The 15 stories that defined the 2013-14 high school sports year
Blackhawk pitcher Brendan McKay gains national attention with a surreal scoreless streak. McKay goes 721/3 consecutive innings without giving up a run, dating to last season. The streak ties for the second-longest in U.S. high school baseball history and gains him comparisons to some of the greatest athletes in WPIAL history. The streak ends in a loss to West Allegheny in the WPIAL Class AAA championship.
It was a perfect storm of Red Hurricanes. The New Castle boys basketball team goes through the season undefeated (31-0) and becomes the first boys team from the WPIAL in 31 years to have an undefeated season. The 1983 Sto-Rox Vikings were the previous team to do it.
THE BEARS' STREAK ENDS
On Sept. 20, 2013, the Clairton Bears football team had to deal with something they hadn't experienced in four years. A loss. Monessen beats Clairton, 42-24, to break the Bears' record-breaking 66-game winning streak. The streak was a state record and the 10th-longest in U.S. high school football history.
SEVEN UP FOR PALKO
West Allegheny defeats Central Valley at Heinz Field to win the WPIAL Class AAA football title and coach Bob Palko becomes the first in WPIAL history to win seven championships outright. New Castle's Phil Bridenbaugh also won seven from 1924-49, but one was a co-championship.
THE CROWN FITS
Norwin's J.J. Matijevic becomes the first known baseball player to win the WPIAL triple crown (regular-season leader in batting average, home runs and RBIs). He hit .607, had 10 home runs and 37 RBIs in 17 games.
GRAPPLING WITH SUCCESS
Kittanning's Jason Nolf capped off a memorable career by winning his third PIAA championship and becoming only the 23rd wrestler to win four WPIAL titles. Nolf finished with a 176-1 record.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Shaler's Brianna Schwartz establishes herself as the best distance runner in WPIAL history. In the track season, Schwartz runs the best times in WPIAL history in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races and she also won a WPIAL cross-country title in the fall.
MADDIE'S GOLD RUSH
It was a Memorial Day Weekend to remember for Hempfield junior Maddie Holmberg at the PIAA track and field championships. She wins the Class AAA long jump with the best leap in WPIAL history, the 300-meter hurdles with the best time in WPIAL history and runs a leg on the 400 relay team that recorded the best time in WPIAL history.
T.D. EXPRESS AT ALIQUIPPA
Aliquippa running backs Terry Swanson and Dravon Henry are a backfield for the ages. They become the first WPIAL runners in the same class to each rush for 4,000 career yards.
MEMORABLE ONE-TWO PUNCH
Greensburg Central Catholic senior soccer players Frannie Crouse and Malea Fabean found the back of the net like no other tandem in WPIAL history. Crouse finishes her career with a state-record 208 career goals while Fabean has 152. Fabean also sets a state record with 117 career assists.
WPIAL 'STATES' ITS CASE
Hershey was sweet for WPIAL basketball. Five WPIAL teams win PIAA championships in Hershey, the most for the league since the PIAA started having boys and girls championships in 1973. The boys winners are New Castle and Lincoln Park while the girls winners are Blackhawk, Seton-LaSalle and Vincentian.
LEAVING THE BEARS' DEN
Coach Tom Nola goes from the black and orange of Clairton to the black and gold of Gateway. Nola coached Clairton's football team to six WPIAL titles, four PIAA championships and a 66-game winning streak, but he leaves to become Gateway's coach.
HEART OF THE LIONS
Quarterback Brett Brumbaugh has a record-breaking season and leads the South Fayette Lions to a memorable year. The Lions go 16-0, win WPIAL and PIAA titles and Brumbaugh throws for a WPIAL single-season-record 3,897 yards.
WHO'S SELLING ANY?
The New Castle and Hampton boys basketball teams meet four times this season and demand for tickets is high. One of the meetings is in the WPIAL AAAA championship and it's hard to remember a recent game that attracted so much attention and buildup. The game is sold out and people start lining up outside Palumbo Center hours before tipoff in hopes of getting 250 tickets that were being sold.
The PIAA baseball and softball championships are played at Penn State, but the WPIAL is a no-show. For the first time since 1979, no WPIAL baseball or softball team makes it to the title games.
-- Post-Gazette staff