Westmoreland boys basketball notebook: Belle Vernon’s Salvino nears victory milestone

Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 4:21 PM

Somewhat in jest, Joe Salvino said there are two people who care more about his career win total than he does.

“My scorekeeper and my wife,” the Belle Vernon boys basketball coach said with a laugh. “I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. It means I’ve won, but this is my 38th year. When people ask how many wins I have and I don’t know, my wife yells at me.”

Salvino, 70, is on the doorstep of a major coaching milestone: 700 wins.

His record over nearly four decades — he spent 34 years at Monessen — is 698-284.

Belle Vernon (18-3), the No. 3 seed in the WPIAL 4A playoffs, is expected to make another title push and could get Salvino the benchmark victory in the semifinals.

His wife, Toni Lynn, and longtime scorebook sidekick, John Kukrak, have been keeping a close eye on the total since Salvino reached 600 wins in 2016 while he was coaching at Monessen.

Salvino has 59 wins in four seasons at Belle Vernon.

He won two PIAA championships, six WPIAL championships and 21 section titles at Monessen.

“My thing is winning. I want to find ways to win games,” Salvino said. “But I don’t think I stop and enjoy (wins). One game ends and I am worried about the next one.”

Only two other boys basketball coaches have reached 700 wins in WPIAL history, Don Graham of North Catholic (801) and Ken Misiak of Geibel (730).

Ed McCluskey, who coached at a number schools, most notably Farrell, is third on the WPIAL list, according to pahoops.org, with 698 wins.

So Salvino is a win away from third place.

“I don’t look at it as my accomplishment,” he said. “It’s a team accomplishment. It’s about all the players and teams I have been associated with. And I am honored to be named with those other people.”


No. 12 seed Jeannette (10-11) will play at No. 5 Monessen (18-4) in the Class 2A playoffs Tuesday in the only WPIAL playoff game matching local teams in the first round.

The teams haven’t played each other since 2017-18, when Jeannette won, 67-58.

They met twice in 2016-17, the season Jeannette moved up from Class A, and Monessen swept both games, 69-39 and 69-63.

The Jayhawks and Greyhounds met in the 2014-15 WPIAL Class A championship, with Monessen winning, 73-57, at Petersen Events Center.

Julian Batts, a current Jeannette assistant on his father Adrian’s staff, was a senior guard on that team.

Monessen moved up to 2A last year. The Greyhounds have won 15 straight games, tying their longest winning streak since 2015-16.

Rematches in 6A

Hempfield and Norwin will take on teams they already played this season in the WPIAL Class 6A first round.

No. 13 seed Hempfield (7-14) will visit No. 4 Mt. Lebanon, while No. 11 Norwin (9-10) heads north to face No. 6 Butler (11-9). Both games are 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Hempfield, which played one of the toughest schedules in the WPIAL, lost to the host Blue Devils, 64-33.

Hempfield was held to single digits in three quarters and trailed 26-11 at the half.

Lucas Garofoli (15 points), Christian Powers (13), Zach D’Alesandro (10) and Joey Peters (10) combined to outscore the Spartans.

Norwin, in turn, turned some heads with a 69-61 win at Butler. Ty Stecko has 22 points, Adam Bilinsky added 21 and Ryan Edwards had 12 for the Knights, who outscored the Golden Tornado, 23-13, in the fourth quarter.

Butler star Devin Carney, a 2,000-point career scorer, finished with 22 in the loss.

Family ties

Class 6A No. 2 Fox Chapel has a Fenton on the roster and, yes, he’s related to the Fentons from Latrobe.

Senior forward Russell Fenton is the son of Keith Fenton, a former Wildcats’ standout who played at Bucknell. Keith Fenton is the uncle of recent Latrobe star Reed Fenton, who plays at Lehigh.

Keith Fenton once held the top spot on the Latrobe boys scoring list with 1,333 points.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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