Last updated: January 04. 2014 3:59PM - 2824 Views
By - nwagner@timesleader.com

Brandon Matthews, right, embraces his father and caddie, Ted, following Matthews quarterfinal loss at the 113th U.S. Amateur Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Brandon Matthews, right, embraces his father and caddie, Ted, following Matthews quarterfinal loss at the 113th U.S. Amateur Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
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Call it a Baker’s Dozen.

The Sunday Dispatch staff selected the top 13 Greater Pittston sports stories of 2013.

Here’s the list:

1. Stephanie Jallen’s road to Sochi

Stephanie Jallen, a senior at Wyoming Area and a member of the Paralympic National Alpine Ski Team with an overall ranking of 6th in the World Cup standings, qualified to compete at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia from March 7 through March 16, 2014.

Out of the five disciplines of Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, and Super Combined, Jallen is thus far qualified to race Slalom and Giant Slalom. She qualified for Sochi by garnering a Silver and Bronze Medal in Giant Slalom during the Australian World Cup in September. During the same competition, she grabbed a Gold Medal in Slalom.

In the Gold Medal competition, Jallen topped all other racers in the women’s field, which encompasses the sitting division, standing division and visually impaired classes combined.

With the success from the Australian World Cup, Jallen has proven that she is capable of podium potential at Sochi.

Although Jallen has qualified, and shows podium potential in two disciplines, does not mean her ticket to Russia is secured. The official list of Paralympic Athletes going to Russia will be selected in February.

Jallen had her left leg amputated when she was an infant and has a shortened left arm as a result of Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosis and Limb Defects (CHILD) Syndrome.

It has been Jallen’s goal since she started skiing at the age of nine to compete in the Paralympic games.

Jallen added to her chances to make the Paralympic team by taking a Gold Medal in Giant Slalom, a Gold in the Super Combined and two-Bronze Medals in both Super G races.

Jallen will continue her efforts up until February by competing to earn her place to represent the USA at the Paralympic Winter Games.

2. Matthews’ U.S. Open charge

He was part of highlights on the Golf Channel, and ESPN. What former Pittston Area standout golfer Brandon Matthews did in 2013 was that special.

Matthews made a miraculous chip-in the for par on the 18th hole at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., site of a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier, and a 2-under-par finish. The shot, at that time, put Matthews into one of four available qualifying positions.

Although Matthews never played in the U.S. Open, he was there at Merion Country Club, soaking it all in. Following the experience he told the Dispatch, “To see how those guys hit, the biggest thing I got out of it was I think I can do it. I think I belong out there. I think I can hang.”

Bodes well for what 2014 may bring.

3. Old Forge’s state final run

It may have taken the whole town of Old Forge to stop North Catholic’s P.J. Fulmore from charging to a state championship.

Fulmore followed his overtime touchdown run by somehow wriggling through the Old Forge defense to score a two-point conversion — barely — on a quarterback keeper that lifted Pittsburgh’s Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic to the PIAA Class A title with a dramatic 15-14 win over the crushed Blue Devils at Hersheypark Stadium.

The Blue Devils simply had their hearts broken. Shane Schuback fell to his knees, quarterback/safety Jake Manetti buckled in stunned disbelief and the rest of the Blue Devils shared similar reactions of gut-wrenching grief.

Their dream of accomplishing the school’s first state football championship ended just short, because Fulmer wouldn’t stop shy of a goal line he crossed by mere inches.

Fulmore, who carried 33 of the Trojans’ 40 rushing plays on quarterback draws, gained a game-high 109 yards. Old Forge outgained North Catholic, 219-145 and accomplished 12 first downs to the Trojans’ 9.

4. Hopkins scores 1,500th career point.

Pittston Area’s Mia Hopkins was on the floor the night Pittston Area guard Lauren Smicherko scored her 1,000th career point in 2009. Hopkins was just a freshman but in a preview of things to come she was the leading scorer for PA that night with 28 points.

When Hopkins scored her 1000th point last season she became the 11th PA girl to do so and only the third to do it as a junior and the third to surpass 1,500 after phenom Cindy Czerniakowski in 1988 and Kristen Baumes in 2007.

Hopkins passed 1,500 in Pittston Area’s 69-28 win over Coughlin. Czerniakowski, who earned 15 varsity letters in five different sports, is the all-time PA scoring leader with 1,874 points.

Against Coughlin, Hopkins scored 14 of her game-high 32 points in the first quarter.

5. Barber scores 100th goal

Pittston Area junior Allie Barber reached an uncommon feat with her 100th career goal on the pitch for the Patriots back in mid-September.

Barber accomplished the feat with a season and a half to go in her high school career. Certainly 100 goals in soccer is far less common than 1,000 points in basketball. The milestone came early in a game against MMI Prep. Barber scored four of her team’s first five goals in a 14-2 rout.

Barber scored 46 goals as a freshman to lead the WVC in scoring — that’s when soccer was still a spring sport. In the fall of that year, Barber scored another 43 goals, good for second in the WVC.

6. D’Eliseo’s District medals

The Patriot senior broke all kinds of school records. But his performance at the District 2 Class AAA Track and Field championships puts him on this list.

D’Eliseo earned the maximum four gold medals — two in individual events and two in relays — that propelled him to to the state championships at Shippensburg University.

D’Eliseo earned individual gold in the 11-meter hurdles and the 300 hurdles. He was the anchor of the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

The Pittston Area runner went on to get two 4th place medals at the state championships at Shippensburg.

7. Gattuso shines in rivalry game

The Patriots scored all four of their touchdowns from 50 or more yards out, led by a pair of Kyle Gattuso long runs in the first quarter, to upend Wyoming Area, 28-14, in the 47th regular season match up between the teams on the gridiron.

Gattuso racked up 123 yards in the first quarter, including scoring runs of 60 and 66 yards, on his way to the 36th annual Carmello Falcone Memorial Most Valuable Player award. He finished the game with 210 yards on 25 carries.

Wyoming Area still leads the all-time series 25-24 — the teams have played in two playoff games.

8. PA girls swim to unbeaten season

They had to beat their rivals. And they did.

Pittston Area’s girls swim team took down Wyoming Area in February to finish the regular season 10-0 in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3 for the third straight season.

The Patriots were led by standout swimmer Mia Nardone. The swimmers improved to a 37-2 record in-division in their careers.

9. Pittston field hockey earns first title

It was a long time coming for Pittston Area. And it knew it pretty much had the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 title wrapped up by mid-October. But the Patriots needed to make it official.

Pittston Area claimed its first divisional title in field hockey after defeating Elk Lake 1-0.

The Patriots got a score from Alana Platukus at the 5:42 mark in the first half then held on for the victory.

Pittston Area, in the midst of one of its finest field hockey seasons, fell to Crestwood in the quarterfinals of the Distict 2 Class AAA Championships.

10. Lady Pats win D1 Track title

In the second week of May, the Pittston Area girls track and field team defeated Dallas, 85-65 to officially claim the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 title. It was the first title for the team in 25 years.

The Patriots finished the regular season 7-0, exceeding the expectations of coach Joe Struckus: “Yes, they exceeded all expectations,” he said.

The undefeated season and the WVC title was clinched when Emily Waleski, Tiffany Tubioli and Olivia Lanza swept the 300 hurdles.

One of the biggest days the Patriots had on the track was earlier in the season against Hazleton. Both teams went into the meet 3-0, but Pittston came out on top of an 82-65 decision.

Madison Mimnaugh broke the school record in the 1,600 by six seconds. Also in that meet, Sierra Williams set a school record in the pole vault at 8 feet, six inches. Catherine Lombardo tied the school record in the 800 with a time of 2:22.

11. Buzzer-beater lifts Patriots

James Tobisch’s floater from the lane with three seconds left didn’t drop through for Pittston Area. Luckily, Mason Gross was in the right place at the right time.

The 6-foot-5 junior snagged the rebound and his mini-hook dropped through the nylon with no time left as Patriots survived a test from No. 12 seed Coughlin, 48-46, in the opening round of the District 2 Class 3A playoffs in mid-February.

Pittston avenged a loss to Coughlin just five days earlier, and moveed to the quarterfinals. The Patriots eventually lost to Scranton Prep, 57-24.

Gross finished the game with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

12. Gigiello earns 500th win at King’s

Pittston Area sports Hall of Famer Lisa Gigiello won her 500th game coaching King’s College softball in the spring of last year.

Gigiello grew up in the Old Boston section of Pittston. In her 20 years coaching at King’s, Gigiello has a .750 Mid Atlantic Conference (MAC) winning percentage. She was named the MAC Freedom Coach of the Year three times. In 2005, the Monarchs won their sixth straight MAC Freedom championship and came within one game of the College World Series.

Gigiello is a full-time electrial engineer at UGI, therefore she doesn’t got a whole lot of time for recruiting. So, as you can imagine, she gets a lot of local players.

This season’s team had several local players, including Wyoming Area’s Karissa Kross. Over the seasons she’s had a log of talented players from the Greater Pittston area including Maria Zangardi and Marie Roth from Seton Catholic and Julie Bidwell, Kelly Vaxmonsky and Nikki Kotula from Pittston Area.

13. Lacrosse begins at Pittston Area

The score was ugly. The game was beautiful.

The Pittston Area girls lacrosse team lost 18-1 to Delaware Valley on Tuesday in Hughestown, but it didn’t matter, because history was made.

The game was the first-ever lacrosse game at PA and it was the culmination of dream for a lot of Pittston Area parents and athletes. Playing in hand-me-down soccer jerseys and with sticks and protective goggles they bought themselves, the girls were thrilled just be on the field.

Pittston Area fell to Coughlin, 10-4, in the first round of the District 2 Lacrosse Championships.

Pioneers of Pittston Area lacrosse were: seniors Jordan Cumbo, Carmella Gagliardi, Kaalyn Girman, Liz Mikitish, and Rachel Simansky; juniors Emily Herron, Sara Ruby, Ciara Smith; sophomores, Kristen Capitano, Bianca Concert, Linko Rebecca, Elaina Menichelli, Britney Pintha, Katelyn Pugliese, Sydney Ralston, Nicole Walters; freshmen Kayla Williams, Dana Zalewski, Brianna Falvo, Kallie Healey, Nicole Karuzie, Tabytha Bastek, Bianca Mattei-Miller, Lucia Menichelli-Bales, Alyssa Neare, Haley Norwillo.

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