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Swimming: Blackhawk freshmen shine as Cougars place sixth at WPIALs

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Blackhawk freshmen Skye Fogle and Marcella Puglia made big impacts for the Cougars in their WPIAL debut last week at the Class AA championships. Fogle and Puglia swam the 200 yard medley relay with juniors Erin Bain and Caitlyn Peace that placed third. Puglia placed ninth in her first individual event, the 200 freestyle and Peace placed eighth in the 200 IM. Puglia later followed that up with a tenth place finish in the 100 freestyle as did Peace in the 100 breaststroke. Fogle gave the Cougars another top ten finish when she swam the 100 butterfly in 1:01.62 to take tenth. She duplicated that finish in the 100 backstroke. A different trio of freshmen joined with senior diver/swimmer Elizabeth Bigley in the 200 freestyle relay that finished ninth. The freshmen were Jessica Heymann, Abbey Uebelacker and Carly Campbell. Blackhawk capped the meet with its best swim of the event, the 400 freestyle relay. Fogle, Peace, Bain and Puglia swam the relay in 3:42.19 to place second overall.

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Swimming: West Feature Athlete - Hopewell's Logan Palochak (2015)

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Name: Logan Palochak
High School: Hopewell
Grade: 11
Sport: Swimming

Background: It was a rebuilding year for the Hopewell boys swim team but that did not stop junior Logan Palochak from having big individual success. He left the WPIAL Class AA championships with a silver and gold medal. He swam the 100 yard butterfly in 51.84 to take the silver behind only Brian Uhrin, a senior at Greensburg Central Catholic, who finished with a time of 51.29. On the second day of WPIALs, Palochak claimed a gold medal when he swam the 100 backstroke in 52.19 to beat Hampton senior Ben Kocsis by 0.10. Palochak also anchored two Hopewell relays that finished fourth and sixth.

 

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Swimming: West Allegheny steps up a class, finishes in top 10

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Repeating as WPIAL champions was essentially out of the question for the West Allegheny girls swimming and diving team when they heard the news they would be moving from Class AA to Class AAA this season. The Indians had won two of the past three WPIAL Class AA team titles. In their first year in Class AAA, West Allegheny was not overwhelmed. The Indians placed tenth in a very competitive field. West Allegheny totaled 71 points to place tenth just ahead of Hampton (67) and North Hills (62) and just behind Seneca Valley (75).

Two West Allegheny relays placed in the top ten, starting with the 200 yard medley relay swam by sophomores Jessica Wasek, Kaylee Musiol and Nicole Kadlecik and junior Hannah Charlton. In the 200 freestyle relay, senior Casey Tokarski, Kadlecik, Charlton and Musiol placed eighth.

Individually, Charlton swam the 100 butterfly in 58.69 to place seventh and Musiol was not far behind, placing 11th with a time of 59.17.

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Brad Everett's West High School Basketball Notebook (Feb. 27, 2015)

Written by Brad Everett on .

Here's this week's edition of Brad Everett's West High School Basketball Notebook.

"All four schools that won WPIAL boys basketball titles last season were faced with major challenges this season. Not only was the pressure there that comes along with being a "defending champ," but all had to replace the majority of their starters.

One of those schools was defending Class AAA champion Central Valley, which after some early struggles came on strong and put together a solid season while competing in arguably the toughest section in the classification.

Entering this week, Central Valley was the only returning champ that had been eliminated from becoming repeat winners. The Warriors (11-11) closed their season with a 57-48 loss to Indiana in a first-round game last week.

Central Valley coach Brandon Ambrose said Indiana's length and athleticism was the difference. The Warriors trailed, 18-17, at the half, but Indiana outscored the Warriors, 16-5, in the third quarter to pull away."

 

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Boys Basketball: Ambridge's playoff run yields PIAA bid

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Drew Karpen profiles the Ambridge boys basketball team.

2015 0227 Ambridge BBasketball(Photo: Ambridge's Daylon Carter gets a shot up against Mars' Ryan Giallonardo in a WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal game last Friday night at North Hills. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"Last Friday wasn't a good night for top-seeded teams in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

In all, three No. 1 seeds fell, including in Class AAA boys. After rattling off 17 consecutive wins, Mars Area was upended by No. 9 Ambridge Area, 46-45.

"They were excited to see how it played out and the significance of it," Ambridge coach Mark Jula said. "This is only like the third or fourth time in school history we advanced to the semifinals."

The Bridgers (16-8) ​lost to Indiana, 54-45, in the WPIAL semifinals Tuesday night, but they had already clinched a spot in the PIAA tournament thanks to the upset of Mars."

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Boys Basketball: Senior guard helps Beaver Falls to final

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

John D'Abruzzo profiles the Beaver Falls boys basketball team.

"At the beginning of this season, Javon Turner wasn't all that impressed with Beaver Falls' boys basketball team.

"I knew we needed to be better," said Turner, a senior guard. "We were just a basic team, but we worked hard in practice and started to get better and better.

"With each game, we started to see the improvements and wanted to keep getting better."

Those early-season adjustments helped propel Beaver Falls (22-2) back into the WPIAL semifinals as well as earning a berth into the PIAA Class AAA playoffs. The Tigers edged New Castle, 52-49, in the WPIAL Class AAA tournament Tuesday night at Geneva College."

 

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Hockey: Moon prepares for a run in PIHL playoffs

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Moon hockey team.

"When Moon takes the ice tonight against West Allegheny for its regular-season finale, winning won't be the foremost thing on the agenda.

Instead the Tigers will be using the matchup with their conference rival as a tune-up for what they hope will be a lengthy run in the PIHL Class AA playoffs.

"We don't have to worry about the pressure that we have to win to get in just to have a chance," Moon coach Scott Kubatka said. "We've worked to earn that opportunity and now we can take a step back and focus on what we're doing and what we're all about as opposed to having to do something just to get in."

Moon (12-5-0) has been locked into second place in the Western Conference ever since a 4-2 loss at Erie Cathedral Prep (17-2-0) on Jan. 29 gave the Ramblers an insurmountable lead. The Tigers shook off that defeat and have rebounded well as they approach the postseason."

 

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Wrestling: Avella pair gain regional berths

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles Avella wrestlers Nick Kusich and Jared Graham.

"Avella Area will be sending two wrestlers to the two-day PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional qualifier that begins today at Canon-McMillan High School.

Just because the Eagles had a modicum of success, though, does not mean they are entirely happy with their overall performance at last weekend's WPIAL championship match.

"Some of them wrestled good and just had tough draws and some of them didn't wrestle well," Avella coach Jeremy Allen said. "Our [performance] is hard to evaluate because we had a lot of injuries this year and I think we would have fared better if we didn't have so many injuries, but it is what it is."

Senior Nick Kusich came closest to pulling off a dramatic feat for the hampered program as he pushed through to the semifinals in the 145-pound weight class before he lost, 3-1, in a tiebreaker against Mount Pleasant senior Austin Mears. Walking off the mat after coming so close was difficult to take and his pain was felt through the entire team."

 

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Wrestling: West coaches welcome fourth PIAA berth

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley reports that West Xtra coaches are elated about the district gaining a fourth PIAA berth. Read his story below.

The odds of qualifying for the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Tournament have increased for wrestlers entered in this weekend's WPIAL/Southwest Region tournament at Penn Hills.

The PIAA expanded its brackets from 16 to 20 entries in each class. That means the top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament in Class AAA. Instead of having 42 entries, the WPIAL will have 56 qualifiers.

"It's long overdue," West Allegheny coach Mike Johnson said. "When you consider how strong the WPIAL is, we deserve to have four berths. I wish they would have done this years ago."

It's been 13 years since the WPIAL had four wrestlers in each weight class going to Hershey. The WPIAL had four PIAA berths in Class AAA during a 28-year stretch, from 1975 until 2002, and a total of 45 fourth-place finishers earned PIAA place-winner status during that stretch.

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Boys Basketball: Beaver Falls riding sophomores to final

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles Beaver Falls basketball standouts Josh Creach and Donovan Jeter.

2015 0227 BeaverFalls BBasketball(Photo: Beaver Falls' Josh Creach, left, and Donovan Jeter, right. John Heller/Post-Gazette)

"This dominating combo thing has some history to it with Donovan Jeter and Josh Creach.

"Second grade, 2006," Jeter was saying. "We were defensive linemen together on a pee-wee football team, went 10-0, won the championship and didn't let anyone score all year."

Eight years later, the only thing that has changed with this combo is the sport. The dominating remains the same.

Jeter and Creach are now a two-headed monster for the Beaver Falls basketball team, a pair of 6-foot-5 forwards who are the top two scorers and rebounders for the Tigers. But here's the unusual thing about them: they are only sophomores."

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Hockey: OLSH needs help after late-season collapse

Written by Keith Barnes on .

A few weeks ago it appeared a foregone conclusion that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart would capture the Class C wild card and roll into the PIHL Division 2 playoffs.

 

All the Chargers needed was one win in their final seven games and they would be in.

Instead OLSH inexplicably collapsed, went on a seven-game losing streak and now its postseason future is in serious question.

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Hockey: Indians to play Latrobe in first round

Written by Keith Barnes on .

West Allegheny has one game remaining in the regular season, a showdown with rival Moon, but no matter what happens the Indians postseason fate is already sealed.

 

At the end of that game, West Allegheny will enter the PIHL Class AA tournament as the No. 5 team out of the Western Conference and will play Eastern Conference No. 4 Latrobe at a neutral site at a date and time to be determined.

 

Latrobe won the only regular season game between the two, 2-1.

 

This will be an interesting matchup for both teams as each has an all-star goaltender, West Allegheny with Anthony Dominick and Latrobe with Timothy Ruppen, that key solid defenses that belie their finish in the standings.

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Hockey: West Feature Athlete – Moon’s Justin Bioni

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Name: Justin Bioni

School: Moon

Grade: 12

Sport: Hockey

 

Background: An all-star defenseman, Bioni has scored 10 goals this season and is tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals. Had a hat trick Dec. 18 in a game against Norwin and a two-goal game against Baldwin on Oct. 16. Is a dangerous player at both ends of the ice and can shut down opponents in the defensive zone.

 

Moon coach Scott Kubatka: “He’s our captain and he’s got a huge shot back there. There’s been multiple times throughout the season where we just look at each other and wonder how that did not go in. It’s going to be huge when those shots start going in and her certainly earns the opportunities he gets with all the hard work.”

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Alumni Update - Seairra Barrett (California University of Pennsylvania)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

California's Seairra Barrett scored in double-digits in both games while coming off the bench last week. The freshman forward averaged 12Barrett CalU points, 4.0 rebounds in 57 minutes of action.

 

She shot a combined 64.7% (11-of-17) from the floor and totaled three blocks for the Vulcans. Barrett set a career-high and led the team with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and added five rebounds and one block in a victory over Seton Hill.

 

The Central Valley product then posted 10 points, three rebounds, and two blocks in an overtime loss to Gannon.


Barrett earned PSAC West Freshman of the Week honors. 

 

(photo courtesy of California University of Pennsylvania)

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Alumni Update - Jaclyn Watkins (Thiel)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

 

GROVE CITY, Pa. – Junior forward Jaclyn Watkins became the 14th Thiel College women's basketball player to score 1,000 points in herWatkins Thiel career in a 66-46 loss to the Grove City Wolverines in the opening round of the 2015 Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Championship Tournament Monday night.

Watkins, an Aliquippa graduate, scored her 1,000 point with five minutes left in the first half on a layup that was assisted by Erin DiFalco.

Watkins made 8-of-14 shots from the field Monday and finished with 17 points and six rebounds. 

 

(photo courtesy of Thiel College)

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Alumni Update - Alexa Hayward (Saint Francis)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

NEW BRITAIN, Conn.– The Saint Francis University women's basketball team was leading by five at halftime, but struggled in the secondHayward SFU half and fell on the road, 72-59, to Central Connecticut on Monday night.

SFU was outscored 41-23 in the second period and even though they held a lead for the entire first half it could not recover.

Alexa Hayward, a Blackhawk graduate, had an unbelievable first frame as she scored 22 points, but the Blue Devils keyed in on her defensively in half two and only allowed her one basket.

 

(photo courtesy of Saint Francis University)

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Alumni Update - Chaquille Pratt (Slippery Rock)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

CLARION, Pa.– The Slippery Rock University men's basketball team continued its disappointing play away from Morrow Field House with aPratt SRU 72-70 upset loss Sunday afternoon on the road at Clarion in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division action.

The loss drops The Rock to two games under .500 on the road this season at 5-7 and marks the second loss of the week. Slippery Rock sees its records fall to 18-9 overall and 13-8 in PSAC games.

The loss Sunday will also likely be costly for the team's hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Slippery Rock was ranked sixth in the initial regional rankings that were announced by the NCAA Wednesday, but has since lost two games, including a road loss at No. 3 Indiana and the loss to unranked Clarion.

Lost in the disappointment of the result Sunday was another outstanding performance from Chaquille Pratt, a Lincoln Park graduate, who scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double.

 

(Photo courtesy of Slippery Rock University)

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Boys Basketball: Beaver Falls returns to ... Beaver Falls?

Written by staff reports on .

For one of the most talked about playoff matchups in years, Beaver Falls is travelling all the way to Beaver Falls to play New Castle tonight. The game will be played at Geneva College's Metheny Fieldhouse, also in Beaver Falls. In fact, Beaver Falls plays its home football games at Geneva College.

That, however, doesn't mean that the Tigers will have any special home court advantage – the last time Beaver Falls played a post-season game at Geneva was 1994, the last year that Metheny hosted a post-season high school game. That year, a Dante Calabria-led Blackhawk team edged a Troy Nesmith-led Beaver Falls team to a 61-60 win.

No one is exactly sure why it took 23 years before post-season high school basketball to return to Geneva although the high school three-point line being taped down could have something to do with it. New Castle played there Friday night in defeating Hampton as the Red Hurricanes bring a crowd that few high school gyms can hold. New Castle has played there twice this year, losing to Lincoln Park and defeating Hampton.

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Boys Basketball: Ambridge's big week

Written by staff reports on .

Coaches always are concerned entering the playoffs with just one big scoring threat. An illness, foul trouble, or an unexpectedly effective defense can end a season much earlier than had been hoped.

Ambridge coach Mark Jula found a way around that problem, though, as he found two big scorers for the Bridgers opening round win over Uniontown. Daylon Carter scored a career-high 42 points and Darius Lawrence scored a career-high 33 as Ambridge won 84-69.

Those type of records aren't readily available but no one can remember a game when two players combined for so many with such balance. It's easy to imagine that some other player could have scored 12 points the night Tom Richards scored 63 but it's likely no duo ever had such balance.

While a noteworthy feat, though, that became an answer to a bizarre game of trivial pursuit after Friday night's game. In that game, the Bridgers upset top-seeded Mars 46-45 and again the same duo carried the scoring load – Lawrence had 22 and Carter had 21.