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Luko returns to guide California Area boys hoops

| Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It worked once, so the California Area School Board is doing it again.

The Trojans' new boys' basketball coach this season is Steve Luko, who previously coached the Trojans from 2001-02 through 2003-04 seasons. During those three years he compiled a 45-31 cumulative overall record, which included winning 27 of 36 section games.

A 1974 California graduate, Luko replaces longtime highly successful scholastic coach Phil Pergola, who guided the Trojans for the past nine seasons. Pergola resigned earlier this year to return to Ringgold High School, where he previously coached the Rams for 18 seasons.

After guiding his initial Cal team to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals, Luko's 2002-2003 team went 19-5 overall and won the Section 2-A title with an 11-1 mark. The Trojans defeated two-time defending WPIAL champion Monessen to reach the semifinals and also reached the PIAA Class A quarterfinals after state tournament victories over Southern Fulton and Clarion High Schools.

The 2003-04 Trojans went 8-4 in section play and reached the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

Pergola, who has won 579 career games including a Class AAAA state championship at Ringgold in 1995, guided Cal to eight post-season appearances and the 2006-07 Trojans reached the WPIAL Class A championship game.

A native of Daisytown, Luko was also an exceptional baseball player at the scholastic and collegiate levels. Before his first stint as Cal's basketball coach, Luko was the Trojans' softball head coach and also served as the Cal Middle School basketball coach for several years

Arbes kicking

Ringgold High School graduate Bryan Arbes was West Liberty (W.Va.) University's football team's leading scorer.

A 5-foot-8-inch sophomore kicker from Monongahela, Arbes previously played one season at Waynesburg University in 2008.

Through the 11-game 2013 season, Arbes had 69 total points. He converted 19 of 24 field goal attempts and 12 of 13 extra-point attempts. He has made four field goals from 40 yards or longer, including a 42 and 44-yarder in a 27-21 road win at Fairmont State (W.Va.) University on Oct. 12. He added a season-long 48-yard field goal in a 26-9 home loss to the University of Charleston (W.Va.) on Oct. 31. Arbes also punted 14 times for a 39 yard per punt average and six of his punts pinning the opponents inside their own 20.

This is West Liberty's first season in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) after being a charter member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The WVIAC folded this past July after 89 years of existence.

The WVIAC, through help from the West Virginia Department of Education, began in 1924. Other charter schools along with West Liberty were Alderson, Bethany, Broaddus, Concord, Davis & Elkins, Fairmont State, Glenville State, Marshall, Morris Harvey (Charleston), New River State (WVU Tech), Potomac State, Salem, Shepherd, West Liberty State, West Virginia University and West Virginia Wesleyan.

WVU exited the league in 1927 and conference moved from NAIA to the NCAA Division II level in 1994.

Other former WVIAC universities that compete in the Mountain East Conference along with West Liberty are: Charleston, Concord, Fairmont State, Shepherd, West Virginia State, West Virginia Wesleyan, Wheeling-Jesuit and Glenville State College.

Arbes was one of 10 Hilltoppers to earn all-conference honors this past season and he was a second-team selection. His 19 field goals led the MEC and ranked third nationally in NCAA Division II.

At Waynesburg he led all Yellow Jackets in scoring with 68 points and received first-team All-President's Athletic Conference honors after kicking 13 field coals and 29 extra-point attempts. He kicked a school record four field goals in a 34-26 home loss to Thomas Moore (Crestview Heights, Ky.) that season, including a 49-yards field goal. Arbes ranked fifth among all NCAA Division III placekickers in 2008 and was six of eight on field goal attempts from the 40-49 yard range.

At Ringgold, Arbes was a two-time All-Keystone Conference selection.

The son of Brad and Debbie Arbes, he is majoring in health and physical education at West Liberty and was a 2012 redshirt.

West Liberty finished the 2013 season with a 3-8 overall record and 3-6 conference mark.

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer.

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