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Boys Golf: Burgettstown wins Tri-County Class AA title

Written by Joe Koch on .

Burgettstown High's boys golf team took top honors in the 10-team field to win the Class AA title at the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association's Championship this past Friday at Village Green Golf Course in Hickory.

The Blue Devils -- the team runners-up in the 2013 WPIAL Class AA golf championships -- had a team score of 438, four strokes ahead of the 442 total posted by South Fayette.

Bentworth (473), Carmichaels (477) and California (483) took the next three places. Chartiers-Houston (486), Waynesburg (495), Fort Cherry (505) and Charleroi (507) rounded out the field. McGuffey was disqualified.

Blue Devils senior Hunter Lecker took top honors among all competitors -- Class AAA and Class AA -- with a 2-over-par round of 73. Lecker's junior teammate, Cody Dobbin, and Charleroi junior Mike Kondratik both shot rounds of 81.

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Alumni Update: Blackhawk grad builds fine resume at Geneva

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Blackhawk graduate Brett Alberti, a defensive end at Geneva. Read his story below.

When Brett Alberti graduated from Blackhawk High School, he chose Duquesne University with the goal of attaining an engineering degree.

He also decided that playing football and pursuing an engineering degree would not be possible because both are very time consuming.

After one year at Duquesne, this Beaver County resident made two changes. He decided to move closer to his West Mayfield home to attend Geneva College and resume his football career.

"Beaver Falls is a great place for football, both high school and college," said Alberti, who didn't fully understand that until his year at Duquesne, and a year away from football. "The people who live in this area love football and support Geneva football and the various high school teams in this area. My year at Duquesne made me realize that."

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Alumni Update: Western Beaver's Blinn proves prolific at Bethany

Written by Joe Koch on .

Joe Koch profiles Western Beaver graduate Eric Blinn, now a star wide receiver at Bethany.

"During an inconsistent 2013 football season at Bethany College, wide receiver Eric Blinn was quite consistent for a Bison team that finished with a 4-6 record that featured two separate three-game losing streaks.

But while the Bison stumbled, Blinn, a Western Beaver High School graduate, flourished. He caught 95 passes for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.

In just two seasons, Blinn, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, has amassed 2,090 receiving yards, scored 14 touchdowns and amassed 508 yards in kick returns. All told, Blinn has rolled up 2,645 all-purpose yards.

Those figures did not go unnoticed as he earned first-team All-Presidents Athletic Conference honors, third-team All-South Region honors last season and second-team preseason All-American honors from the USA College Football Network and Beyond Sports Network for the upcoming campaign."

 

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Boys Basketball: Kaufman takes over as coach at Moon

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Drew Karpen profiles new Moon basketball coach Adam Kaufman.

"If one were to take a survey on which individual meant the most to the Montour High School basketball program over the past six years, the results would probably be close to unanimous — Adam Kaufman was that individual.

In his time as head coach with the Spartans, Kaufman compiled 111 wins and is responsible for the only two WPIAL boys basketball championship banners hanging in the Montour gymnasium.

The Spartans cut down the nets at the A.J. Palumbo Center in 2011 and 2013. It is fair to say that Kaufman has meant a great deal to Montour.

The feeling Kaufman had about Montour — his alma mater — was mutual. Kaufman loved his time at Montour, but his passion for Montour basketball was surpassed by only one thing in his life — his family. That is why he felt it was the right time for a change."

 

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Blue Chip Chat with Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Post-Gazette High School Sports Editor Mike White begins his Blue Chip Chats with Central Valley' Jordan Whitehead. Click here to read the story.

whitehead0810"Data
Year: Senior
Height: 5-11
Weight: 185
Pos: RB/DB

The scoop
One of the premier players in the state, Whitehead is ranked the No. 27 defensive back in the country by Rivals.com. A starter since his freshman year, he is a multitalented player who also is an excellent kick returner. A year ago, he was Central Valley’s second-leading rusher with 674 yards on 82 carries (8.2 average) and also the leading receiver with 22 catches for 317 yards. He helped the Warriors reach the WPIAL Class AAA title game. He also was one of the top sprinters in WPIAL track in the spring. Athletic talent is in his genes. His mother, Antonia Whitehead, was a star sprinter in the WPIAL in the mid 1980s and his father, Greg, was a talented basketball player at NCAA Division III College of Staten Island in New York.

College talk
Whitehead is one of the most heavily recruited players in the state with about two dozen scholarship offers from Division I colleges. He says he doesn’t have a final list of schools, but Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State and Alabama are mentioned most often with Whitehead. All have offered. He plans to announce his decision Oct. 3."

 

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Montour High School athletic director suspended indefinitely

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Post-Gazette High School Editor Mike White examines the situation at Montour High School, where Lou Cerro has been suspended indefinitely as Athletic Director. He will remain as football coach. Click here to read his story.

Montour Cerro"
A highly successful high school football coach has been suspended indefinitely as Montour High School’s athletic director. The suspension comes over questions relating to fees for security provided at school events, sources said..

Lou Cerro, who has won three WPIAL titles in his football coaching career, was suspended with pay last week by Donald Boyer, superintendent of Montour schools. But Cerro only was suspended as athletic director. He will continue to coach the football team.

The official start of high school football practice in Pennsylvania is six days away, but teams will begin three required heat acclimatization practices Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to coaching football this season, and that’s all I can really say right now,” Cerro said Monday afternoon, shortly before getting ready for a team workout." 

(Photo: Montour coach Lou Cerro consoles Devin Wilson after losing to Bishop McDevitt in a PIAA Class AAA semifinal at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona in 2011. Photo by Matt Freed, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

 

 

 

 

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Basketball: OLSH grad uses summer league to prepare for Pitt career

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Craig Meyer profiles former Our Lady of the Sacred Heart basketball standout Cameron Johnson.

"With his team locked in a tie game at the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Pro-Am League, Cameron Johnson went about his work.

An Our Lady of the Sacred Heart graduate, this Pitt freshman-to-be had the ball near midcourt, staring down his defender — Panthers teammate Joshua Ko — with each movement. Gradually, Johnson steadily proceeded forward, alternating hands with each dribble until he got to the 3-point line, where he quickly picked the ball up and, with Ko lunging at him, calmly rattled home a shot.

In no more than a handful of months, such a situation would be drastically different."

 

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Wrestling: West Allegheny's Hall is hard at work

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles West Allegheny wrestler Nathan Hall. Read his story below.

Nathan Hall began wrestling at age 5, but switched to hockey the following year.

"My dad [Don] wrestled when he attended Freedom High School, so he wanted me to try wrestling," Hall recalled. "But he also wanted me to try other sports. I played hockey for a year, but realized that I missed wrestling. So I switched back to wrestling when I was 7."

Hall has tried several other sports since his days in elementary school, but wrestling is still his favorite.

"I ran cross country in seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th grade, but decided to concentrate on wrestling last season," said Hall, who completed his junior year at West Allegheny High School. "I love wrestling and I want to do it at the collegiate level."

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Boys Volleyball: 2014 West Season Recap

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ambridge's comeback in the WPIAL Class AA title match may not have been as impressive as the Bridgers improbable comeback in 2012, but it still resulted in a title.

In 2012, Ambridge rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three straight victories to defeat Derry in the WPIAL title match.

Fast forward to the 2014 final, held at Baldwin High School, and the two teams were once again facing off for the WPIAL title.

"It wasn't like it was two years ago when we came back after losing the first two sets," said Ambridge senior Dan Zajac, after collecting his third WPIAL gold medal. "We just refocused and worked on our gameplan. The key was that we didn't panic."

Derry held a 22-19 advantage in the first set and was serving for game point with a 24-22 lead, but Ambridge battled back to pull out a 29-27 victory.

"I tell the guys all the time to just worry about the next serve," Ambridge coach Glenn Freed said. "It doesn't matter what the score is, just worry about the next serve. When you're working hard good things will happen."

The same thing happened in the second set, but Derry built an even bigger lead, 23-17. Ambridge scored nine of the last ten points to pull out a 26-24 victory and take a commanding 2-0 lead.

"That great comeback in the second set really shows how we work together as a team," said Ambridge senior outside hitter Brandon Buck, who recorded 16 kills. "We never give up, regardless of the score. It doesn't matter what the score is. You can always come back and win if you work together as a team."

"To come back from all that is pretty ridiculous," said Ambridge outside hitter Lee Smith, a Penn State recruit who led the Bridgers with 18 kills. "Our team just played together when we really needed to."

The third set was also close, as the two teams traded points until the score was tied 17-17. At that point, the Bridgers outscored the Trojans 8-3 to pull out a 25-20 victory.

"I have so much faith in our players," said Ambridge setter Aaron Mueller, who recorded 41 assists for the Bridgers. "No matter who we are playing, I believe we can come back and win, no matter what the score is."

The victory earned Ambridge its third consecutive WPIAL Class AA title and sixth in seven years.

"Three times in a row. It's an amazing feeling," Smith said. "But I don't think anything can match our first title. We had to come back from a 2-0 deficit to beat them."

Ambridge made a return trip to the PIAA title match, but experienced a bad case of deja vu.

The Bridgers faced District 3 champion Northeastern for the second straight year in the Class AA title match and had to settle for second best again.

"Losing in the state championship match really hurts, especially since it's my senior year," said Smith, a four-year starter for the Bridgers.

Ambridge dropped a 3-1 decision to Northeastern in last year's title match. The Bridgers had hoped to avenge the loss on Saturday, but it wasn't meant to be, as the Panthers recorded a three-game sweep.

"[Northeastern] did a great job," Ambridge coach Glenn Freed said. "We kept trying to get into our game and they kept stopping us with everything that we were doing. That's why they are the state champions. They are such a great team. We fought as hard as we could and kept battling every point. I'm so proud of my team. They didn't quit, but Northeastern was too good."

Ambridge matched Northeastern point for point in the first two sets until they reached the midpoint of each set. The two teams were tied at 11-11 in each set, but Northeastern dominated from that point on in both sets, recording a 25-20 win in the first set and a 25-15 blowout in the second set.

Northeastern took charge in the third set and clinched the victory with an impressive 25-14 decision.

"[Northeastern] just put it all together today and played a great match," Freed said. "Volleyball is a game of momentum and they carried the momentum most of the match. Even when we got a couple points, they seemed to battle back."

Playing at Rec Hall had special meaning for Smith, a Penn State recruit.

"I came into this gym with fire in my stomach," said Smith, a four-time selection on the first team of the WPIAL Class AA All-Star Team. "I looked around, it's awesome to be here. I'm going to be here next year and I can't wait for that."

Smith's future teammate Nick Goodell was in attendance. Goodell graduated from Ambridge when Smith was in eighth grade, then redshirted as a freshman.

"It will be great to be on the same team with Nick for the first time," Smith said. "It's an awesome feeling to be here. My first match wasn't with Penn State, but it was with my brothers."

Smith may be disappointed with the loss, but he's proud of what the Bridgers have been able to accomplish during his high school career.

"We won three WPIAL titles and placed second in the state twice," Smith said. "That's something to be proud of."

Smith led Ambridge with 12 kills in Saturday's match, while Zajac and Buck contributed six each. Mueller led the Brigers with 21 assists and four digs.

"Lee Smith will be playing at Penn State," said Freed, when asked who would be playing volleyball in college. "Brandon Buck is going to St. Francis, and Shawn Mueller is going to Penn State-Behrend. Dan Zajac will be playing football at Delaware State."

Smith, Buck, Zajac, and Mueller are four of seven seniors in Ambridge's starting rotation. The other three seniors are: middle hitters Shawn Butter and Logan Campbell, and defensive specialist Luke Fritz.

"We have a very talented senior class," Freed said. "They will be missed."

Freed used a nine player rotation, which includes two underclassmen: junior libero Mitch Brewer and sophomore outside/middle hitter Derek Kuhn.

OLSH Earns Second PIAA Berth

Shaughn McDonald performed in front of large crowds numerous times during his volleyball career at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

McDonald's final performance in front of a crowd at the Coraopolis based high school was much different, as he delivered the Valedictorian speech for the Chargers "Class of 2014".

"I was more nervous for that speech than any volleyball match I've played," McDonald said. "Fortunately, the speech went very well."

The same is true for McDonald's volleyball career. He was voted to the first team of the WPIAL Class AA All-Star Team all four years and will be a three-time member of the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association All-State Team. The 2014 PVCA All-State Team hasn't been announced yet, but McDonald was selected the past two years, so it would be a huge surprise if he didn't appear for a third time.

"My wife and I are so proud of what Shaughn was able to accomplish during his high school career as an athlete and as a student," said Mike McDonald, who is Shaughn's father and coach. "Having him deliver the Valedictorian speech was a great way to end his four years at OLSH."

Shaughn McDonald was one of six members of the Chargers volleyball team who graduated on Sunday.

"Five of the six were starters, so we have some rebuilding to do for next year," coach McDonald said.

The 2014 Chargers squad turned in the best season in school history. They tied for second place in Section 1 and placed third in the WPIAL Class AA Tournament, thus earning a second consecutive berth in the PIAA Tournament.

"Last year, we were a Cinderella story as we came on at the end of the season and qualified for the state tournament," coach McDonald said. "This year, we were a serious contender all year long."

OLSH almost pulled a major upset in the opening round of the PIAA Tournament. The Chargers posted victories of 26-24 and 25-23 in the first and third sets against Cochranton, the District 10 champion and favorite. Cochranton reboudned with wins of 25-15 and 25-19 in the second and fourth sets, then pulled out the final set 15-9 to avoid the upset.

"I told the kids that we all hate losing and that I'm disappointed for you, but not disappointed in you," coach McDonald said. "They were just a slight bit better than us. That says a lot about our team because most of our kids have two years or less of volleyball experience. Cochranton's whole team has been playing volleyball since sixth grade.

"A lot of people thought we would be three and out against Cochranton. We actually had a shot to win at the end, but just couldn't close it out. That's something to be proud of."

The other five seniors on McDonalds' squad are: outside hitter Alex Ritter, middle hitter Nick Metz, opposite Kendall Paige, setter Ian Alexander, and serving specialist Jay Pflugh. Ritter was voted to the second team of the WPIAL All-Star Team for the second straight year. Paige was voted to the third team for the first time.

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Boys Volleyball: 2014 West Photo Recap

Written by Sports Town on .

The following photos feature boys volleyball teams from the area's West zone. These ran in the Post-Gazette during the 2014 season.

2014 0417 Ambridge BVolleyball(Photo: Senior Dan Zajac, serving for the Ambridge volleyball team, is also a dedicated weightlifter and football player. J.J. LaBella/Tri-State Sports & News Service)

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Football: West Allegheny's Koester picks a college

Written by Brad Everett on .

Andrew Koester was the starting quarterback on West Allegheny's WPIAL championship teams the past two seasons.

When his senior year concludes, Koester will try to bring his winning ways to St. Francis.

Koester committed to St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa. earlier this week.

Koester (6-foot-4) is entering his third season as West Allegheny's starting quarterback. He led the Indians to a 25-3 record the past two seasons. The Indians topped West Mifflin in the 2012 WPIAL Class AAA title game and then Central Valley in last year's championship.

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Boys Lacrosse: 2014 West Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

Moon achieves plenty of success

The only boys team playing in Sports Town's West region had an outstanding season in 2014.

The Moon Tigers finished with a 15-1 record and advanced to the WPIAL Division 2 semifinals with a 10-7 victory over perennial playoff participant Greensburg Central Catholic.

The Tigers' hopes for a WPIAL title, however, were dashed with an 8-7 overtime loss to Indiana in a game played at North Allegheny.

The loss finished the fourth season for the Tigers, which was Moon's second as a Division 2 program. Moon joined Division 2 after playing two seasons as an Independent. The team's first year was 2010 when the Moon program was begun on the middle-school-school level.

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Girls Lacrosse: 2014 West Season Recap

Written by Joe Koch on .

Blackhawk, Moon qualify for playoffs

One wonders what might he happened had Blackhawk and Moon met for a third time this past season. One thing's for certain: it would have been a close game.

In two regular-season meetings, each team earned overtime victories over the other with Blackhawk taking an 8-7 home field decision on April 16, while the host Tigers returned the favor with an 11-10 extra-time victory on May 6.

But a potential third meeting was not in the cards as the Tigers lost a quarterfinal game to eventual champion Shaler 21-7, while the Cougars fell to eventual runner-up Chartiers Valley 15-6 in the semifinals.

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Football: Carlynton coach ready for transition

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

John D'Abruzzo profiles new Carlynton football coach Mauro Monz.

"At first glimpse of Carlynton's upcoming varsity football schedule, Mauro Monz smiled.

As a former player and 1992 graduate of Seton-LaSalle, Monz is familiar with most of the opposing WPIAL teams the Cougars will be competing against in the Century Conference.

Carlynton's new head coach, however, realizes his program is entering a transition season and is making the move up from Class A to Class AA.

"Before I took the job, I was looking at our schedule and saw South Fayette, Seton-LaSalle and South Park and thought these were great programs. When I found out we were moving up to Class AA, I was in awe and nervous all in the same breath. This is probably the best Double-A conference in the state.""

 

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Boys Tennis: 2014 West Season Recap

Written by Ryan Riordan on .

In his first year of high school, Luke Phillips qualified for the PIAA Class AA tournament.

Phillips, who is home schooled but plays tennis for Carlynton, won the Class AA Section 5 singles tournament and placed third in the WPIAL to qualify for states. He won his first state tournament match before falling in the quarterfinals.

Phillips was the lone player from the West to make the trip to Hershey, although the Blackhawk team came close. The Cougars, who won Class AA Section 2 with a perfect 12-0 league record, fell one win short of qualifying for the PIAA tournament, losing to Valley in the WPIAL consolation final.

Blackhawk beat out Beaver and Riverside for the section title. The Bobcats and Panthers both fell in the first round of the WPIAL tournament.

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Boys Track & Field: 2014 West Season Recap

Written by Brittany Goncar on .

Here are some of the highlights from West performers during the 2014 track season.

*The Beaver boys won their first WPIAL Class AA team title in more years than anyone can remember. Junior Chris DiNuzzo was a driving force this year by winning the javelin at WPIALs and went on to place sixth at PIAA. Alex Tolbert also racked points at WPIALs with a second-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles. The 3,200-meter relay team of Tolbert, Franklin Martone, Jesse Council, Riley Lamison, Luke and Jake Pittner took second at WPIALs. Other Beaver athletes in the top 10 at WPIALs include Council (800), Lamison (1,600), Kyle Grimm (high jump, pole vault) and Cody Plane (shot put).

*Riverside boys placed finished the season fifth in the PIAA and second in the WPIAL. They won the 1,600-meter relay at both WPIAL and PIAA championships. That team was made up of Matt and Aaron Tedys, Marcel Cleckley and Zak Gold. Aaron Tedys placed third in the 400-meter run and sixth in the long jump at WPIALs. He went on to take fourth in the 400 at PIAAs. Austin Sheridan took gold in the discus at both WPIALs and PIAA. Matt Tedys (800), Cleckley (300 hurdles) and Logan Sheridan (high jump) all had top 10 performances at WPIALs.

*Beaver Falls benefited from a strong performance by Dom Peretta this season. He won both the 800 and the 1,600 at the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA championships this year.