Sibling sensation: Scoring runs in Fort Cherry family

Bellhy brothers, sisters



Tom and Jan Bellhy used to have some animals on their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County. But through the years, they never grew anything in the way of crops.

That is, of course, unless you count all those points that came from the Bellhys' offspring. Over the years, those points have sprouted up literally by the thousands.

In WPIAL basketball, there has likely never been such a bumper crop of 1,000-point scorers from one family like the Bellhys of Fort Cherry High School.

Eight days ago, Rachel Bellhy (pronounced BELL-high) scored her 1,000th point to earn a spot on Fort Cherry's wall of fame. The school has two banners hanging in its gym -- one for boys and another for girls -- listing every 1,000-point scorer at the school.

The banners will now include the names of four Bellhy. A trophy case at the school also has a ball for every 1,000-point scorer. Four of those balls will belong to the Bellhys.

Rachel became the fourth of Tom and Jan Bellhys' children to reach the milestone. The others were Zach, Nate and Bekka. In terms of 1,000-point scorers, the Bellhys could be called the first family of WPIAL basketball, believed to be possibly the first to have four siblings score 1,000.

There have been two siblings in the WPIAL score 1,000 points, and even a few families where three scored 1,000, like Sean, Archie and Lisa Miller of Blackhawk. The Costa sisters -- Christina, Kelly and Catherine-- of Avonworth were believed to be the first siblings of the same sex to score 1,000 each.

But four from one family for 1,000? It's certainly a Bellhy high.

"It's not that I've thought about it a lot, but I think maybe I realize what we've done," said 22-year-old Zach, the oldest of the Bellhy children. "I mean, four in one family is pretty unusual."

Zach had 1,218 points. Nate, 21, is the family leader with 1,518. Bekka, 19, had 1,296 and Rachel, an 18-year-old Fort Cherry senior, has 1,044 and still has the WPIAL playoffs to add to her total.

The playoffs begin tonight for both boys and girls teams and Fort Cherry plays Avonworth at Chartiers Valley.

There is a fifth and final Bellhy child. Tina is a 16-year-old junior who starts for the Rangers, but she doesn't score much and is nowhere near 1,000 points. Her preferred sport is volleyball.

"She's our defensive specialist," Rachel said. "She debated whether to play basketball the last two years, but since I was still in school, she wanted to play with me. It's nice to have your sister out there with you."

There are 5,076 points just between Zach, Nate, Bekka and Rachel. To think, all those points at a small school that doesn't have a particularly rich basketball tradition.

Fort Cherry, which is located in northern Washington County and includes students from the towns of McDonald, Midway and the surrounding area, is known more for football or even wrestling. The only WPIAL title in basketball -- boys or girls -- was won by the Fort Cherry boys back in 1961.

"I don't care what you say or who it's against, to have four score 1,000 is a feat," said Gary Kacsur, in his second year as Fort Cherry's girls coach. "The thing with Rachel is that from ninth through 12th grade, she has missed about 20 games because of injuries. That's almost a whole season and she still got 1,000."

For their part, Tom and Jan Bellhy didn't exactly foresee this happening.

"Honestly, our family didn't sit around one day tallying things up and think this was the way it's going to be," Jan Bellhy said. "It sort of just happened."

Tom and Jan Bellhy had virtually no basketball in their backgrounds. Tom was a football player at Washington High School and made the Pitt football team as a walk-on in the early 1970s.

At Center High School in Beaver County, Jan Ujevich (her maiden name) was one of the best swimmers in WPIAL history. She is one of the few swimmers to win six PIAA gold medals and also set PIAA records. At one time, she set a national high school record in the 200-yard individual medley and went on to swim at the University of Florida and twice at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Jan has a law degree but now works in real estate. Tom is retired from the financial business and now is pastor of New Hope Church in Washington. When the Bellhys married and moved to Washington County and started having children years ago, basketball wasn't on their minds.

"Fort Cherry is a smaller school, so they didn't have many youth programs," Jan Belly said. "Tom and I got them involved in starting to play some basketball. There was some basketball on my side of the family because I had three uncles [Mickey, Wally and Steve Zernich] who played basketball at Pitt.

"I think our boys could've been very good baseball players, but the pace of it was too slow for them. I tried to encourage them into a pool, but without a swimming pool at the school, it was kind of hard. Plus, the boys didn't want to put on a Speedo."

Zach started playing basketball in third grade.

"It was just something I decided to do and I ended up enjoying it," Zach said. "I think I sparked Nate's interest in it and maybe the others. I'm not taking credit for getting us all started, but I'd like to think that maybe I had something to do with it."

Rachel added: "When Zach started playing, I remember we'd all go to the games and everyone sort of just followed suit."

Although the Bellhys scored a lot, they were different types of players. Zach (6 feet 3) and Nate (6-6) played more at the guard position while Beka (5-9) played inside and outside. Rachel (5-9) and Tina (5-10) are forwards.

"Nate and I probably had a little different roles than the girls, because we had to do a lot of ballhandling and making plays that way," Zach Bellhy said.

Zach went on to play at Washington & Jefferson College and scored 1,504 points. Nate is a junior at W&J who leads the Presidents in scoring at 18.1 points a game this season. Beka is a sophomore at W&J who averages 14 points a game.

Rachel hasn't decided on a college yet, but W&J is a possibility.

No matter where Rachel goes and Tina next year, the Bellhys have left an everlasting mark on Fort Cherry -- and the WPIAL. All five of them are excellent students with high grade-point averages.

"There are a lot of good people at Fort Cherry who have been so supportive," Jan Bellhy said. "Of course, without teammates you don't score 1,000 points. We have just enjoyed the run at Fort Cherry so much."


For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh

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