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High School Sports

Monessen Greyhounds still magical on the court

| Sunday, March 25, 2012

Past or present players or coaches of amateur sports can agree that the competition experience means far more than a final score.

The lifelong relationships and memories that come from being part of an unfolding season while spending hours with teammates is a unique experience shared by few.

Still, scores count for something, and the remarkable consistency of both Monessen High School's basketball teams is in the books again.

Under the direction of 28th-year head coach Joe Salvino, the Greyhounds boys' basketball team achieved an unprecedented 31st consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance.

This year's team also recorded the program's 13th season of 20 or more victories under Salvino. His career record improved to 531-206 after a 25-4 overall record this past season. Competing at the Class AA level despite being a small Class A school, the Greyhounds reached the WPIAL finals and quarterfinals of the state tournament. Monessen won the WPIAL Class AA title in 2011.

The veteran coach has led the Greyhounds to win four WPIAL titles overall with the others (Class A) coming in 1995, 2001 and 2002. Monessen won consecutive PIAA Class A state titles in 1988 and 1989. The Greyhounds won WPIAL Class AAA titles in 1919, 1923 and are the only basketball team to win WPIAL championships in three different classifications. Salvino has guided Monessen to 11 WPIAL semifinals appearances with eight championship game appearances.

Lady Greyhounds

Monessen High School's girls' basketball team made the program's 23rd consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance this past season and won its fifth consecutive section title overall.

Third-year head coach and newly named athletic director Gina Naccarato guided the Lady Greyhounds to a 20-4 overall record and second consecutive undefeated season.

Monessen missed advancing to the WPIAL Class A semifinals for the third consecutive season after a controversial loss to Riverview High School in the quarterfinals. The setback also denied Monessen a 12th PIAA state tournament appearance in 15 years.

Under Naccarato, the Lady Greyhounds have won 35 of 36 Section 4-A games, and her career coaching record is 63-12.

A 2007 Mid-Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Naccarato was an assistant coach for nine years under 23-year veteran Major Corley. After scoring a WPIAL record 3,364 career points and helping Monessen win the 1995 WPIAL Class A title her junior season, Naccarato was a solid guard for Duquesne University.

Chukwuedo concludes season

A star player on Monessen High School's last of nine girls' basketball teams to reach the WPIAL championship game (2008) is Christina Chukwuedo, who concluded her solid collegiate career at Bucknell.

The 5-foot-7-inch senior guard played in all 30 games with 29 starts this season and appeared in every one of Bucknell's 114 games since her freshman year.

Durable, she was second on the team in minutes per game at 30.7 and averaged five points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

A two-time Patriot League Academic Honor Roll student, she helped Bucknell's women's basketball team rank second nationally in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association academic top 25 team honor roll.

In 2007-2008 she helped Monessen produce an undefeated regular season, reach the WPIAL Class A championship game and second round of the PIAA state playoffs.

A two-time Associated Press All-State selection in high school, she finished her scholastic career with 1,175 points.

The Bison finished the 2011-12 season with a 5-25 overall record and lost to Lehigh in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League Tournament.

A co-captain and the team's only senior, Chukwuedo ranked fourth among all Patriot League players in assists per game with a 3.3 average.

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