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Familiar faces to coach Ringgold teams

| Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jim Ference / the Valley Independent
Ringgold's Phil Pergola has coached 44 years and has an overall record of 584-489.

There will be an old but familiar coaching look with Ringgold High School's boys' and girls' basketball teams this season.

Returning as the boys' head coach is Phil Pergola, who spent the past nine years guiding California Area's program.

One of the winningest scholastic basketball coaches in the state, Pergola has coached 43 years at four schools and has a career record of 579-473.

Pergola began his head coaching career at Mon Valley Catholic, where he won 92 games from 1970 through 1977. He then coached Charleroi High School's basketball team from 1977 through 1986 and won 120 games in nine seasons.

Mon Valley Catholic's 1971-72 and 1972-73 teams compiled season records of 17-8 and 17-6 respectively. Pergola coached the 1983-84 Charleroi team to a 24-5 final overall record and the 1979-80 Cougars went 18-8.

His third and longest coaching tenure was at Ringgold, where he guided the Rams for 18 seasons from 1986-87 through 2003-04.

Pergola won 233 games at Ringgold, including the historic 1995 PIAA Class AAAA championship.

After losing a narrow WPIAL semifinal game to McKeesport in 1995, Ringgold rolled to five straight state tournament wins, including a tense double-overtime win over Erie Cathedral Prep in the Western Region Semifinals.

Ringgold became the first-ever WPIAL team to win the Class AAAA state crown since the PIAA moved to four classifications with a 71-66 victory over Williamsport. The only other WPIAL team to win the Class AAAA state title in boy's basketball heading into 2014 is Penn Hills in 2004.

Pergola's 1989-90 Rams compiled a 29-3 overall record and won the WPIAL Class AAAA title before losing in overtime by two points in the PIAA finals. Ringgold's 1993-94 team went 22-6 overall and advanced to the Western Region semifinals before losing by two points. The longtime educator also retired from a 36-year teaching career after the 2003-04 academic year.

He takes over a Ringgold team that has won just 64 of 216 games since his departure.

At California where he still has served as athletic director this fall, Pergola won 134 games and guided the Trojans to eight WPIAL playoff appearances.

The Trojans played in Class A their first four seasons under Pergola and compiled a 66-35 cumulative record and 35-9 section mark. The 2006-07 team went 24-4 overall and followed a 10-0 section season with three WPIAL playoff victories before losing by one point to Leechburg in the WPIAL championship game. Cal repeated as Section 2-A champions the following season and Pergola's final Cal team went 18-4 overall this past season and won the Section 5-AA crown with a 13-1 mark.

Lady Rams name new coach

Laura Grimm, who had been serving as junior varsity coach at Baldwin High School since 2011, is the new Ringgold girls' basketball head coach.

A 2005 graduate of Serra Catholic High School, Grimm is still the school's career-leading scorer with 1,940 points as well as the leader in three-point baskets (283), steals (391) and assists (497).

She helped the Eagles win two WPIAL championships in 2003 and 2005 with four straight title game appearances. Serra Catholic went 79-9 overall her final three seasons and also won both the WPIAL and PIAA Class A championships Grimm's junior year.

She was named the 2005 Associated Press Pennsylvania State Player of the Year and earned first-team all-state honors in 2005 and 2006. Grimm played collegiate basketball at Colgate University for three years and graduated from there in 2010.

Baldwin went 11-12 last year and defeated Latrobe before losing to North Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. Two years ago the Highlanders went 19-8 overall and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and won two games in the PIAA playoffs.

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer.