Scholastic Notebook – 03/14/2014
Friday, March 14, 2014 | 4:40 PM
Seton-LaSalle boys basketball coach Mark Walsh is known as “Knobby.” He has two brothers, Kevin and Danny, who also are known as “Knobby.” The boys’ father, Ed, also is known as “Knobby.”
It is a crazy name game. But at Seton-LaSalle, just call Mark Walsh one thing.
Walsh has made Seton-LaSalle basketball relevant again. Well, more than relevant. He has guided the Rebels to one of the best seasons in school history. Seton-LaSalle won a WPIAL title for only the second time since joining the league in the mid 1970s. Also, Seton-LaSalle has a 27-1 record. That is the most wins since the school joined the WPIAL.
Not the 1988 team that won a PIAA title, or the 1989 team that won the school’s first WPIAL boys title won this many games. The 1988 team went 26-6.
Walsh has built up the basketball program at his alma mater. The Rebels had a number of highly successful seasons in the 1980s, 90s and in the early 2000s. But in the eight seasons before Walsh took over, Seton-LaSalle was mediocre at best. In the two seasons before Walsh took over, the Rebels were 6-14 and 4-18. They made the WPIAL playoffs the three years before that, but never won more than 13 games. They were below .500 in the three seasons from 2003-06.
Things started to turn for Seton-LaSalle in Walsh’s first year when the Rebels went 15-9. They were 21-3 last year.
This year came the championship run.
This is Walsh’s second head coaching job. The first one didn’t go nearly as well. Walsh, who once was an assistant at Blackhawk under legendary John Miller, coached six years at Canevin from 1998-2004. His record there was 56-90 before he departed. His boss was athletic director Bob Jacoby, who also happens to be his father-in-law.
Walsh had some assistant jobs before taking over Seton-LaSalle in the 2011-12 season.
Boy-Girl Stuff at Seton
The Seton-LaSalle boys and girls won WPIAL titles this year. It was only the 13th time for a boy-girl sweep in WPIAL history.
Now the Seton-LaSalle boys and girls are trying for a PIAA sweep. That is extremely rare.
The only times a WPIAL school has swept the PIAA boys and girls titles in the same year was 1999 with Blackhawk, and 1989 with Aliquippa.
New Castle-Hampton Tickets
The New Castle and Hampton boys teams will meet for the fourth time this season, in a PIAA quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon at Bethel Park. Like the other three games, tickets will be hard to come by.
Each school received 1,200 tickets to sell Friday. New Castle definitely expected to sell its allotment and probably quickly. Hampton was a little unsure if it will sell all of its tickets. The tickets that might be left over from the two schools, as well as 300 more tickets, will be put on sale at Bethel Park Saturday starting at 1 p.m. Game time is 2 p.m.
The WPIAL and PIAA tried to get other sites for the game but the Palumbo Center, Robert Morris, Slippery Rock and Ambridge High School were all unavailable. WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said Bethel Park was the biggest high school gym available. Chartiers Valley and North Allegheny were considered, but Bethel Park is bigger than both of those schools.
Bethel Park had a new gymnasium open in January of 2012. It seats 2,450. But there is a track that sits atop the bleachers and goes around the gym. The school plans to put people who have to stand on the track.
“No other gyms available has what Bethel has,” said O’Malley. “Of the high school gyms available, Bethel Park can accommodate the most people.”
If Hampton and New Castle had not moved up to Class AAAA for the past two seasons, what would have been the fate of North Allegheny?
North Allegheny has had excellent teams the past two seasons, but no titles. The Tigers lost only 10 games the past two seasons – and all 10 were to New Castle and Hampton. They lost six times to New Castle and four to Hampton. North Allegheny’s record against everybody else the past two years? 44-0.
West Allegheny Opens Bears Position
In a move that surprised a number of people, West Allegheny opened the position of boys basketball coach Josh Bears.
Bears was the Indians’ coach for 10 seasons. He won a WPIAL title and made it to the semifinals two other times. His record overall was 127-106.
Bears was told he could re-apply for the job or resign. He has chosen to do neither. He said he will not “fight” for his coaching job, but would consider coaching elsewhere. He will continue to be an eighth-grade history teacher in the West Allegheny district.
“I’m not done coaching,” said Bears. “Any job offers I could get, I didn’t want anyone to think I willingly stepped away.”
Elsewhere in WPIAL basketball coaching news, Mark Gaither resigned as Washington’s boys coach after five seasons. Gaither was 76-42 with four WPIAL playoff appearances. He also had been a head coach at Bethel Park and Ringgold.
Also, Bishop Canevin has opened Tony DeMaria’s position of boys coach.
Char Valley Diver Sets Record
Chartiers Valley’s Maria Lohman won her second PIAA Class AAA diving title Thursday and did it in record-breaking fashion.
Lohman had a performance for the ages with a score of 529.80. She broke the oldest existing PIAA record. Her score bettered the record of 517.20, set in 1999 by Penn Hills’ Jen O’Brien.
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