Pine-Richland notebook: Girls youth basketball teams make state tournament

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Sunday, March 13, 2022 | 12:01 PM


A trio of Pine-Richland girls youth basketball teams will have a chance to take on some of the top competition in the state.

The fourth, fifth and sixth grade teams qualified for the state youth basketball tournament March 18-20 in State College.

Newly hired Pine-Richland football coach Jon LeDonne helps coach the fourth grade team.

“The state tournament has only been around for four years, so it’s relatively new for the youth teams,” LeDonne said. “We just want to promote girls athletics as much as we can.”

Each group for Pine-Richland qualified through a local tournament. There will be 200-plus teams from around the state competing in different age groups between boys and girls.

There was a pep rally held for the girls March 10 at Pine-Richland. A pair of sisters on the Rams varsity team, Sarah and Katie Pifer, spoke to the youth teams at the pep rally.

Sarah Pifer said that a state tournament wasn’t around when she was in elementary school, so she’s excited to see that experience has been created for the youth players.

“I’ve been playing since second grade, so this will be my 10th year playing basketball, and I think it’s important to not only support the younger girls, but show them that their hard work and sacrifices will pay off during their varsity years,” Sarah Pifer said. “I remember going to the varsity games when I was in elementary school and I looked up to those varsity players. I think it’s cool now that I get the opportunity to set an example for the younger girls. It’s important as varsity players that we understand that they look up to us. I was excited to speak to them and hopefully my sister and I will have a positive impact on them.”

Laffey, Ferraro advance

Kelin Laffey won silver at the WPIAL championship last week, but that was enough to give hima chance at state gold.

Laffey fell in a tight 5-4 decision to Dylan Evans for Chartiers Valley in the 152-pound WPIAL final in only his second defeat of the season.

A potential rematch loomed with Evans seeded first and Laffey third in the state tournament March 10-12.

Anthony Ferraro (126) dropped a 5-2 decision against Waynesburg’s Zander Phaturos in the third-place match but still earned one of the four bids to states.

Both Ferraro, a junior, and Laffey, a senior, made the state tournament for the first time.

Joey Schneck (285) also medaled at WPIALs with a sixth-place finish.

Swimmers make states

Five Pine-Richland swimmers and three relay teams qualified for the state swim meet at the WPIAL championships last weekend at Trees Pool.

Sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Anne Shaffer qualified in the 100 breaststroke. Sarah Anne finished third at WPIALs and Elizabeth was tied for sixth. Both sisters were a part of the girls relay team that is state bound. Along with Mila Cribbs and Delaney Allen, the Shaffer sisters were on the 200 medley relay that placed fourth at the WPIAL meet.

Elizabeth joined Allen, Cribbs and Eleah Dickson on the 200 freestyle relay team that finished 10th at WPIALs.

Trent Vacula qualified in two individual events. He placed seventh in the 500 freestyle and 200 IM at WPIALs.

Justin Bogacz was fourth in the 100 butterfly and Matthew Carper was eighth in the 200 IM.

Vacula, Carper and Bogacz joined Will Laubacher on the 200 medley relay team that placed seventh at WPIALs.

The PIAA meet is March 16-19 at Bucknell.

Boyd picks college

Ava Boyd won’t be changing her school colors once she graduates from Pine-Richland next year.

Boyd, a junior soccer standout, announced her commitment to Michigan State on March 8.

Boyd trained in virtual sessions with the U-17 US Women’s National Team during the pandemic and got to showcase her skills in front of college recruiters at the Elite Clubs National League U16-17 national selection game Jan. 8 in Bradenton, Fla.

She didn’t play for the Rams soccer team this year to focus on going to team camps and training with her club team at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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