ShareThis Page

Keystone Oaks sports soared to new heights in 2012

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:57 p.m.
The Keystone Oaks boys basketball team went 20-3 in 2011-12.
Signal Item
The Keystone Oaks boys basketball team went 20-3 in 2011-12.
Nick Zanetta was the runner up at the PIAA tournament.
Signal Item
Nick Zanetta was the runner up at the PIAA tournament.
Keystone Oaks girls basketball coach celebrates with her team during a 2012 WPIAL Class AA playoff game. File photo.
Signal Item
Keystone Oaks girls basketball coach celebrates with her team during a 2012 WPIAL Class AA playoff game. File photo.

The Keystone Oaks Golden Eagles had several special moments during the 2012 season.

A handful of athletes made it to PIAA tournaments, a team claimed a section title and a veteran coach stepped away from his position.

The following are the top stories coming out of Keystone Oaks athletics this past year.

A new era begins

In a move that caught many off guard, Nick Kamberis – who coached the Golden Eagles for 13 seasons and recorded a 65-65 mark – resigned as head coach of the football team, citing personal reasons.

“He has been a true leader at the school,” athletic director Ken Hustava said at the time. “He goes above and beyond, just not for athletes, but all the students.”

The coaching search led Keystone Oaks to hire former Burgettstown coach Matt Taylor. His first season with the team turned out to be a trying year as Keystone Oaks lost its first seven games.

The Golden Eagles were able to turn it around in the final two games, picking up a 28-21 victory over McGuffey and a 40-7 blowout over Burgettstown.

While the 2-7 record was disappointing, the Golden Eagles had several positives come out of the season. Sophomore Kobi Phillipi – who threw for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns – showed progress in his first year as a starter and sophmore running back Jimmy Canello and junior receiver Braydon Griffiths both gained a wealth of experience for 2013.

Hardwood glory

The Keystone Oaks boys basketball team had a banner year in 2011-12 as it won the Section 4-AAA title, the first Golden Eagles section title since 2003.

First-year coach Gene Mercuri installed his uptempo style and Keystone Oaks used it to finish with a 20-3 mark – including 12-0 in section action. The Golden Eagles were upset by Trinity, 72-62, in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

Rocco Constristano finished his career at Keystone Oaks with more than 1,000 points.

The girls squad, meanwhile, made its deepest playoff run in history.

First-year coach Nikki Presto – who was Mercuri's replacement after he resigned from the position – guided the Golden Eagles to a 7-5 mark in a tough Section 5-AA.

The Golden Eagles defeated Shady Side Academy, Deer Lakes and Greensburg Central Catholic during their run through the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

Keystone Oaks made it to the WPIAL semifinals before falling to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Seton-La Salle, 78-38. The Golden Eagles moved onto the PIAA Class AA tournament, defeating Moniteau 44-43 in the opening round.

The squad fell to Forest Hills, 68-57, in the second round.

Guard Alexa Xenakis finished her career with more than 1,000 points – a feat accomplished by only one other athlete in Keystone Oaks history.

Silver medal

Nick Zanetta had a strong junior campaign, going 41-4 and ending up as the runner -up of the PIAA Class AA tournament at 126 pounds.

Zanetta committed to Pitt this past summer to continue his wrestling career after his senior season.

Postseason run

The duo of senior Emily Valley and sophomore Maura Gray made a strong drive through the WPIAL Class AA doubles tennis tournament and ended up in the state tournament.

After tearing through the first two rounds, the pair fell to Chelsea Carter and Sara Kaminsky of South Park, 6-1, 6-2. Gray and Valley would drop to the consolation match where they defeated Juliana Lapek and Analise Zapadka in three sets – 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 – to qualify for the PIAA tournament,

The duo fell to Mercyhurst Prep's Katie Elia and Brittany McBridge, 6-2 , 6-0, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA tournament.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-583-6847 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.