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Charleroi, Cal hoping to end long droughts

- California girls' basketball coach Chris Minerd has the Lady Trojans off to their best start in years.
California girls' basketball coach Chris Minerd has the Lady Trojans off to their best start in years.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent - Joe Grodz
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jim Ference | The Valley Independent</em></div>Joe Grodz
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent - Charleroi's head basketball coach Bill Wiltz.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jim Ference | The Valley Independent</em></div>Charleroi's head basketball coach Bill Wiltz.

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Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

There is no doubt that Monessen basketball fans have been spoiled over the years.

With the boys' basketball team in the WPIAL playoffs for the 33rd consecutive year and the girls' team in the postseason for the 25th straight year, it's easy to understand why that might happen.

Throw in multiple WPIAL championships and a combined three state titles since 1989, and Greyhound fans could be excused for feeling the WPIAL playoffs are part of the regular season schedule.

However, not every school has experienced that level of playoff success. In fact, three local teams are hoping to end playoff droughts so long that, in two cases, nobody knows if or when the last time the team won a postseason game.

The Charleroi boys' and girls' teams, along with California's girls have a chance to end their respective misery this weekend.

The Cougars (13-7) meet Chartiers-Houston (16-6) in Class AA with a chance to pick up the program's first playoff win since 1997.

Charleroi's last boys' playoff victory was a 46-45 win over Steel Valley in a game where Bill Wagner scored 28 points.

It was Bill Wiltz's first year as head coach.

“I remember we lost the next game against Chartiers Valley and then went into the state playoffs and lost to Peabody,” said Wiltz. “We were in Class AAA back then.”

Nobody seems to know if Charleroi's girls have ever won a playoff game.

The Lady Cougars have made the playoffs in each of the last 10 seasons, but have lost in the first round each time.

“To my knowledge I don't ever know if we have won a playoff game,” said Grodz, whose team (17-5) takes on Shenango (12-9) in a AA preliminary game Friday.

“If we ever won a (girls') playoff game, I don't know about it,” Wiltz said.

Grodz said his players are excited about ending the drought Friday night against Shenango.

In Class A, the California girls (17-3) go up against Cornell (12-10) Saturday.

Cal coach Chris Minerd said he did some checking and couldn't find any playoff wins in the program's history.

“What I do know is we won the second section title in the school's history (this season) and the 1982 team (that won the first title) was 20-1 and lost its first playoff game,” Minerd said. “If any other team won a playoff game, I don't know about it.”

However, the school does have at least one postseason win.

In 1993, California defeated Bentworth, 48-28, in the first round of the Class A playoffs before losing to Serra, 91-32, in the second round. That team went 13-8 and was led by the program's all-time leading scorer, Traci Marcolini.

“Wow, that's a long time ago,” said Minerd when told of the accomplishment. “Well, we hope we can be the next one.”

Directions to Chartiers Valley

Here are directions to Charters Valley for anyone attending playoff games there Friday or Saturday:

Take I-70 to I-79 North. Exit I-79 at the Kirwan Heights/Heidelberg Exit (Exit 55). At the traffic light at the end of the exit ramp, make a left on Route 50.

Travel to the next light and turn left on Thoms Run Road. Travel a short distance. The first left is the driveway to the high school/middle school.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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