Sunday, January 29, 2023

Mahanoy Area Commemorates Anniversaries of State Championships

On Saturday, a special ceremony brought players and coaches of two state championship teams back to Mahanoy Area.

In 1988 Coach Joe Alansky and his girls basketball team brough home gold to Mahanoy Area. 10 years later in 1998, he did it again. On Saturday, 35 years later, both teams and coaching staff were honored at the same home gym where those championship teams were made, and the same gym that is named after the legendary coach. 

To recognize the milestone anniversaries of both teams, Mahanoy Area invited them back to where it all began. 

The 1988 team finished their season 32-2 after winning the Schuylkill League Division 3 Championship, District XI Class A Championship, and defeated Ferndale 74-53 to capture the Class A State Championship.

The team members included: Natalie Alansky Zawada, Lori Krukas Rizzo, Renee Kern, Meggan Yedsena, Donna Bova, Brenda Wishnefsky, Pauline Danasavich, Ceane Haughney, Marsha Kaminsky, Ali Rhoades, Robin Wolgang, Cindy Benjamin, Ally Blue, and JeanMarie Gavula.  The team was coached by Alansky and Sharon Seritsky and team statistician Nikki Mammerella.

The 1998 team finished their season 27-4 winning the District XI Class A Championship and capturing the Class A State Title after defeating Bishop Carroll 54-33.

The team members included: Monica Fallon Williams, Katie Peca Lee, Laurie Scherer, Nicole Rafferty Keiner, Dorettah Klinger-Clark, Tammy Hutira Hornung, Andraleen Zelonis Savlik, Hope Hutira Green, Crystal Bickowski, Keri Morgans Holley, and Tricia Breznitsky Foster.  The team was coached by Alansky along with Scott Alansky, and Dot Demmer.

After introducing the team members that were present for Saturday's ceremony, Alansky spoke to his team, friends, and supporters that were in attendance.

He thanked the administration and athletics department for the invite, and he talked about his former players.

"There was only one rule I gave to the teams, don't embarrass your uniform.  I didn't have rules, if they embarrassed the uniform, we would have taken it from there." Alansky said.

He then thanked Sharon Seritsky, Scott Alansky, and Dot Demmber, who helped him coach both teams.  His trainers Gina Capone, Jeff Donnelly, and Mike Misstishen.

Alansky held back tears as he talked about his scorekeeper Robert "Lammie" Gallagher who has passed away in 2017.  He also mentioned his former coach and mentor, Dave Linkhorst.

"These girls were special, they knew what they had to do, and they went out there and they did it". Alansky said about the teams.

"The girls asked me one time prior to practice, could they play a tape.  I said of course, they could play any song.  The only request I had was the second song on the tape was for me.  I wanted a song where I could sit back and get my composure while they practiced before a game."

The team, knowing Alansky was a huge Neil Diamond fan chose "Sweet Caroline".  The song was played and the team and crowd in attendance song the first verse of the song.

After the ceremony, both teams stuck around to watch the current varsity girls' basketball team play Jim Thorpe.