Big moments shaped local sports landscape in 2012
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, December 26, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The year 2012 was a busy and memorable one for local sports fans and followers.
Big games, top performances from teams and players, and unforgettable news evoked a wide range of emotions and will live on in people's memories for years to come.
This week, the Times Express takes a look back at some of the big moments that shaped the past 12 months.
The Gateway varsity boys basketball team, playing in its third straight WPIAL Quad-A championship game, captured its second consecutive WPIAL title with a 49-39 victory over Pittsburgh Central Catholic at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center.
The Gators entered the tournament as the No. 11 season after a stumble late in the regular season, but they took care of business against Penn-Trafford, Seneca Valley and Butler en route to the title tilt.
Gateway, which finished tied with Plum for second in the Section 2-AAAA standings at 8-4, brought home the title with the help of seniors Tyler Scott, Barnett Harris, Luke Kochka, Nick Paolino and Tyler Wright.
Gateway moved on to the state playoffs, where it beat Seneca Valley for the second time before it fell to Shaler in the next round.
The Gators closed out the campaign 21-7 overall.
The five seniors returned to Gateway on Dec. 14 to celebrate the unveiling of the championship banner in the gym at the Furrie Sports Complex.
Umblemished in section
The Gateway varsity girls basketball team rolled through its Section 2-AAAA schedule and finished with a 12-0 record, just two seasons after going 0-12 in section play.
The Gators wrapped up the outright section crown with a dominant 61-39 victory at Plum on Feb. 7.
Gateway entered the WPIAL playoffs with a 19-3 overall record but suffered a heartbreaking 55-53 loss to Upper St. Clair in the first round.
The loss ended the standout varsity careers of seniors Destiny Brown, Anna Coutsoumbis and Amanda Estok.
Estok dressed for the playoff game but was unable to play because of a torn ACL suffered a couple of weeks earlier. It was her second ACL injury in seven months.
Gateway senior Destiny Brown, who earned 2011-12 preseason All-American recognition, was nominated for the 2012 McDonald's All-American girls basketball game, set for March 28 at Chicago's United Center. She was one of 14 Pennsylvania players — five male and nine female — considered for the games.
There were about 600 male and female players nominated from all 50 states.
In the end, she was not selected to play in the game, but it didn't diminish her strong season for the Gators, as her 24.1 points per game helped the Gators varsity girls basketball team win the Section 2-AAAA title with a 12-0 record and make the WPIAL playoffs.
Brown finished her Gateway career with 1,288 points and was the lone WPIAL player selected to the Associated Press Quad-A girls all-state first team.
Gateway senior Tyler Scott set a new varsity boys basketball school record for career points after scoring 18 against Franklin Regional in a late January Section 2-AAAA contest.
He eclipsed the previous record of 1,170 points scored by 2011 graduate Devon Cottrell.
Scott was happy with the new record and appreciated the round of applause from both Gateway and Franklin Regional fans during a stoppage in play after the new mark was set.
The Gateway varsity ice hockey team, which battled through injuries to key players all season, wrapped up a section title for the first time in more than a decade.
The Gators ended the regular season with a 9-11-1 record, and that included three wins in their final four games. The team hadn't won more than five games in a season since going 8-15-1 in the 2004-05 campaign.
Gateway suffered a loss to Moon in the first round of the PIHL Class AA playoffs.
A full podium
Members of the Gateway varsity boys swimming team made seven trips to the medals podium during the two-day WPIAL AAA championship meet at Pitt's Trees Pool.
Drew Nosbisch qualified for states and earned medals in two events, as he tied for second in the 100 breast with Penn Hills' Gabriel Larson and placed eighth in the 200 free.
Alex Caprara medaled in the 100 breast and 200 IM and punched his ticket to states in both events. He finished fourth in the 100 breast and sixth in the 200 IM.
Not to be outdone, Jake Beley qualified for states and earned a medal in the 100 fly with a fourth-place finish.
Nosbisch, Caprara and Beley also joined anchor Ray Doerfler on the 200 free relay team that placed seventh and earned a WPIAL medal.
The 400 free relay of Nosbisch, Caprara, Beley and anchor Kenny Stevens placed seventh and took home a medal.
Both relays come up just short on a trip to states.
Rolling to states
The Gateway varsity girls bowling team was denied a trip to states in 2011, but the group of Tori Smith, Angela Chusko, Morgan Sayre, Ashley Giles, Kate Fennell, Ashley Smith and Sara Mascaro made it count in March with a state-qualifying third-place finish at the Western Regional Championships at North Versailles Bowl.
The Gators wrapped up their successful season at states by placing fifth out of 12 teams. They just missed qualifying for the four-team stepladder finals.
Tori Smith got the state-championship weekend off to a roaring start with a fifth-place finish in the girls' singles tournament, as a 185.3 average over six qualifying games propelled her to the stepladder finals playoffs.
Gateway went 10-0 in the regular season to wrap up the Northeast section title, and the team also went on to place fourth at the WPIBL championships.
Swimming great Mel Nash was the latest Gateway great to earn induction into the WPIAL Hall of Fame.
He was honored with the rest of the Class of 2012 at a ceremony June 1 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree.
Nash set several records while winning WPIAL and state championships while at Gateway.
He earned WPIAL Swimmer of the Year honors three years in a row from his sophomore to senior years, and he was the first sophomore and junior to receive the award in its 35-year history.
When he graduated, Nash held Gateway records in eight of 10 events, and he still is the school record holder in the 100 free and 100 backstroke.
Gateway seniors Anna Coutsoumbis, Tyler Scott and Barnett Harris took part in the prestigious Roundball Classic at Geneva College.
Coutsoumbis played on the girls Quad-A team, and the all-star squad came up short against the AAA stars, 83-74. However, she finished second out of six shooters in the Quad-A/AAA 3-point shooting contest at halftime.
Coutsoumbis also earned MVP honors with 14 points and six rebounds for the Quad-A/Class A team at the annual Hoops For A Cure all-star girls basketball game at Chartiers Valley two weeks earlier.
In the Quad-A vs. AAA boys Roundball game, Harris and Scott helped the Quad-A squad to an 87-83 win. Harris finished with nine points and a game-best 16 rebounds.
After a one-year hiatus, the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association's East-West Football All-Star Game returned and was played at Gateway High School's Antimarino Stadium on May 6.
Gateway seniors Haakim Oliver, Anthony Rollins, Brian Jones, Avery Anderson and Patrick Livsey helped the West squad come out on the winning side of a 45-24 victory over the East.
Gators senior lineman Ryan Doyle also was selected for the West team, but he was unable to play because of an injury.
The Gateway varsity baseball team started 2-4 in Section 4-AAAA play, but the Gators rebounded to go 5-1 down the stretch to qualify for the playoffs.
The stretch run included a dramatic 2-1 victory over Plum in 12 innings at the Gateway Sports Complex.
The win took four hours to achieve and included a couple of weather delays, but it ended with Dante Dimatteo's walk-off single.
The Gators clinched the playoff spot with a 9-0 win over Kiski Area two days later.
Gateway finished tied with Franklin Regional for third place in the section standings at 7-5, and because the Gators and Panthers split their season series, both teams entered the playoffs.
Gateway concluded its season with a tough 2-1 loss to North Allegheny in the first round of WPIALs. The Gators, in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, finished with an overall record of 9-10.
Barlow takes gold
Gateway senior Aaron Barlow captured the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at the WPIAL AAA championships at Baldwin High School.
He ran the 100 in 10.88 seconds and edged North Allegheny junior Kyle Shivetts at the line to claim the 200 title.
Barlow was the first Gateway sprinter to win both events at the same meet in more than 30 years.
His time of 21.74 in the 200 also set a school record, and he went on to earn a sixth-place medal in the 200 at states.
Barlow tied the school record in the 100 dash (10.6) at the WPIAL team semifinals earlier in the month.
The Gators boys 4x100 relay of Barlow, Jae'Len Means, Cameron Gray and Jaylen Jordan placed second to Kiski Area at WPIALs and qualified for states.
The relay of Means, Gray, Barlow and Julius Rivera set the school record of 42.61 at the Baldwin Invitational two weeks earlier.
Also at WPIALs, Paige McIntosh (shot put), Anthony Bauccio (shot put) and Samantha Taylor (javelin) all had performances that qualified them for states.
Taylor took fourth with a throw of 135 feet, 8 inches.
Her school-record toss of 143-2 during the season was the top throw in the WPIAL leading up to the WPIAL finals.
Nosbish at Trials
Gateway graduate Luke Nosbisch, a swimmer on the University of Pittsburgh men's swim team, joined other competitors from all over the country at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb.
More than 13,000 fans packed the CenturyLink Center for the event, which was highlighted by swims from Olympic standouts such as Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.
Nosbisch swam the 100 breaststroke on the first day of competition and finished 134th (1:06.40).
After a two-day wait, Nosbisch returned to the pool for the 200 breast, and he took 115th (2:24.12).
Coach Al Rose said certain events at the U.S. swim trials were more competitive than the event at the Olympics.
Nosbisch is eligible to return to the trials in 2016, and the qualifying period begins in the fall.
Summer track fun
Gateway's Jae'Len Means, a member of the Pittsburgh-based Future Stars Athletics track and field club, anchored a record-setting 400-meter relay in the intermediate boys division (ages 15-16) at the USA Track and Field Region 2 Junior Olympics championship meet at the University of Delaware.
Means and Gateway teammate Cameron Gray helped the team finish with a time of 43.58, a Region 2 record. The first-place run clinched a spot at nationals for the team.
The relay went on to place third at nationals.
Means also won the 100 and 200 dashes at regionals, and Gray was third in the 100 dash.
Gateway student-athlete Julius Rivera anchored the Future Stars 400 relay in the young men's division (ages 17-18), and he and Gators teammate Jaylen Jordan helped the team qualify for nationals with a first-place finish.
Aiyanna Crawford, a rising freshman at Gateway, took second in the youth girls (ages 13-14) 800 run and the 1,600 relay and third in the 400 dash to qualify for nationals in all three events.
She went on to take fourth in the 800 at nationals.
The top three finishers in each event qualified for nationals.
Freshman golfer Johnna Beehner made a big impact in her first year on the Gateway varsity team.
She was the first Gateway female golfer since 2006 to qualify for the WPIAL individual champ- ionship tournament.
Beehner was third at the Section 3 qualifier, and she followed that up with a fifth-place at WPIALs to punch her ticket to the PIAA Western Regional tournament.
The fun continued at regionals, as she was one of six golfers in an 11-player Class AAA field to qualify for states. She tied for fifth with a 14-over 86 at Tom's Run Golf Course at Chestnut Ridge in Blairsville.
At states, Beehner's fall run ended with a 14th-place finish. She was one of four freshman in the 18-golfer AAA field.
She also helped the Gators team snap an 18-match losing streak in section play dating back to 2010 with a 222-227 victory over Fox Chapel at Murrysville Golf Club.
Gateway graduates Melanie Morgan-Miller and Joanne Boyle were two of seven local athletic greats inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, East Boros Chapter, at a banquet in October.
Morgan-Miller was a Gators swimming standout.
She won seven individual WPIAL championships, six individual state titles and set numerous high school records before moving on to a standout collegiate career at Florida.
Boyle, a four-sport star at Gateway, excelled in basketball as a player at Duke and has built a top coaching resume with successful Division I tenures at Richmond and Cal.
She now is the head women's basketball coach at the University of Virginia.
The Gateway football team began its 2012 season amid speculation about the the coaching future of head coach Terry Smith.
The Gateway School Board voted in a policy over the summer that says no school district administrator also can hold a head coaching position, but, Smith said, the focus throughout the fall is on getting his team ready to play each week.
The Gators finished the regular season 8-1, with their only loss coming to WPIAL and state champion North Allegheny on Oct. 5.
Gateway also went 8-0 in Quad East play to reclaim the conference title after finishing second two years in a row.
The Gators made quick work of Peters Township in the first round of WPIALs but were stymied in the quarterfinals with a 17-14 loss to Woodland Hills at Norwin High School.
Nineteen Gateway players were selected to the Quad East all-star teams.
A strong and talented varsity girls soccer team is nothing new at Gateway, but the 2012 Gators squad did something no other team had done in the program's history.
For the first time since the first team took the field in 1987, a Gateway squad made it to the semifinals of the WPIAL playoffs.
The Gators started by finishing 11-0-1 in Section 3-AAA for another section title. The run to the crown included a season sweep of rival Fox Chapel. The only blemish was a 2-2 tie against Plum.
Gateway beat North Allegheny, 3-0, in the first round and outlasted Canon-McMillan, 2-1, in a quarterfinal shootout.
Eventual WPIAL and state champion Peters Township stopped Gateway in the semifinals, 3-0, and Bethel Park denied the Gators a trip to states, 3-0, in the third-place game.
Gateway ended its season 16-5-1 overall, and Carly Seneca, Maggie Hilton, Emily Stevens, Hanna Crable and Allie Warsaw earned all-section honors.
Seneca also was named All-WPIAL for the fourth year and all-state for the third season in a row.
B.J. Stevens, a Gateway graduate and junior on the California University of Pennsylvania football team, capped off a monster fall season for the Vulcans with a selection to the Daktronics First-Team All-American and AP Little All-America football teams.
The Little All-America team is made up of players from NCAA Division II, III and the NAIA, while the Daktronics team is for players in Division II.
In his first year as a starter, Stevens led the PSAC and broke the single-season school records with 22.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.
He ranked fourth on the team with 60 tackles (25 solo) and also totaled two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Stevens finished the year as the NCAA Division II leader in sacks per game.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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