Basketball has always been in his blood, from the first time he picked up a ball.
He learned the game from his father, uncle and cousins. Year ’round, year after year. So it was inevitable Matt Votino would blossom into a ’baller.
“I don’t remember never being at a basketball game,” Votino recently related. “Both my dad and uncle coached, so as soon as I could walk I was in (the gym) watching and learning.”
Following a stellar scholastic career at Hickory High, Votino will matriculate at NCAA Division III University of Mount Union to continue his education and cage career.
“It just seemed right. I really love the coaches and really wanted to play for them. They seem like genuine guys,” Votino explained.
The 2012-13 Purple Raiders recorded a 13-15 ledger under head coach Mike Fuline, but advanced to the Ohio Athletic Conference title tilt before bowing at Marietta (80-76).
Votino visited the Alliance, Ohio campus, and after considering Allegheny, Juniata and D-II Slippery Rock University, he opted to matriculate at Mount Union.
“It just seemed right. I really love the coaches, really wanted to play for them. They’re real, genuine guys,” Votino said.
After securing 2nd-Team honors as a sophomore for Hickory head coach Nick Cannone, Votino vaulted to a 1st-Team District 10 All-Region berth as both a junior and senior. Ultimately he was chosen to the All-D-10 1st-Team (all classifications) as a senior. He scored 1,243 points for the Hornets, who qualified for the postseason all 4 years.
He honed his skills during that same span playing for the New Jersey Cyclones coached by Mike Cervillino.
“I traveled to New Jersey evey weekend during the the AAU season for four years (about 50 games a season) to play against the top AAU teams in the country, and was one of the leading scorers on the team,” Votino related. “Mike Cervillino has coached close to a hundred Division I and II players and a handful of NBA players.”
A standout for his father at the former Notre Dame elementary school, Votino recalled,
“Coming in to Hickory, they had a lot of really good players on that team, but my dad told me if I worked hard, I’d play varsity. I thought he was crazy — a freshman coming in and playing varsity? I didn’t think that’d be possible. But as my career went on I set goals for myself, and a lot of them I achieved.”
As time progresses at the next level — ideally, winning the OAC championship and qualifying for the NCAA D-III Tournament — Votino envisions continued improvement.
“The (Purple Raiders’) offense is fast-paced, but the coaches stress defense,” Votino explained, noting, “but they also have a place for shooters, a lot of three-point opportunities.
“The first year, maybe just a couple minutes (per game), working myself in(to the rotation). But after that,” Votino forecasted, “hopefully becoming a bigger part of the building process.
“I had other options, but ... this was the best fit basketball-wise and education-wise,” emphasized Votino, who is trying to decide between sports business management of exercise science for a career path. He was an honors student at Hickory.
Votino recalled his introduction to the sport, when he watched his cousins Ryan and Danny McElhinny helping Kennedy Catholic claim numerous commonwealth crowns.
“I remember all the Kennedy games, the playoffs, the trips to Hershey. That really made me like the game, and watching (his cousins) succeed just made me want to do more,” he related.
Votino expressed gratitude to Cannone, his right-hand man Rick Ladjevich and the remainder of Hickory’s coaching staff, Cervillino, and particularly his first mentor.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without my dad (Bob),” Votino emphasized, “it’s been my whole family (mother Kim and sister Courtney), but particularly my dad. He’s been there through everything — basketball and everything else. I’m so grateful to have him.”
Basketball has always been in his blood, from the first time he picked up a ball.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
Roundup: Hickory, Mercer, Reynolds, WM baseball teams earn wins
ä Hickory 12, Sharpsville 10 — At the McCullough Run Complex in South Pymatuning Twp., the visiting Hornets improved to 4-0 with the win.
Brady Leunis went 2-for-3 for Hickory with a double and 3 RBI, Tommy Cannon belted a 2-run homer, Noah Orndorff was 2-for-4, Nate Mastrian ripped an RBI-double, Ethan Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a run driven in and Jake Andrzjewski doubled.
Roundup: WM, Wilmington, Mercer softball teams win
ä West Middlesex 11, Grove City 1 (5 inn.) — At the Richard J. Kritz Softball Complex in West Middlesex, Jordyn Allen fired a complete-game 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks as the Ms. Reds (1-1) rebounded from a tough loss to Lakeview on Monday.
Offensively, Allen doubled and ripped 2 singles for WM, Abby McAdams and Aly Andrusky doubled and singled, Macy Siefert collected 4 singles and Hannah Havens, Megan Hazlett and Oivia Slater added 2 singles each.
Hickory girls, Farrell boys win Guerino titles
The Hickory girls and Farrell boys captured championships on Saturday night at the 17th annual Buddy Guerino Underclassmen Basketball Tournament at Sharpsville High School.
The Hickory girls beat Kennedy Catholic, 41-29, for the crown while the Farrell boys topped Mercer, 76-35, for the title.
In the consolation games, Sharpsville defeated Sharon, 35-15, in girls hoops while the Sharon boys beat Hickory, 57-33.
SPORTVIEW: Eagles' release of Jackson was a strange move
ONE OF THE strangest NFL moves I’ve seen in a long time involved the Philadelphia Eagles releasing DeSean Jackson.
Jackson is one of the top wide receivers in the league and a danger to score every time he touches the ball, including punt returns. But the big question is: Why was he just released? Couldn’t they find a trade at least to get some value back?
WM track teams go 6-1 at Big Red Duals
The West Middlesex girls and track teams both went 6-1 on Friday at the annual Big Red Relays. Both teams lost to Mohawk.
The WM boys beat A.C. Valley (129-17), Commodore Perry (120-26), Kennedy Catholic (128-18), Laurel (89-61), Sharon (108-38), Union (127-19) and lost to Mohawk (96-53).
The Ms. Reds topped A.C. Valley (128-18), Commodore Perry (120-22), Kennedy Catholic (123-14), Laurel (123-14), Laurel (89-56), Sharon 114-26, Union (107-33) and lost to Mohawk (96 1/2-48 1/2).
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