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Valley stars Harris, McNabb part of 2013 Alle-Kiski Valley class

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Chipper Harris, left, and Ron McNabb celebrate Valley's victory in the 1979 PIAA title game at the Civic Arena. Both players will be inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame on May 17.

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Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame

• 45th induction banquet 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at the Clarion Hotel, New Kensington.

• Tickets $25 each. Contact Skip Beal at 724-337-6282 or Steve Meanor at 724-224-6767. No tickets will be sold at the door.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By George Guido
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

One of the most popular and accomplished teams in local history is the 1979 Valley boys basketball team.

It marked the first time a No. 5 seed from the WPIAL won a PIAA tournament championship.

Two members of that historic team are headed for the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

Ron “Mac” McNabb and Chipper Harris will be two of the eight inductees at the organization's 45th annual banquet May 17 at the Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.

Valley was eliminated by Burrell in the WPIAL quarterfinals, then emerged victorious in a four-team tournament consisting of the four quarterfinal losers.

The Vikings then worked their way through a difficult bracket that consisted of Altoona, Pittsburgh South Hills, defending state champion Schenley, Beaver Falls and, finally, the state title game over Allentown's William Allen High School.

McNabb, the team's point guard, was third-team all-state and played four years at IUP, where he still ranks among the all-time leaders in assists.

Now a coach with Knoch, McNabb has piloted the Knights, Valley and Burrell to WPIAL playoff berths.

Harris went on to star at Robert Morris, leading the Colonials to their first two NCAA Tournament berths.

Also, Harris led the nation in steals twice while at Robert Morris.

The other 2014 inductees:

• Frank B. Fuhrer III. After a great golf career at Fox Chapel, Fuhrer III had an outstanding run at North Carolina, helping end Wake Forest's ACC dominance.

Since 2002, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association honors the region's top collegiate golfer with the Frank Fuhrer III award.

• Kelly Morda. The first local girls basketball player to attain 2,000 career points, Morda helped Ford City make it to the PIAA semifinals in 1998. She went on to become St. Vincent College's second all-time scorer and now teaches and coaches at Riverview.

• N.W. “Skip” Cady. A 1970 Oakmont High School graduate, Cady was an all-state selection in football and played high school baseball for the Oaks and the community's American Legion program before heading to Clarion University.

Cady is Vice President of Consolidated Resorts in Las Vegas and Maui.

• Jay Kumar. In 1977, Kumar led Riverview to the first conference title in school history and led the WPIAL in rushing yards with 1,580. In 1980, he was a member of the Clarion team that won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Kumar caught a TD pass in the 15-14 win over Kutztown in the title game.

• Dave Szlachetka. A Burrell and Shippensburg graduate, Szlachetka is associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Shady Side Academy. In the last eight seasons, his defensive units have never given up more than 17.2 ppg.

• A posthumous selection will be Jim Marino, who coached Arnold High School to the 1965 WPIAL baseball title. He also coached football and won three American Legion section titles in Springdale.

Marino died in 2010.

Also scheduled to be honored at the banquet are Valley News Dispatch offensive football Player of the Year, Jesse Zelonka of Apollo-Ridge, defensive Player of the Year Allan Cratsenberg of Highlands, boys soccer Player of the Year Tom Spagnolo of Burrell and girls soccer Player of the Year Aaliyah Odom of Plum.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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