Sunday March 13, 2022 | 12:01
A trio of women’s basketball teams from Pine-Richland will have the chance to take on some of the best competition in the state.
The fourth, fifth and sixth grade teams qualified for the National Youth Basketball Tournament March 18-20 at State College.
Newly hired Pine-Richland football coach Jon LeDonne helps coach the fourth-year team.
“The state tournament has only been around for four years, so it’s relatively new for youth teams,” LeDonne said. “We just want to promote women’s athletics as much as possible.”
Each Pine-Richland group qualified through a local tournament. There will be over 200 teams from across the state competing in different age groups between boys and girls.
There was a girls’ pep rally on March 10 in Pine-Richland. Two Rams varsity sisters, Sarah and Katie Pifer, spoke to the youth teams at the pep rally.
Sarah Pifer said a state tournament didn’t exist when she was in elementary school, so she’s thrilled to see that this experience was created for younger players.
“I’ve been playing since second grade, so this will be my 10th year playing basketball, and I think it’s important to not only support young girls, but to show them that their hard work and sacrifice will pay off for me. their college years,” Sarah Pifer said. “I remember going to college games when I was in elementary school and looking up to those college players. I think it’s cool now that I have the opportunity to set an example for younger girls. It’s important as college players that we understand that they look up to us. I was excited to talk to them and hope my sister and I will have a positive impact on them.
Laffey and Ferraro advance
Kelin Laffey won silver at the WPIAL Championship last week, but that was enough to give him a shot at national gold.
Laffey fell in a close 5-4 decision over Dylan Evans for Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL 152-pound final in only his second loss of the season.
A potential rematch loomed with Evans seeded first and Laffey third in the March 10-12 state tournament.
Anthony Ferraro (126) lost a 5-2 decision to Waynesburg’s Zander Phaturos in the third-place game but still earned one of four State bids.
Ferraro, a junior, and Laffey, a senior, entered the state tournament for the first time.
Joey Schneck (285) also won a medal at the WPIALs with a sixth place finish.
Swimmers make states
Five swimmers from Pine-Richland and three relay teams qualified for the national swimming competition at the WPIAL Championships this past weekend in Trees Pool.
Sisters Elizabeth and Sarah Anne Shaffer qualified in the 100m breaststroke. Sarah Anne finished third at the WPIALs and Elizabeth tied for sixth. Both sisters were part of the women’s relay team which is tied to the state. Along with Mila Cribbs and Delaney Allen, the Shaffer sisters were on the 200 medley relay that placed fourth at the WPIAL meet.
Elizabeth joined Allen, Cribbs and Eleah Dickson in the 200m freestyle relay team that finished 10th at the WPIAL.
Trent Vacula qualified in two individual events. He placed seventh in the 500m freestyle and 200 individual medley at the WPIAL.
Justin Bogacz was fourth in the 100 butterfly and Matthew Carper was eighth in the 200 IM.
Vacula, Carper and Bogacz joined Will Laubacher in the 200 medley relay team that placed seventh at the WPIAL.
The PIAA meet will be held March 16-19 in Bucknell.
Boyd chooses college
Ava Boyd won’t be changing her school colors after graduating from Pine-Richland next year.
Boyd, a junior football star, announced his commitment to Michigan State on March 8.
Boyd has been training in virtual sessions with the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team during the pandemic and was able to show off her skills in front of college scouts at the Elite Clubs National League U16-17 National Selection Game on Jan. 8 in Bradenton. , in Florida.
She did not play for the Rams football team this year to focus on team camps and training with her club team at the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy.
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer