Trib HSSN Top 21 stories of 2021: OLSH boys basketball couldn’t be beat

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Monday, December 27, 2021 | 8:58 PM


The year 2021 wasn’t one giant leap for mankind, but it was one big step back toward “normalcy” for all of us, especially the high school athletes from around the WPIAL.

They were able to do what they love to do: compete on area fields, courts, mats and pools. They did so in front of fans again as the return of the loud and raucous student bodies to various events was like hot cocoa on a frigid night.

As has become a year-end tradition, Trib HSSN winds down the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 21 WPIAL stories from the year 2021.

No. 15 – Golden mat streak

The Burrell team wrestling championship streak is a year away from driving and a step closer to the all-time championship streak in WPIAL history.

In what has become almost a foregone conclusion, the Bucs captured WPIAL Class 2A gold for a 15th straight season in February when they defeated Burgettstown in the finals, 38-18.

Burrell is now five consecutive titles away from tying the all-time streak of 20 straight WPIAL championship set by the Bethel Park boys swimming team from 1981-2000.

No. 14 – State golden girl

It was an appropriate way to wrap up a golden scholastic career.

Melissa Riggins of Shady Side Academy won PIAA gold by taking first place in both the 800 and 1,600-meter races.

It was the third time in Riggins career that she finished first in both races at the state championships at Shippensburg University.

Riggins won the 1,600 by more than 12 seconds and beat the 800-meter field by five seconds. She ran her career record to 64-0 in individual races on Pennsylvania tracks.

In sweeping gold again, Riggins became only the sixth female from the WPIAL to win six PIAA championships in individual events.

No. 13 – Charging toward the record

A year after losing one game, the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart boys basketball team “improved” last season, winning another WPIAL championship as well as taking home PIAA gold.

It was all part of a perfect 24-0 season for the Chargers.

The closest margin of victory for OLSH occurred in the season opener when it defeated North Catholic, 80-74.

The 24 wins last season combined with 16 straight wins to end the 2019-2020 season and a 3-0 start to this season has OLSH knocking on the door of history.

The longest winning streak in WPIAL boys basketball history is 52 in a row, a record shared by the 1963-65 Uniontown teams and the 1983-85 Washington teams.

Over the last three years, OLSH had been led by the dynamic duo of Jake DiMichele and Dante Spadafora. The two scored a combined 841 points last season with DiMichele averaging 30.5 points per game and Spadafora nearly 19 ppg.

With Spadafora graduating, DiMichele has a lot of young help as the Chargers hope to break the record on their way to a fourth straight district crown and a repeat of a state title this winter.

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