Trib Cup: North Allegheny, Blackhawk, Seton-La Salle, Vincentian lead winter standings
The temperature may not indicate that the winter is over, but the second portion of the WPIAL high school calendar has changed with four of the top districts climbing the ranks of the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports award standings.
North Allegheny (Class AAAA), Blackhawk (Class AAA), Seton-La Salle (Class AA) and Vincentian (Class A) saw championships raised with dominant performances and deep playoff runs from its respective sports and were the top performing schools in the winter.
The North Allegheny Tigers are in familiar territory this season. The Tigers finished the fall session atop the Trib Cup standings and the success continued into the early part of 2014. Their boys and girls swimming teams captured WPIAL gold this year, the basketball teams were playoff qualifiers and the wrestling team qualified for the state tournament.
“Success breeds success,” athletic director Bob Bozzuto said. “One of the things that goes with all of our programs is that when you see the success with our programs, it makes other student-athletes in other sports work that much harder.”
Bozzuto pointed out that at North Allegheny, no individual is bigger than the goal of the district as a whole. He compared the working parts of the district to that of a puzzle with each individual piece contributing for the greater good of the entire picture.
As North Allegheny's sports programs get set to move outside, Bozzuto said the recent accolades of the previous seasons will be motivation for students preparing for spring activities.
“Our success starts with our outstanding student-athletes and coaching staff,” he said. “We are very competitive and attempt to do everything the very best. It's nice to know we're still on top.
“It'll make us work that much harder to stay on top.”
The Blackhawk girls basketball team sent several seniors off in grand form after winning WPIAL and PIAA championships. The boys team finished with a .500 record and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals.
“We're extremely proud of all of our student-athletes for the hard work they've shown all year,” assistant athletic director Rick Ford said. “At Blackhawk, we take great pride in our sports teams and that's seen when you wear a Blackhawk T-shirt around and get noticed.”
Ford said the accomplishments on the field or court start at home and from previous year's student-athletes who trained to build a legacy to follow and honor.
“We have exceptional coaches and student-athletes and with our school, a lot of times in sports, it's total involvement,” Ford said. “The parents play an integral role as well as the traditions of our school.
“Blackhawk's tradition has been paved and the kids want to keep that alive.”
Blackhawk is fourth in the overall Trib Cup standings.
Seton-La Salle athletic director John Ashaolu goes to work every day proud to represent a school with such a rich history of athletic prowess. A former Carlow University coach, director of basketball operations at East Carolina University and assistant director of basketball operations at Duquesne, Ashaolu said he couldn't be more ecstatic each morning to go to work.
“I'm unbelievably proud. As a former basketball player, basketball coach and basketball junkie, I couldn't be at a better place than Seton-La Salle,” Ashaolu said. “I've seen some great teams so far make deep runs in both the WPIALs and the state.
“This is great being able to be around really good kids.”
The Rebels' girls basketball team brought home WPIAL and PIAA gold, while the boys matched the WPIAL championship and fell just short in the PIAA championship game. Ashaolu attributed the program's success to the dedication of the players, support of parents and sacrifice of its coaching staff.
He went a step further to point out that dawning a Seton-La Salle uniform on the athletic front takes on a powerful meaning.
“I think there is a legacy of athletic history at Seton-La Salle,” he said. “When you're a student-athlete, you're expected to put in that work and represent that legacy.
“When you look through the history and what the school has produced it points that this is a really good school with a great athletic program.”
Greensburg Central Catholic leads Seton-La Salle in the overall standings by just one point entering the spring season.
In his second year as the athletic director at Vincentian, Steve Boyd has seen several outstanding team performances, but said he gets satisfaction from watching the hard work and effort that's put forth behind the scenes.
“If you're going to be good at anything, you have to be dedicated to do what you need to accomplish your goals,” he said. “This isn't with just basketball, it's with all sports.
“Whether you win the championship or have a kid go to Yale, it's the same kind of satisfaction.”
The girls basketball team won both WPIAL and PIAA gold, while the boys qualified for each postseason tournament. Boyd said he wants to be a consistent leader in the Trib Total Media/WPIX High School Sports award standings in the years to come thanks to the contributions of its other growing sports.
“The basketball programs have been strong the last hand full of years,” he said. “We're working to get the other programs to catch up with them.
“We're looking for good things in the years to come.”
Vincentian Academy is second behind Sewickley Academy in the overall Trib Cup standings.
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.