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Mid-Mon Valley schools miss out on hosting WPIAL playoffs

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Area gyms have been empty like this one at Monessen the last few years when it came time for the WPIAL to pick sites for playoff games.

In years past, several area schools have hosted WPIAL basketball playoff games.

Ringgold, used to be a common site for weeknight doubleheaders and weekend tripleheaders.

Charleroi has also hosted games in the past, as have Monessen and Belle Vernon Area.

However, in recent years, except for Yough and Elizabeth Forward (this season), the Mid-Mon Valley has been mostly shut out of basketball postseason action.

WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley said the lack of games in the area is not an intentional decision. Instead, he said, the WPIAL uses a formula for picking sites.

“First off, we look at availability,” O'Malley said. “Not everyone wants to host playoff games, and some schools who would like to may already have wrestling or swimming going on there.”

Next, O'Malley said, the WPIAL looks at schools with a history of hosting games. Also figured into the mix is affordability of the site.

And finally, geography.

“We're not going to have a school drive down I-79 past one school willing to host a game to put it at another school that wants to have it,” O'Malley said. “When you are dealing with four or six teams, you try to make the best fit geographically that you can.”

O'Malley admitted, for example, that the WPIAL would have wanted to use Charleroi as a first round site, but Charleroi was hosting the WPIAL Section 2-AA wrestling tournament.

He also said Ringgold could have been a choice, but neighboring Peters Township has a committee member on the WPIAL board and so that school was given games.

Monessen Athletic Director Gina Naccarato said she has requested that her school be used as a site the last two years.

“Monessen would love to host playoff games,” Naccarato said. “We have an excellent facility with ample parking, and I have a full staff willing to work and I am sure we are more than affordable.”

At Ringgold, Athletic Director Ron McMichael said that while his school always puts in to host games, he thinks there could be a cost factor that hurts Ringgold.

“I always put in to host games, but I think the costs here are a little higher than they may be at some other schools.”

Charleroi A.D. Bill Wiltz said he has put in for playoff games for the last decade, seldom getting selected.

“We would love to have games here,” Wiltz said. “Our gym and seating is definitely big enough and we have the parking. Hopefully, we will get something down the line.”

At BVA, Athletic Director Jesse Cramer says he rarely puts in for playoff games. Instead, he waits to get a call from the WPIAL.

“We are willing, but I usually wait for them to call me,” Cramer said. “They have all of our information about our gym and so forth. They called us a couple years ago and we said OK. I figure if they want to use us, they will call us.”

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

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