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Swimming: West Feature Athlete - West Allegheny's Casey Tokarski (2014)

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Name: Casey Tokarski
High School: West Allegheny
Grade: 12
Sport: Swimming

Casey Tokarski is the next in a long line of swimmers, veteran West Allegheny head coach Bob Miller will send to a collegiate program. Tokarski recently committed to swim at Edinboro University. Last season Tokarski won WPIAL gold, anchoring a West Allegheny 200 medley relay. The West Allegheny senior will play a pivotal role in the Indians ability to compete in their new classification, Class AAA.

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Swimming: Moon looking to find wins in brutal Section 2-AAA

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Wins are often tough to come by in Section 2-AAA, a dominant section of large schools headlined by North Allegheny. Moon is the smallest school competing in the section that also features Butler, North Hills, Pine Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler. The Tigers finished 2-10 last season but they qualified five swimmers and one diver for WPIALs. They did not place any points at WPIALs but they did finish fifth at the MAC championships in February.

Coach Zac Gebhardt's top returner is junior Andrew Morgan. A talented distance freestyler, Morgan qualified for WPIALs in the 200 and 500 freestyle last season where he placed 36th and 30th respectively. Joining Morgan is junior Ryan Merow and sophomore Liam Vespignani, two swimmers who qualified for WPIALs as parts of relays last season. Senior diver Mitch Skidmore also returns this season. He reached the WPIAL diving championships a year ago.

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Swimming: After surprise season, Cornell poised for more gains

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Of all the top ten finishers in the WPIAL Class AA team standings, perhaps Cornell's placement was one of the most unexpected. Cornell took tenth place, amassing 81 team points at WPIALs last season. With a majority of those swimmers back, a repeat performance, if not better, would not be unexpected this season. The returnees are headlined by senior Cole Tipper. Tipper finished fourth at WPIALs last season in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. He was also a part of the team's best relay, the 200 medley relay, along with Logan Donahue, Dan Joyce and Colton Claytor. That 200 medley relay reached states. Claytor has since graduated by Donahue, a senior and Joyce, a sophomore, both return this season. Joyce was an individual WPIAL qualifier in the 100 breaststroke while Donahue was an individual WPIAL qualifier in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Cornell finished 9-7 last season. Senior Braylon Zilner, a WPIAL qualifier as part of two relays, also returns.

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Swimming: Hopewell to rebuild around Palochak

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

After a strong 2013-14 campaign, Hopewell was decimated by graduation. The Vikings finished as high as second in the 200 medley relay at WPIALs last season but three-fourths of that relay has graduated, and very few if any Class AA programs can simply replace that kind of speed. Jake Smallwood, Jake Kennedy and Noah Repman, all PIAA qualifiers last season, have all graduated. Smallwood posted top ten finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyle at WPIALs, Kennedy was 15th in the 100 butterfly and Repman took seventh in the 100 backstroke.

Hopewell does boast one of the top returnees in the WPIAL in junior Logan Palochak. An individual state qualifier last season, Palochak took fifth at WPIALs in the 100 butterfly and won his second WPIAL silver medal with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke.

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Football: 2014 Post-Gazette Player of the Year - Jordan Whitehead

Written by Mike White on .

Mike White profiles the 2014 Post-Gazette Player of the Year, Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead.

"Jordan Whitehead remembers his youth-league football days quite well.

"Back then, I was so much faster than everybody," Whitehead said. "It seemed like almost every time I touched the ball, I scored on a long run."

For Whitehead, his senior year of high school football imitated his youth-league days.

Whitehead played at Central Valley and many Warriors opponents got plenty of good looks at his back. Game after game, he sped by defenders and scored touchdowns on big plays. In 16 games this season, he scored 35 touchdowns and did it five different ways. The average length of those touchdowns was 43.7 yards. Whithead ran the ball 148 times this season and scored a touchdown once every six times."

 

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Hockey: Indians’ rally come up just short against Shaler

Written by Keith Barnes on .

West Allegheny had an opportunity Tuesdayto go into its final game before the holiday break sporting a .500 record.

Shaler, though, had other ideas as the Titans jumped out to a 5-1 first-period lead, then held on through a furious Indians comeback for a 6-5 victory at BladeRunners in Harmarville.

 

Ryan Rohal and Ryan Rohm each had two goals for West Allegheny (4-6-0) in the loss.

 

West Allegheny will have another chance to get back within a game of .500 when it hosts Armstrong on Tuesdayat Airport Ice Arena in its final game of the year.

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Hockey: Warriors looking to into Christmas break with winning record

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Central Valley will have had 11 days off before it plays its final Class B game before the break on Mondayagainst Ringgold.

And, with a win, the Warriors will move over .500 for the fifth time this season.

 

Central Valley (4-4-2) is a surprising .500 team in that it is one of the few teams with an even record to be outscored by 18 goals. The Warriors have scored 29 goals, led by 11 goals and 19 points from Cameron Drake, and given up 47.

 

In its last game, Central Valley surrendered a shorthanded goal to Ethan Sunder and Mark Richardson chipped in a goal and an assist to lead Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to a 3-1 victory on Dec. 11.

Ringgold is led by Emery Anden with 10 goals and 16 points.

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Hockey: West Feature Athlete – OLSH’s Mark Richardson

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Name: Mark Richardson

School: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Grade: 12

Sport: Hockey

 

Background: Is one of the leading scorers for the Crusaders this season with seven goals, 14 points, a team-best two shorthanded goals is one of the team’s best two-way players on the team. Moved from defense to forward this season and helped Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to overcome a slow start and vault into the postseason hunt in the Class C developmental league

 

OLSH coach Derrick Smith:“He’s one of our alternate captains and, when I brought up the change from defense to forward to him, he was all for it because everybody wants to score goals and he said he would do anything for the tea that we asked him to.”

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Craig Meyer's West High School Basketball Notebook (Dec. 18, 2014)

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Here's this week's edition of Craig Meyer's West High School Basketball Notebook.

"Not even a month's worth of games have been played yet in WPIAL basketball this season, so it's obviously too early to make any kind of definitive or sweeping judgments on certain players or teams.

With that being said, one thing has become pretty clear with this small sample size of games -- the Bishop Canevin boys basketball team has made some noteworthy strides.

Four games into the 2014-15 season, the Crusaders have already accomplished a lot more than most observers would have expected, even at this early juncture in the season.

At 4-0 through their first four games, they have already matched their win total from last season, when they went 4-18 and finished in last place in Class AA Section 4."

 

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Boys Basketball: Lofty goals set for Beaver Falls

Written by Joe Koch on .

Joe Koch profiles the Beaver Falls boys basketball team.

"The one quality that Doug Biega doesn't lack is confidence.

His Beaver Falls High School boys basketball team showed plenty of that as his Tigers -- ranked No. 2 in the Post-Gazette's Class AAA preseason basketball rankings -- defeated No. 1 Ambridge Area, 63-56, in the Class AAA, Section 2 opener for both teams this past Friday.

"We always expect to win the WPIAL and [PIAA] championships," Biega said as his 4-0 Tigers prepared for a game Tuesday against visiting Blackhawk. "There's so much we need to improve on, but I'm happy with where we are right now."

That sentiment especially applies to an offense that is averaging 70 points a game and features four players scoring in double figures."

 

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Football: Title game loss stings Central Valley

Written by John D'Abruzzo on .

John D'Abruzzo profiles the Central Valley football team.

2014 1218 CentralValley Football(Photo: Jordan Whitehead and the Central Valley football team bowed out in the PIAA Class AAA championship game last Friday at Hersheypark Stadium. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

"Considering Central Valley had been playing near-perfect football all season, losing last weekend in the state championship game and finishing the year with only one loss made it tough to accept.

The Warriors witnessed their season end following a 33-14 defeat last Saturday afternoon in the PIAA Class AAA title game against Archbishop Wood at Hersheypark Stadium. Central Valley (15-1), which last month captured its second WPIAL championship during its five-year existence, also missed out on being the first district team to win a Class AAA state title since 2008.

"Every loss is disappointing, especially when you suffer that first loss of the season," Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. "Playing in the state championship and losing makes it more tough.

"When we started to reflect on the season, there wasn't any more that we could give in that last game. It was a great season with a phenomenal group of young men who enjoyed coming to practice every day and who enjoyed every aspect of the season.""

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Hockey: OLSH regroups under new coach

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart hockey team.

"Considering that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is only in its second season fielding a hockey team, there were inevitably going to be some growing pains and adversity within the program.

What may have been unexpected was just how quickly the young Crusaders made up of a mish-mash of players from several different school districts could rally and turn a potentially devastating bench shakeup into an amazing turnaround in the PIHL Class C developmental league.

Three games into the season, head coach Jaymes Dougherty stepped down for what he cited as personal reasons and 26-year-old Derrick Smith, who had never coached at the varsity level, took over the role. At the time, OLSH was 1-2-0 and still searching for an identity, but with the change in personnel came a philosophical juxtaposition that may have saved the season.

"As far as the transition, it was a little bit difficult because everybody sees the game a different way," Smith said. "You come in and teach the kids one way and ... I give the kids credit for sticking with us to this point.""

 

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Wrestling: Baptist minister has calling as Beaver coach, too

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Beaver wrestling coach Dale Regner. Read his story below.

Dale Regner considers himself "an interim coach," even though he's entering his third season as the varsity wrestling coach at Beaver Area High School.

Perhaps that attitude might have something to do with his "day job."

Regner loves the sport of wrestling, but his calling is as a Baptist minister.

"I'm the pastor of Cannelton Baptist Church, which is located in Darlington, near Beaver Falls," Regner said. "I've been the pastor there for 27 years."

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Alumni Update - Beka Bellhy (Washington & Jefferson)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Led by four players in double figures, the Washington & Jefferson women'sBeka Bellhy WJ basketball team earned a 77-55 Presidents' Athletic Conference win over Thiel at Henry Memorial Center.

The win improves W&J to 6-1 on the season with an unblemished 3-0 mark in PAC games. Thiel slips to 1-8 overall and 0-3 in the league.

Beka Bellhy, a Fort Cherry graduate, led all players with 16 points and added six boards, three steals and two assists. 

 

(photo courtesy of Washington & Jefferson College)

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Alumni Update - Tyler Damazo (Geneva)

Written by Drew Karpen on .

Latrobe, PA – The Robert Carey Center at St. Vincent has been a house of horrors for the Geneva College men’s basketballDamazo Geneva team. On their trip in last year, the Golden Tornadoes lost by 15, but the score really didn’t indicate the game.


Geneva was led by senior Tyler Damazo, a Blackhawk graduate, with 17 points.
 

 

(photo courtesy of Geneva College)

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Boys Basketball: West Feature Athlete - Beaver Falls' Josh Creach

Written by staff reports on .

Name: Josh Creach
High School: Beaver Falls
Grade: 10
Sport: Boys Basketball
Position: Forward

Background: One of the best-known basketball powers around, Beaver Falls got fans' attention this past off-season when the Tigers chose to play up in Class AAA, after years of domination in Class AA. Part of making that transition easier is that Beaver Falls has a pair of 6-foot-6 sophomores in Donovan Jeter and Josh Creach. Creach has stepped into the limelight early this season, averaging over 20 points in Beaver Falls' first four games, all wins. He was especially dominant against Mohawk, scoring 34 points and missing just two shots all game – one from the floor and one from the charity stripe.

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Boys Basketball: Lincoln Park has adjusted well

Written by Brad Everett on .

A lot has changed for the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion Lincoln Park Leopards since last season.

First of all, the Leopards won't have the chance to defend their titles as realignment moved them up to Class AA. In addition, three of the main cogs of that championship are playing elsewhere – Elijah Minnie and Ryan Skovranko at Robert Morris and Maverick Rowan is in high school in Florida. Add in that head coach Mark Javens is benched by an illness at the start of the season and there would be reason to think this could be a season of transition.

Anyone who did think that way would need to think again, however. The Leopards have won their first three games – never winning by less than 24. In its first Class AA section game, Lincoln Park outscored New Brighton 93-63 as Nelly Cummings scored 36 and Antonio Kellem 22. Those are the two returning starters so the transition to AA appears to be under control.

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Boys Basketball: Cornell looking to return to the playoffs

Written by staff reports on .

Last season, Cornell had the unique distinction of having a winning record but not reaching the playoffs. The Raiders are looking to avoid that distinction this year and are off to a good start, winning their first section game of the season, 67-51 over Western Beaver.

It's the way the Raiders won, more than that they did, that means the most of their playoff chances. Cornell had four different players score in double figures, led by Dane Jackson. Jackson was well-known to local fans during football season but in a different uniform – he was the quarterback at Quaker Valley as part of a co-op arrangement and will play football at Pitt next season.

Jackson, though, wasn't forced to score anywhere near half his team's points as Blake Lipke had 17 points, Shawn Puskar had 12 and Devin Hines 11. The 6-6 Hines played at Moon last year and was one of the better big men in that Class AAAA section. He'll definitely be a difference in a Class A section (without Lincoln Park).