Forjan needed just five points to reach one thousand for her career, she averaged 11.3 points coming into the title game. Forjan shot 1 of 17 from the field and 0-10 behind the stripe, including several forced shots late in the contest to try and hit the magic mark. The Fighting Irish were 11 of 15 from the line, ending their season at 29-4.
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