It was another unforgettable year in high school sports for The Daily Herald’s coverage area. There was a repeat girls basketball state championship, many more playoff wins in various sports, the return of a familiar face at Tyrone, and a couple big-time commitments from two area athletes to major Division I universities.
Here is a look at the Top 20 Daily Herald sports stories of the 2018-19 school year:
Led by Alli Campbell’s 24 points, the Bellwood-Antis girls basketball team defeated West Middlesex, 66-57, for their second PIAA Class 2A Championship in as many years at the Giant Center in Hershey.
West Middlesex jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the game, but the Lady Blue Devils’ got the three-ball going early and often like they had all season, and only trailed 9-8 at the end of the first.
Bellwood went ahead 27-23 at halftime before taking a lead by as many as 14 points in the second half before holding off the Big Red in the fourth quarter.
Like their first state championship in 2018, Bellwood-Antis will only be losing one senior in Riley D’Angelo, making it very possible that the Lady Blue Devils could possibly be back at Hershey in March of 2020.
It had been widely discussed around town for years, and when Tyrone’s football head coaching position came open in January, the rumors really started making their rounds.
In February, the Tyrone Area School Board made it official to hire back John Franco as the new head coach.
Franco had previously held the job from 1994-2011, where he led the Golden Eagles to a state championship in 1999, and also had two more trips to the state championship game in 1996 and 2011. He held a record of 190-37, with his teams winning eight district championships in that time.
Franco took over for Jason Wilson, who held the job for the last five years. Wilson had a career record of 33-25 and won a District 6 championship in his first season in 2014.
With her legacy at Bellwood-Antis already pretty solidified after her sophomore year, it was only a matter of time until the news came that Alli Campbell committed to a major university.
Campbell decided not to waste much time in her decision as she announced her commitment to continue her basketball career at the University of Notre Dame on Twitter in September.
Notre Dame had just been coming off a women’s basketball championship in 2018 under legendary head coach Muffet McGraw. The Fighting Irish are almost always in the conversation of national title contenders annually. McGraw also visited Bellwood-Antis for a game early this past season.
Campbell, who scored her 2,000th point as a junior in the ICC Championship game, had offers from over 30 Division I universities including Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, and Duke.
Tyrone’s Denver Light had a remarkable career as Tyrone’s quarterback and linebacker. In the early signing period in December, Light signed his letter of intent to continue his football career at Penn State.
Light collected over 2,500 passing yards for his career as a Golden Eagle, but signed as a preferred walk-on to be a linebacker with the Nittany Lions.
After making his commitment to Penn State official, Light spoke to Penn State head coach James Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry.
Before making the move to Penn State, Light was previously committed to Fordham University, but made the change almost immediately after receiving the preferred walk-on offer after visiting during a game last season.
The Tyrone girls 400-meter relay team of McKenzie Latchford, Elise Gailey, Brianna Foy, and Natalie Saltsgiver earned a district title with a time of 51.66 seconds in May.
The quartet, along with Tyrone’s Nick Vasbinder and Bellwood-Antis’ Joe Wertz and Shawn Wolfe, all went on to compete at the PIAA Championships.
Latchford also qualified for states in the 100-meter dash after placing second in that event at the District 6 meet.
The Tyrone boys 200 medley relay team of Jacob Decker, Matt Lenze, Songmian Wang, and Parker Bayard earned an automatic qualifier to the PIAA Swimming Championships with a district title in the event.
The team won the 200 MR with a time of 1:45.46, which not only gave them the district title, but also set a Tyrone High School record in the event.
The district title helped the Tyrone boys claim a second place spot in the team standings in the District 6 meet.
Riley D’Angelo, a Bellwood-Antis student that played soccer on Tyrone’s co-op team, scored her 76th goal in her final high school game in October to break the Tyrone girls soccer record.
D’Angelo needed just one goal to break the record, and for most of the game against Huntingdon, it had looked like she was going to leave the program tied for the lead.
However in the final minute, D’Angelo was rewarded a penalty kick, which she made to set the new record.
The previous record was held by Carrie Vance with 75 goals set in 2014.
Of course, the Backyard Brawl is only the first football game of the year, but for Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis, it might as well hold the same weight of a playoff game.
After falling to the Blue Devils in 2017, the Backyard Brawl Trophy made a return to Tyrone in 2018 as the Golden Eagles won, 16-7.
The two teams were tied 7-7 through three quarters, but quarterback Denver Light threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Damon Gripp early in the fourth quarter to break the tie before Golden Eagle kicker Keegan Raabe hit a late 21-yard field goal to put the game away.
Although they had a so-so regular season by finishing 7-7 in the Mountain League, the Golden Eagle soccer team saved one of their bests for the playoff run.
Tyrone, the No. 3 seed in the District 6 Class 3A Tournament, defeated No. 2 Hollidaysburg, 2-1, on the Golden Tigers’ home field for a major upset.
Hollidaysburg defeated Tyrone, 3-0, in the regular season.
The Golden Tigers took an early 1-0 lead, but Owen Shaulis tied the game at 1 with a goal midway through the first half.
Shaulis became the big hero again by scoring the go-ahead goal with five minutes remaining in the game, and the Golden Eagles held on from there for the major upset.
Coming from a 2A school and playing against a 5A school is usually a pretty daunting task, but it didn’t seem to faze the Bellwood-Antis boys basketball team in the Northern Blair County Kiwanis Tournament.
The Blue Devils made 10 three-pointers in the game and came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Hollidaysburg, 48-46, in overtime.
Bellwood-Antis senior leader Mason Yingling finished with 28 points in the game, including eight of the team’s 10 three-pointers. Nathan Wolfe added a dozen points.
It was another solid year for the Tyrone girls basketball team. The Lady Eagles posted an 18-8 record with another trip to the PIAA Class 3A playoffs, despite having only three seniors on a team filled with younger talent that started plenty of underclassmen.
But that younger talent certainly learned plenty from their leader, Sydney Shaw.
Shaw scored her 1,000th point in January in a win over Central. She became the 14th player in Tyrone girls basketball history to reach the milestone.
It was a completely different season from 2018 to 2019 for the Tyrone baseball team, and most would probably say it was nearly a 180-degree turn.
After winning only five games in 2018 and finishing near the bottom of the Mountain League standings, the Golden Eagles followed that up with an 18-4 season and a Mountain League championship.
Tyrone had plenty facets working right for them throughout the season, especially the stellar pitching they got throughout the season from Rodney Shultz and Kevin Lehner.
Tyrone earned a win in the district playoffs with a win in the quarterfinals over Penns Valley, but had their season end in a loss to Mount Union in the semifinals. Mount Union played for a state championship this week.
Looking back to where the Tyrone softball program was at even just a couple years ago is quite amazing compared to where they are today.
It was Doug Myers’ third year as the head coach for the Lady Eagles, and he and Tyrone softball earned their biggest signature win with a 2-0 victory over Bald Eagle Area in early May.
Tyrone pitcher Cate Baran held Bald Eagle Area to just two hits, while striking out eight on the day. At the plate, Tyrone had only five hits, but they took advantage of six BEA errors.
Bald Eagle Area played in the PIAA Class 3A Championship on Friday.
Tyrone’s Hunter Walk and Bellwood-Antis’ Trentin Whaley qualified for the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in March at 113 and 195 pounds, respectively.
Walk earned a third place finish at the District 6 Tournament before getting fourth at regionals to punch his ticket to the Giant Center in Hershey. Walk won a match at the state tournament, but did not place.
Whaley also earned a third place at districts before squeaking into states with sixth place finish at the Southwest AA Regional. Like Walk, Whaley also won a match at the Giant Center, but did not place.
Tyrone’s Zach Kohler and Bellwood-Antis’ Jenna Bartlett were the lone representative for each school to qualify for states in cross country this past fall.
Kohler, who signed to continue his cross country and track and field careers at Saint Francis next year, earned a fifth place finish at the District 6 meet with a time of 17:33.4.
Bartlett finished in 18th place at districts with a time of 22:45.1.
Although it was a disappointing start to the season for the Bellwood-Antis football team after losing to Tyrone in the Backyard Brawl, the Blue Devils rebounded in a big way.
Bellwood, under first-year head coach Nick Lovrich, rattled off nine wins in a row to finish the regular season to run the table against the Inter-County Conference.
The 9-1 regular season was good enough for a No. 3 seed in the District 6 Class 2A playoffs, where the Blue Devils downed No. 6 West Shamokin in the quarterfinals before falling to Ligonier Valley in the semifinals.
Tyrone’s Andrew Ferguson had easily cemented his place as one of the best golfers in District 6 over the season and in Tyrone school history, and delivered at the district tournament.
Ferguson carded a 78 in a card-off to take third place at the district tournament at Scotch Valley Country Club. He finished six shots behind district champion Jack Mangene of St. Josephs, and four shots back of Northern Cambria’s Tanner Pershing for second place.
Ferguson tied for 19th place after shooting a two-day total of 164 at the PIAA Championships at Heritage Hills Resort in York at the end of October.
Both the Bellwood-Antis boys and Tyrone girls basketball teams in their respective Class 3A tournaments as fourth place finishers in District 6.
The Blue Devils had to make an upset in the district tournament as the No. 5 seed. They knocked off No. 4 West Shamokin in the quarterfinals before falling in their next two games. They had the toughest draw possible in the first round of states against eventual state champion Lincoln Park, but the Blue Devils stood their ground in a 73-55 loss where Lincoln Park pulled away in the second half.
The Lady Eagles notched a win over United in the district quarterfinals to clinch a spot in state playoffs. They then fell to Penn Cambria and Central Cambria to get fourth place. They drew WPIAL champion Neshannock in the first round of states and made a great effort in a four-point loss.
One of Tyrone softball head coach Doug Myers’ goals when he first came to Tyrone was to find a freshman pitcher, and he ended up finding one of the best that the Mountain League has to offer.
Cate Baran set the career strikeout record early this season and picked up over 400 strikeouts by the time the season was over. The old record of 349 punchouts was set by Hillary McNelis back in 2004.
Baran, a junior, led her team to the district championship game this season, and will still have one more year to add on to the brand new record.
Although the Tyrone boys basketball team were young this season, they still had plenty of highlights, including two blowout wins in the Kiwanis Tournament over Christmas break that assured fans the future was bright.
The Golden Eagles earned easy wins over Tussey Mountain and Bellwood-Antis in the championship game. The win over Bellwood was their second rout over the Blue Devils in the first month of the season.
Tyrone finished the season with a 13-9 record, with some of those losses being very close against talented teams. Seven of their nine losses were by eight points or less, including the season-ending loss to Central in the District 6 Class 4A semifinals.