THEY’RE CELEBRITIES now. Not like Elvis, or The Beatles, or even the Michael Jordan-led 1990’s Chicago Bulls.
But in rural Mercer County, Lakeview High basketball players Dalton Boggs and Casey Greggs are as close as its gets to teen-aged head-turners.
Even on a Saturday afternoon at a girls’ basketball game, Boggs — blending into a crowd seems more in keeping with his personal profile preference, and his sidekick, the perpetually-grinning Greggs — draw attention.
Having played, less than 24 hours prior, in one of the most memorable games in the county’s tradition-rich hardwood history will do that.
The irony is that — while West Middlesex won the District 10 Class AA crown in 5 overtimes, 71-65 — in losing, Lakeview is lovable, because the Sailors showed no fear and so much heart.
As Herald sports writer Rob Malsom recently observed, years from now a million people will claim to have been in Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House on the night of March 1, 2013. But in reality it was the communities of West Middlesex, Sandy Lake/Stoneboro, and people on the periphery, mainly from the media.
But the stage belonged to Boggs, Greggs and their teammates; Middlesex’s Matt Dogan, Trey Staunch and the remainder of the Big Reds, and the respective coaches Chad Mild and Gary Burke.
Boggs boasted a 25-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist line, while Greggs grabbed a half-down rebounds in addition to scoring 16 points and handing out a handful of assists, and Coty Gander got a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double. They were outdone — slightly — by Dogan’s 36-point, 9-rebound, 6-assist performance and Staunch’s 16-point, 13-rebound twin-killing, and Jeremy Jancso joined in with a dozen points (statistics courtesy of Grove City College sports information director Ryan Briggs).
More impressive, Boggs, Dogan and Staunch played all 52 minutes, Jancso 51, and Greggs 49 before fouling out.
“It was a crazy game,” began Boggs, while standing in iconic E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, where 7 state championship banners blew back and forth in a breeze. He paused, pondering the game’s historical significance before adding, “It’s definitely going to go down as one of the best games in District 10 history. We went out there and played tough.
Looking back,” Boggs admitted, “I’m not mad that we lost the game now. It was a hard-fought battle. We knew, coming in, we wanted to give them a dogfight. It was the third time we played them, so we got excited for that game.”
While the outcome played out over the course of those five 4-minute extra sessions, frenetic fans and families felt helpless, coaches called an endless series of times-out, writers ran out of adjectives. But one constant remained — a smile plastered on Greggs’ face each time he emerged from one of Burke’s huddles. Fearful? Nervous? Nah. Greggs would look up into the rafters waving his arms to exhort Lakeview’s fan-base.
“I just figured, whatever happens, I’m just taking in the moment, enjoying myself and trying to get everyone else to enjoy it, you know what I mean,” Greggs rhetorically asked, smiling at the recollection.
West Middlesex won the regular-season Region 2-AA championship, in part by sweeping the Sailors. But Greggs said the D-10 title tilt was different because, “We went out in the first two games and they put double digits (losses) on us both times. But we decided we weren’t going to take it this time, and we gave them a dogfight.
“We know who we are,” Greggs emphasized, “and we came in and did what we could do and gave them a game.”
“It was the most fun game I’ve ever played in,” Boggs admitted. “Great atmosphere, and I’ll never forget it.”
Echoed Greggs, “It’s unbelievable, the support that we get! When we can do things like that just to make it worth (fans’) while to come, it means so much to all of us.”
Boggs and Burke celebrated on the same evening in Sharpsville a few weeks ago. Boggs — as Greggs had previously done — reached the 1,000-point plateau while Burke brokered his 200th career coaching win in his 13th season as Sailors’ skipper.
Greggs, regarding Burke, observed, “We get along. We have a good relationship in basketball, and he pushes me more than anyone’s ever pushed me before, so I have ‘mad’ respect for him for that.”
“Like Casey said, (Burke) pushes us all and he cares about us all,” Boggs agreed. “He’s a great coach, and we just go out and play hard for him every game.”
Boggs’ dynamic is different as his dad, Larry, is Burke’s lead assistant. The son said of his father, “Basketball definitely brings us closer together, and he’s good at knowing when to be a coach, and when to be my dad.”
The best part? Both teams are preparing for the PIAA playoffs, which commence this coming weekend. And perhaps the most salient point made Friday night was by Burke.
Mere moments after the Sailors suffered the setback, Burke brought some perspective by peeking from the present to the immediate future:
“Let’s see,” he said, eyes sparkling, “if we can’t find that same basketball team (West Middlesex) for a fourth time in one year, because it was a heckava battle. Two teams that didn’t want to lose. It was a heckava six-dollar event for most of these people who walked in the door.”
“I hope so. It’d be a great story ... western final,” Boggs said. “It’s been our goal all year to make a state run, so we’re gonna see what we can do in the state playoffs, and hopefully meet ’em for a fourth time. It’s all we can wish for at this point.”
“I’m hoping to go the whole way, that’s the only goal in mind right now, “Greggs added. “We were looking for D-10 and we didn’t get that, so we might as well make another step.”
The question remains, however: Following Friday’s phenomenal feature, how much more can the rest of us take? Or, perhaps, it’s that we can’t get enough of this.
Ed Farrell is assistant sports edtior for The Herald.
5-overtime game was one for the ages
THEY’RE CELEBRITIES now. Not like Elvis, or The Beatles, or even the Michael Jordan-led 1990’s Chicago Bulls.
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.
Hornets seek 3-peat Saturday vs. Girard
Bill Brest ... buffer?
Hickory High’s head football coach has broad shoulders and that’s necessary, because he’s taking on all distractions as his Hornets prepare for Saturday’s District 10 Class AA championship game.
Hickory (10-1) will attempt to hoist the D-10 trophy for a 3rd consecutive season when the Hornets journey to Girard’s backyard — Edinboro University’s Sox Harrison Stadium — to meet the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.
Hickory rolls past Northwestern in D-10 semifinals
SLIPPERY ROCK — They say that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” You can bet the Northwestern Wildcats are feeling a bit of the latter for the Hickory Hornets!
For a third straight season Hickory eliminated the northerners from the District 10 Class AA playoffs, this time by a 52-14 score in the semifinals Saturday night at Slippery Rock University’s Thompson-Mihalik Stadium.
Greenville falls to Girard in D-10 semifinals
ERIE — District 10 was destined for a Class AA championship game between reigning 2-time titlist Hickory and Greenville.
But no one informed the Girard High football team of the plans.
“ … This is pretty cool … I’m pretty fired up about it,” admitted 4th-year Yellow Jackets’ head coach Jim Funk after Girard jolted Greenville, 16-14.
SPORTVIEW: Season fate could be decided today for Browns, Steelers
IT MAKES NO sense to say that one game determines the rest of the season. That’s why I’ll simply say: Today’s one game determines the rest of the season.
Since when did my predictions make sense anyhow?
The Cleveland Browns’ visit to Cincinnati today will go a long way to deciding if the Browns have a shot at making the playoffs — and even winning the AFC North title — or if they should start planning for the NFL draft.
GCC tops Thiel in OT to win Mercer County Cup
The Grove City and Thiel College football teams closed out their seasons on Saturday with a thrilling game at Alumni Stadium in Green-ville as Grove City posted a 50-44 overtime win in the 30th annual Mercer County Cup Game.
Quarterback Brian Pell scored on a 13-yard run for the Wolverines (3-5, 5-5) to give GCC the win in OT.
Devils beat WM; will play for 3rd straight D-10 title
Two-time defending District 10 Class A champion Sharpsville is returning to the D-10 title game for a third straight year and Coach Paul Piccirilli has a simple explanation for the team’s success:
“We believe. Kids in Sharpsville believe.”
A lot of people are believing as well after watching the Blue Devils dismantle West Middlesex, 40-3, Friday night at Hickory High Hornets Stadium.
Spence, Sailors roll past Mercer, 52-21
NEW WILMINGTON — Pat McClearn lived Lakeview High football program’s previous gridiron glory days. Unfortunately for him on Friday night he was on the business end of the current Sailors’ resurgence.
McClearn and his Mercer High Mustangs were eliminated by Lakeview from the District 10 Class A semifinals, 52-21.
Long gone basketball league leaves a costly legacy
If you want to mark yourself as a graying old-timer, bring up the American Basketball Association – the professional league that featured large Afros, slam dunk contests, three-point baskets and a red, white and blue basketball.
Oh, yes, it also had a great collection of players - perhaps the best on the globe - who brought athleticism, skill and excitement to a game that had become somewhat stodgy in the more established National Basketball Association.
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