Another day, another Mercer County cage coaching casualty.
On Thursday, Tom Burns was notified his position as Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball coach was being opened to new applicants.
“I don’t want to say a whole lot,” Burns began. “You walk in(to a meeting), and thirty seconds later, you’re out.
“ ... ‘Off-court drama,’ that’s the reasoning,” related Burns via a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation.
“We decided to open the position. We decided to move in a different direction and open the position,” said Kennedy Catholic athletic director Jim Piccirilli.
Burns recently concluded his 6th campaign at Kennedy with a 24-3 ledger. He guided the Lady Golden Eagles to their 4th District 10 Class A title during his tenure, and this year completed a 3-peat. KC copped PIAA playoff wins over North Catholic and Port Allegany before being ousted by eventual state runner-up Vincentian Academy in the state quarterfinals.
After a season-opening setback at D-10 Class AAA titlist Franklin, Kennedy captured 15 consecutive conquests, lost to Vincentian in the postponed finale of Penn State-Beaver’s holiday tourney, then reeled off 9 more victories before being vanquished by Vincentian (68-51) for the 2nd straight season.
“I can’t understand it,” admitted Burns. “Last year there was a parent issue — a fabricated parent’s issue that, obviously, people couldn’t let go. I’d heard rumors all year long that this was going to be my last year, but didn’t put a lot of weight into them.
“It’s always been about the kids, to me,” Burns continued. “Whether or not I’m coaching them, it doesn’t matter; what matters to me is that the kids are okay.”
Burns’ daughter, Rachel, was one of this season’s seniors and she surpassed the career 1,000-point plateau, as did Akron University-bound Alex Ricketts. Earlier this week Ricketts was selected 1st Team All-State by Pennsylvania sports writers.
“I think it’s a well-deserved award for her,” Burns said regarding Ricketts. “She’s worked hard, harder than most kids in the area, to achieve that. I think her four-year tenure for me was ... in my opinion (statewide sports writers) got it right this year, making her First Team. She’s been an outstanding player for me and Kennedy Catholic High for the past four years, and she’ll go on and be a great player at Akron.”
Burns recently had been selected by Youngstown-area’s MyValleySports.com as its coach of the year, so he admitted Thursday’s revelation,
“ ... is disheartening. There’s a lot of upset parents that don’t understand. I don’t think anybody ever will.
“It’s a political move, but it’s happening everywhere,” he added.
Recently, 10-year Hickory High boys head coach Nick Cannone was notified his position was being opened after 7 straight winning seasons.
A telephone call to Father Marc Stockton, president of the Shenango Valley Catholic School System, was not returned. But Piccirilli, speaking on behalf of the school’s administration, said, “Any time (a school) opens a position, everybody’s welcome to re-apply.”
“ ... It’s been a good time, but I’m most upset for my little Hannah,” Burns said regarding his youngest daughter, a 14-year-old 8th-grader.
“ ... That’s my old school,’ Burns said regarding Kennedy Catholic, “but I guess you just roll with the times ...”
Another day, another Mercer County cage coaching casualty.
LOCAL COLLEGE SPORTS: Thiel's Schafer picked for NCAA Pathway Program
Thiel College assistant director of athletics and senior woman administrator Amy Schafer was one of just 12 individuals recently selected for the NCAA 2014 Pathway Program.
The Pathway Program exists to assist minority and/or female administrators who wish to become director of athletics as their next career step through education, training and mentoring. The program is designed to provide national exposure to its participants and to generate the opportunity to glean information and career guidance from the leadership of intercollegiate athletics administrators throughout the country.
Reynolds 20-year home mat streak halted
They say that all good things must end. Even winning streaks of local powerhouse Reynolds High wrestling team!
The Raiders of coach Casey Taylor dropped a tough 30-25 decision to Erie McDowell Tuesday night at Reynolds, the first home loss for the Raiders since 1993.
The Class AAA Trojans (2-0) last year rallied from a large deficit to beat Class AA Reynolds in Erie, 38-33. On Tuesday, the northerners also rallied from a 25-21 deficit in the final two matches to halt the streak.
Roundup: Sharon rallies to beat WM, 72-56
When West Middlesex High’s wonderful 2013 Final Four run ended last March 22, it was at Sharon’s Tiger gymnasium. And while Tuesday night’s circumstances were considerably less dramatic, they ended similarly.
The Big Reds built a 20-8 first-quarter bulge. Ultimately, however, West Middlesex made 27 miscues, resulting in a 72-56 District 10 inter-region setback at Sharon.
Roundup: WM girls beat UC; Sharpsville, KC fall
ä West Middlesex 52, Union City 27 — At Union City, coach Mike Williams’ Region 1-A Ms. Reds improved to 2-1 with a win over the Lady Bears of Region 4-AA.
Alyson Pierce scored 15 to lead WM, Noelle Murray registered 13 points and Allie Staunch bucketed 10 markers.
Hickory falls to Lions in PIAA Class AA western region final
SLIPPERY ROCK — Brett Brumbaugh brought Bill Brest back to reality.
Brest seemed, Saturday afternoon, momentarily lost in thought when a post-game question was posed. Perhaps it was because it had been 3 months since he had experienced the disappointment of defeat.
Brumbaugh-led South Fayette’s football team short-circuited a splendid season a step shy of the statewide stage for Brest and Hickory High with a 23-20 win over the Hornets in the PIAA Class AA western regional championship game.
SPORTVIEW: Browns, Steelers will both lose
THE CLEVELAND Browns quarterback position has been a revolving door this season, but at least one of the more successful signal-callers is back. Jason Campbell is recovered from a concussion and will start.
Does it really matter?
Roundup: Opening-weekend tipoff tourneys conclude
Kittanning Tipoff Championship
ä Hickory 60, Kittanning 32 — Coach Jeannette Whitehead’s Lady Hornets had an impressive weekend in winning the opening tourney of the season.
“It’s nice to get out of the game with a win,” said Whitehead. “The kids were anxious to get going.”
2013-14 hoops season begins with tipoff tourneys
Farrell Julius McCoy Tipoff Tourney
ä Kennedy Catholic 48, Imani Christian Academy 40 — The Golden Eagles set up an all local rematch with host Farrell by pulling away in the fourth quarter in a tight battle.
For KC, Gerald Zachar and Sam Crow each scored 13 points to pace the victory, Brown had 14 and Southerner 12 for Imani.
Brookfield boys win season-opener against Py Valley
It was a typical season-opener: Too many turnovers, some questionable shot selection, and careless personal fouls. But for Brookfield High boys’ bench boss Bill Kovach, “ ... always happy with a win.”
The Warriors were 7-for-10 from the free-throw line during the 4th frame, and held off Pymatuning Valley, 59-48, Tuesday night.
Hornets advance to semis with win over Central
DuBOIS, PA. — Some people could say the “third time is a charm.” For the Hickory High Hornets it was much more than that. In fact, it was glorious.
After losing in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs the last two years, the Hornets finally nailed down a victory with a 37-27 triumph over the Central Dragons from Martinsburg.
Lakeview falls to Clarion Area in PIAA quarterfinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — In the scholastic athletic arena, “mercy rule” — while not politically correct in hyper-sensitive 2013 society — is a relatively accepted term.
Clarion High’s football had mercy-ruled all 13 prior opponents this season. And the Bobcats seemed bent on continuing their commanding conquests during Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal-round meeting with Lakeview.
Hickory focused on winning PIAA opener
The calendar reminds us that Thanksgiving arrives a little later than usual this year. But as holiday traditions go, this one has been pretty productive for Hickory High head football coach Bill Brest.
“My wife always has me put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... and the next day, we’ve won. So I’ll be more than happy to help my wife put up the tree this Friday,” Brest related.
During the past 2 years Hickory has won District 10 titles on Thanksgiving weekend. But this year the Hornets harvested their 3rd consecutive crown last week, jettisoning Girard (21-10). Now Hickory (11-1) has a 1 p.m. date in DuBois Saturday against surprising Central-Martinsburg (11-2) in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Smart move by PIAA to schedule games early this weekend
Congratulations to the PIAA for making a good move that helps teams and fans of high school sports.
Wow, I haven’t been able to say that often enough!
But many of the high school football games this coming weekend will be played in the afternoon which is a real plus for traveling on possibly snow-blown highways at this time of the year.
Hornets 3-peat as D-10 champs with win vs. Girard
EDINBORO — When legendary coach Vince Lombardi said “the only good thing that comes from losing is the desire never to lose again,” he could very well have been referencing the future for Coach Bill Brest and his Hickory Hornets.
Since Hickory lost to Sharon, 14-6, in the 2010 District 10 finals in Brest’s first year at the helm of the team, the D-10 Class AA title game has belonged to Hickory. And Saturday afternoon at Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium, it was no different as the Hornets topped Girard, 21-10 for a third straight crown.
Sailors beat Devils to capture 1st District 10 title
NEW WILMINGTON — Lakeview may have a long way to go to equal Sharpsville’s success in the sport of football, but the Sailors jump-started the process Friday night.
With Blake Reddick roaring into the record book, the Sailors shut out Sharpsville, 27-0, in the District 10 Class A championship game at Greyhounds Stadium.
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