Trib HSSN Top 20 Stories of 2020: Laurel Highlands wins long-awaited WPIAL title

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Saturday, December 26, 2020 | 6:32 PM


The most unique year in our lifetime is coming to an end. With so many mass starts and stops, highs and lows, just about all walks of life were affected by the coronavirus in 2020.

High school sports were no different. The first two and a half months of the year were carefree and business as usual. Then the final nine and a half months were greatly affected by the pandemic, whether scholastic contests were played or not.

Trib HSSN will close out the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 20 WPIAL stories from the year 2020.

No. 8 — Golden Corral

In 1968, a gallon of gas was 34 cents, a dozen eggs were 53 cents, a first class stamp was 6 cents, there was a new president elect and Laurel Highlands was the WPIAL Class AAA boys basketball champion at a time when there were only two classifications.

Fast forward 52 years and a gallon of gas is $2.55, a dozen eggs are $2.33, a first class stamp is 55 cents, there is a new president elect in the U.S. and Laurel Highlands was once again the WPIAL boys basketball champ, this time in Class 5A.

The Mustangs ended their 52-year golden drought in surprising fashion.

In the 2018-19 season, Laurel Highlands finished at the bottom of Section 1-5A with an overall record of 4-17.

A year later, they were a much improved squad thanks to the addition of freshman phenom Rodney Gallagher. The ninth-grader completed the regular season with an average of 23 points per game as the Mustangs finished in third place with a much improved 13-8 record.

There was a lot to be excited about for Laurel Highlands fans, but when the WPIAL seeded them No. 8 in the 12-team 5A playoffs, there were few people that thought the future was now for the Mustangs.

However postseason wins over Hampton, top-seeded Penn Hills and No. 4 Thomas Jefferson lifted Laurel Highlands into the title game against two-time defending district champion Mars.

Once again, the Mustangs bucked all odds and defeated the Fightin’ Planets in a thriller, 52-51, to sit atop the WPIAL basketball world for the first time in more than a half-century.

The golden dream season ended in the next game when Laurel Highlands lost to York Suburban in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs, 57-56.

No. 9 – Perfect Pine

No. 10 – West A Senior Drafted

No. 11 – COVID KOs Champs

No. 12 – Emotional Championship

No. 13 – Outstanding Olivia

No. 14 – The Bucs Aren’t Stopping Here

No. 15 – Free Fall

No. 16 – An Overdue Golden Storm

No. 17 – Lots of Mercy for Central Valley Foes

No. 18 – Swimming Sweep…Again

No. 19 – Fabulous Freshmen

No. 20 – Golden Knights of the Tennis Court

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