Guido: Valley's only title came 20 years ago
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Valley has had some great basketball teams — but only one has won a WPIAL title.
That came 20 years ago when the Vikings defeated Seton-La Salle, 52-45, on March 12, 1993, to earn the Class AAA crown at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.
Valley was also the PIAA runner-up that season, losing the state title game to Pottstown, 85-66, to finish the season with a 30-3 record.
Expectations were high for the Vikings entering the 1992-93 season. Valley had won Section 1-AAA titles the two previous seasons and made it two games into the PIAA tournament.
“It was an unbelievable year,” coach Tom Myers said. “I thought we would do well — we had some kids who started two or three years — but you know how hard it is to win a WPIAL title.”
“We had four seniors and a couple of juniors,” said Tom Pipkins, who became the WPIAL's all-time leading scorer during the season. “We played together for a long time, and we knew this was going to be our last hurrah. We thought we could have gone further the previous couple of years, but we ran into some bad luck. That year, we finally turned the corner.”
The start of the 1992-93 season was delayed one day. Heavy snow postponed the tip-off tournament until Saturday, when all four games were played.
Pipkins hit the 2,000 mark in career scoring during the season-opening tournament.
Valley was undefeated in section play, and it defeated the eventual Class AAAA champ, New Castle, by 30 points and the Class A champ, Duquesne, by 47.
“The kids worked very hard and knew their roles,” Myers said. “Tommy scored 878 points that season, but there was no envy or jealousy.”
The other starters were forward Bill Coury, defensive specialist Monte Banks, shooting guard Mitch Funkhouser and Nate Cope, at 6-foot-3 the tallest player on the team. Myers was assisted by coaches Tom Gustafson and Fred Jackson.
Excitement built as Pipkins approached the career points mark, set in the 1950s by Wampum High School's Don Hennon. Pipkins had a chance to reach the mark in a nonsection game at Penn Hills but was injured. He set the mark at home in a nonsection game against South Park in front of a sellout crowd.
“I knew I was pretty close at Penn Hills,” Pipkins said. “But my leg cramped up, and I didn't go back in. The irony of it all is that I got it in front of the home crowd.”
Valley opened the WPIAL playoffs with convincing wins over Derry (90-45) and Jeannette (71-48).
In the WPIAL semifinals, Valley hoped for a rematch against Blackhawk, a team that it lost to in that school's Christmas tournament.
But that never happened. Valley beat Beaver Falls in the semifinals and Blackhawk was upset by Seton-La Salle.
The most memorable play of the title game came when Seton's Eric Binkowski was driving downcourt for an apparent layup. Pipkins came out of nowhere, leaped over a stunned Binkowski and slapped the ball against the banking board.
“We needed a big play to change the momentum,” Pipkins said. “I grabbed the ball off the board, went the other way and hit a little jumper.”
In the PIAA tournament, Valley knocked off Penn Cambria, St. Marys, Perry and Hickory to reach the title game.
A tired Vikings team fell behind against Pottstown at Hersheypark Arena and never got untracked.
George Guido is a freelance writer.His scholastic column appears Wednesdays.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Steelers’ Harrison eyes stretch run
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Michigan State takes bumpy road to finale against Penn State
- House fire displaces family of 6 in Somerset County
- HS highlight reel: Pair of title games to be on tape delay Saturday
- Gorman: Thomas Jefferson quarterback Kelley savors run after injuries, illness
- Palestinian artist who appealed blasphemy sentence of 800 lashes, prison sentenced to execution
- Knoch girls seek dividends of experience