Jason Mackey Column

Top 10 winter sports moments

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Now that the holiday has passed – Opening Day, not that other one – I thought we’d take a look back at the top 10 moments from the local winter sports season.


10. Following a 20-point loss to Burrell in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals, the McGuffey girls basketball team talked about how all good things must end.


Only this one didn’t.


Bishop Canevin upset Seton-La Salle in the WPIAL final, meaning the Highlanders, who hadn’t so much as practiced since the loss to the Bucs, cranked it up again … and travelled to Erie.


“I didn’t think this would happen,” sophomore Sammie Weiss said at the time. Neither did most other humans.


9. A few days before the season began, the South Fayette boys basketball team learned it would be without last year’s leading scorer, Zach Challingsworth, because of a sports hernia suffered playing football.


Though Challingsworth returned three games into the season after the injury turned out to be not as serious as expected, Evan Bonnaure took over the scoring duties. The Lions leaned on the senior trio of Challingsworth, Bonnaure and C.J. Rudisill.


8. The South Fayette girls swim and dive team won its first section title in 15 years and its first-ever WPIAL Class AA title.


Coach Matt Tucker got his head shaved. Morgan Fink won the 100-yard breaststroke. The Lions celebrated with a leap into the water at Pitt’s Trees Pool.


How confident was South Fayette that it could win WPIAL gold? After getting out of the water, Tucker grabbed the pack of dry clothes he had packed.


7. Morgan Berardi scored her 1,000th point. Then California’s Tanner Huffman. Then … well, five more.


Seven players reached 1,000 career points, a busy and successful season for area hoopers.


6. Saying the decision was made because of McGuffey’s vocational agriculture program, Patrick Frey left Trinity.


Trinity protested, but the transfer was upheld at a WPIAL Board of Control meeting.


Now, Frey figures to contribute quite a bit on the baseball diamond and form one heck of a backfield with James Duchi on the football field this fall.


In case you were wondering what Trinity thought of the whole ordeal, I wouldn’t hold your breath. None of Trinity’s administrators would comment.


5. Call Solomon Chisko this year’s Marco Scutaro. Or Jonathan Quick. The guy who shines in the postseason.


Despite fracturing his elbow prior to the season, Chisko, a junior at Canon-McMillan, returned for the postseason and won WPIAL and PIAA gold. I’ve always thought the regular season was overrated anyway.


4. Peters Township hockey won 15 consecutive games, dominating PIHL Class AAA competition for much of the year.


But the Indians’ quest for their first league title since 2005 and fifth overall fell short at Consol Energy Center – for a third consecutive year.


“That’s the worst part about this whole thing,” Peters Township coach Rick Tingle said. “Bad way to end the year once, let alone three times. It’s tough.”


3. Wow. That was the first “sentence” of Joe Tuscano’s story the day after Canon-McMillan’s Cody Wiercioch wrestled Kennard-Dale’s Chance Marsteller at the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament, the bout living up to its considerable hype as nearly 3,000 packed Canon-Mac’s gym.


Marstellar won, 3-2, on an escape in the fourth overtime period, forcing Tuscano to re-enact the match no fewer than 20 times at the O-R office.


Another “Wow” moment came when Wiercioch ultimately won his third PIAA title.


2. Youngstown State, Rutgers and Connecticut are one thing. But when Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops and Frank Beamer start barking up your tree? Safe to say you’ve made it at that point.


This winter Shai McKenzie’s recruiting trail turned from the Montour to the Oregon. A national recruit, he remains in no hurry to commit. Can’t blame him whatsoever. Enjoy it, Shai.


1. I’m not sure which is more impressive: the Canon-McMillan wrestling team winning four consecutive WPIAL Team Tournament championships – a first – or understanding the structure of how the PIAA awards its titles.


It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if the PIAA handed out team wrestling titles at the basketball championships next year. Or, for that matter, at Denny’s.


In any case, Canon-McMillan solidified its dynasty status by winning its fifth PIAA title in the past three years.


That was possible because, of course, a team title is awarded at the individual championships. Or at least I think that’s how it works.



Jason Mackey can be reached at jmackey@observer-reporter.com


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