The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 20, 2011

CORY ISENBERG | Three more milestone moments

Cory Isenberg

JOHNSTOWN — The final week of the regular season saw three more basketball players ascend to the exclusive 1,000-point club, all seniors.

Forest Hills’ Tanner Thomas topped 1,000 points on Wednesday while Portage’s Sean Cronauer and Shade’s Chelsey Pongrac both reached the milestone on Thursday.

All three players head into the district playoffs, which begin today, with their respective squads.

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Long time coming: Three female basketball officials were presented with a unique opportunity on Thursday at Purchase Line High School.

Terri Piatak of Meyersdale, Sue Kovensky of Hollidaysburg and Vicki Markiewicz of Johnstown made history at when the trio officiated the Saltsburg-Purchase Line boys’ game, a 49-38 victory for the Red Dragons. It is believed to be the first time in Pennsylvania that the situation of three female officials overseeing a boys basketball game has occurred, according to Dr. Robert Lombardi with the PIAA.

“It was really a nice opportunity for me,” Markiewicz said.

“We got to ride up to the game together and all got our playoff assignments. Both of them have state playoff experience, so for me to step out on the court with them was really a great experience.”

Initially Markiewicz was reluctant to get on board.

“I turned them down the first time they asked me because at the time, I had a JV game,” Markiewicz said. “I finally broke to the peer pressure, and I’m really glad that I did.”

The concept of the three female officials at a boys game was the brainchild of Purchase Line Athletic Director Jim Klyap, who worked five years until it came to fruition on Thursday.

“Jim Klyap was great, he had everything laid out for us when we got there,” Markiewicz said.

“We got a great reception from the fans, from the players and from the coaches. I never thought something like this would happen.”

Scheduling conflicts and limited availability prevented history from happening until Thursday night, when the three came together at the Red Dragons gymnasium.

“The opportunity to come together is nice because a lot of people say there aren’t that many female officials,” Markiewicz said. “To even get three females on a female game, let alone a boys’ game, it’s an honor.

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Markiewicz is hoping that the opportunity that they received will continue to open doors for the future.

“I hope it gives any girl who has played basketball the idea of becoming an official,” Markiewicz said.

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WestPAC history: The Berlin Brothersvalley girls have made the most appearances in WestPAC championship games.

The Mountaineers have made eight appearances in the title game, winning the first two years and coming in as the runner-up five straight seasons, including Saturday night’s 11th annual game which saw Berlin fall to first-timer Windber.

Berlin was also a co-champ section leader with Rockwood in 2003-04, when the Rockets got to play for the crown.

The Conemaugh Valley girls are 3 for 3, winning the title in each of their championship appearances while Conemaugh Township and North Star have each won twice.

Despite their loss to Shade on Saturday night, North Star has the most boys’ titles and are 4 of 5. The Panthers are 2 for 4 in the title game while Windber has two wins in both its championship games. Shanksville-Stonycreek is 2 for 3 in the title game and Conemaugh Township has one crown.

Cory Isenberg is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat