Private schools won five of the eight PIAA basketball championship games Friday and Saturday, with the South Fayette boys and Mt. Lebanon girls among the elite group of public schools bringing home trophies.The Class AAAA boys title game was contested by two public schools, Penn-Wood and Plymouth-Whitemarsh, the champion and runnerup of District 1.
Bishop Guilfoyle, the only undefeated team in the state (30-0), won in Class A girls, extending that streak of private-school victories to six. The most recent time a public school won a state title in Class A girls was in 2004 (Monessen). Serra Catholic is the most recent WPIAL team to win a title (2005).
In Class AA girls, Karns City (2000) is the most recent public school to win a title after Archbishop Wood beat Indiana on Saturday, 49-39. The last WPIAL team to win a title was Vincentian Academy in 2002. And since Greensburg Central Catholic won in 1997, private schools have won 12 of 14 in that classification.
In Class AAA girls, other than Hopewell’s back-to-back titles in 2006-07, private schools have won eight of the past 10.
After Sewickley Academy won Friday, Class A boys private schools have won 14 in a row, started by Sewickley Academy and coach Victor Giannotta in 1997. Giannotta is now the coach at Seneca Valley.
Since the PIAA went to four classifications in 1984, only two WPIAL Class AAAA boys teams – Ringgold (1995) and Penn Hills (2004) – have won state titles. Schenley of the City League won in 2007.
Erie Cathedral Prep (District 10, in 1993) and State College (District 6, in 2003) also brought AAAA titles back to the west.
The WPIAL girls have performed a lot better since 1984. Mt. Lebanon became the 10th AAAA team to win a state crown. It was Mt. Lebanon’s second in a row.
Oakland Catholic and Altoona (District 6) have won four each and Mercyhurst Prep one.
The WPIAL tripled its state titles this year; last year, it was only Mt. Lebanon. This year, coach Dori Oldaker’s incredible group was joined by the South Fayette and Sewickley Academy boys.
Who knew on Jan. 31 — when Sewickley Academy beat South Fayette, 56-47, at the half-empty Sewall Center at Robert Morris College — that we were watching two future state champions?
Probably the most amazing stat of the weekend is this: Oldaker, who has been a varsity basketball coach for only 11 seasons, winning her fourth state title (two at Blackhawk).
Second-most amazing stat: The appropriately named Win Palmer getting his 500th victory, including his fifth state title (four in Virginia).