MSA Sports Top 25 WPIAL Stories of 2016 – #25 through #21

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 | 8:09 PM

It has become a tradition like no other…at least during the holiday season here at the MSA Sports Network. As we close out 2016 and another great high school sports year, we look back at some of the top stories from around the WPIAL in calendar year 2016. We begin our countdown with #25 through #21.


For ten years, North Allegheny has sat on top of the WPIAL Class AAA Boys Cross-Country hill. The Tigers won teams crowns from 2006 to 2015, however that run of ten straight titles ended in November when Seneca Valley edged North Allegheny 55 to 62 as the Raiders won their very first WPIAL Boys Cross-Country Championship. The Tigers run of ten straight titles was two longer than the previous run of cross-country gold, also set by North Allegheny High School between 1990 and 1997.


While one championship run at North Allegheny High School came to an end this fall on the cross-country course, another continued this past February in the pool. The Tigers boys and girls swimming dominance continued as both teams swept WPIAL swimming championships for a fifth straight year. NA boys beat out runner-up Mount Lebanon in both boys and girls with the boys winning by 147 points and the girls by only 34 1/2 points. The crowns are the fifth in a row for the boys teams and eighth straight for the girls. The Tigers girls swim team can tie the all-time record of nine in a row set by Bethel Park from 1974 to 1982. The boys have a ways to go however to tie the Bethel Park record of 20 straight district titles from 1981 to 2000.


Ambridge has proven to be a giant in the WPIAL Class AA boys volleyball landscape with four straight WPIAL championships and seven crowns in the last eight years. As the top-seed in the Double-A postseason, it appeared the Bridgers were set for a fifth straight championship. However none of that seemed to matter to tiny Beaver County Christian, a small school with a male enrollment of only 33, or 12 more than the Ambridge varsity roster.  But when the dust cleared at Baldwin High School in late May, the Eagles were flying high with their first ever WPIAL championship after a sweep of the Bridgers by scores of 29-27, 25-20 and 25-23. Ambridge did rebound in the state playoffs, but lost in the PIAA Finals to Northeastern High School 3-0.


The fact that Riverside won a WPIAL baseball championship is not news. The Panthers have claimed four district diamond crowns since 1996 and this years title was their second this decade. But it was how legendary head coach Dan Oliastro and his team won gold that was eye-opening. Riverside edged Neshannock in the Class AA title game in a pitchers duel, 1-0 in eight innings for Coach Oliastro’s 800th win. That victory capped off four wins in the district playoffs by a combined score of 25-3 with three shutouts. The Panthers advanced to the state third round with two more shutouts before falling to Bishop McCort 1-0 in the PIAA Semifinals.


One of the highlights of the 2015-2016 WPIAL basketball season was a little freshman at a little school that put up big numbers on a regular basis. Cali Konek of Imani Christian ended her amazing first season of high school ball with 1,045 points and average a district record 45.4 points per game, becoming only the 11th girls high school basketball player in United State history to average over 45 points per game in a season. There will be no encore this season for Konek at Imani Christian as she transferred Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in July.


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