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Carlynton athletics continued to improve during the 2013 seasons

Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item - After suffering their first section loss, Kylie Waugh and the Carlynton volleyball team rebounded with a 3-0 win over Burgettstown,
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item</em></div>After suffering their first section loss, Kylie Waugh and the Carlynton volleyball team rebounded with a 3-0 win over Burgettstown,
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item - Senior defender Courtney Zofcin (right) and the Carlynton girls soccer team clinched a playoff berth for the firs time since 2007 last week.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item</em></div>Senior defender Courtney Zofcin (right) and the Carlynton girls soccer team clinched a playoff berth for the firs time since 2007 last week.

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Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Carlynton athletic programs had a noticeable increase in competitiveness in 2013.

Several squads and athletes made their way into postseason play for the first time in a number of seasons – or ever.

The following are the five biggest stories coming out of Cougar athletics in 2013.

1. Playoff berths

The Carlynton girls basketball team brought its seven-year playoff drought to an end in 2013.

The Cougars – who entered the season being led by their fourth head coach in as many seasons – pulled together and finished with a 13-11 overall mark and a 7-5 record in Section 6-AA play.

The team would get its first playoff win since the 2004-05 season as it defeated Charleroi, 33-31, before falling to Burrell, 47-23.

“Our motto this season was ‘return to glory,' ” coach Tim Bonner said. “During breaks in games, we always finished with ‘1-2-3-glory.' We want to get it back to the way it was in the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s.”

The girls basketball team continued the success into the 2013-14 as it started the season with a six-game win streak.

Also, the girls soccer team made huge strides in the fall and qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs for only the second time in the past decade.

The team finished with an 8-7-2 mark and finished in fourth place in Section 3-A play.

“I knew what we had coming back and what we had coming up from the junior high team,” second-year coach David Zinski said. “I thought we could be good.

“My goal was to finish third in the conference but I will take making it to the playoffs.”

It was only the second winning season in the past 10 years and the team' eight wins equaled the combined wins of the previous five seasons combined.

The team fell to Neshannock, 1-0, in the opening round of the playoffs.

2. History maker

The girls volleyball team was led a senior group of six players — Deaira Bassett, Emily Burch, McKenna Gamble, Kelly Jones, Hannah Murray and Kylie Waugh – as it clinched its first playoff berth in school history in 2013.

“I wouldn't say it is unbelievable, but I do think it is hard for some of us to wrap our minds around what we have done,” coach Emily Tupi said. “It is incredible. It is what I have wanted since I started at Carlynton. It is really amazing how hard the girls have worked to get here.”

The Cougars defeated Frazier, 3-1, in the first round before falling to eventual WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-0, in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

3. State qualifier

For the second straight season, Aymed Thornton made the trip to Shippensburg for the PIAA Class AA track and field championships.

Thornton finished in fourth place in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.93 at the WPIAL finals.

The sophomore was the first Carlynton athlete to reach the state championships in back to back seasons. Thornton was unable to break out of the preliminary heat at the PIAA championships after running a time of 52.21.

4. Section champ

Freddie McKissick had a successful junior campaign on the mat as he won the Section 1-A 182-pound title.

In the opening round he scored a pin over Beaver's Grant Cable before defeating South Fayette's Brad Haney, 7-5 and scoring a fall on Zach Simonelli of Avella for the title.

McKissick finished in fourth at the WPIAL tournament before being eliminated at the Southwest Region tournament.

McKissick started his senior season with a 4-0 record.

5. Section champ

Hannah Phillips won the Section 5-AA singles tennis tournament by defeating South Parks Ashley Snodgrass, 6-2, 6-3.

Phillips would move onto the WPIAL Class AA tournament and defeat Beaver's Mattie Taylor before falling to Greensburg Central Catholic's Alyvia Kluska, 10-4.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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