MONESSEN – It was Dec. 8, 1986 that Monessen High’s girls basketball team beat visiting Mapletown, 61-48, as Lisa Moore came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points and Nadine (Peachie) Turner added 17.
That was also the first victory for 39-year-old rookie coach Major Corley.
Twenty years and 534 games later, Corley will be attempting to join the prestigious 400 win club.
Corley can reach the milestone Thursday when his unbeaten Lady Greyhounds host once-beaten Serra Catholic in an attractive Section 3 opener between two of the WPIAL’s better Class A teams.
In his 21st year, Corley never expected to be the dean of area high school girls’ basketball coaches.
“There’s no way I thought I’d be here this long,” said Corley. “The only reason I took the job was because they couldn’t find a coach and Joe (Salvino), who ran the entire basketball program, asked me.”
Corley didn’t get off a good start with a 7-10 record in his rookie season and after three years his record was an unimpressive 21-40.
After opening with three straight losing campaigns, Corley has been one of the WPIAL’s more successful coaches victories over the last 17 campaigns averaging 22 victories and this season is off to a 5-0 start.
Corley has had more than his share of milestone wins.
There was No. 100 Dec. 16, 1993 when Gina Naccarato poured in 29 points in a 71-27 rout of West Greene.
There was No. 200 Jan. 12, 1998 when Latitia Williams’ 18 points highlighted a 49-23 victory over Mapletown.
There was No. 300 March 9 , 2002 in the PIAA playoffs when the Lady Greyhounds downed Coudersport, 54-36, behind Charel Allen’s 28 points.
There was the Lady Greyhounds’ first WPIAL championship win over Our Lady of Sacred Heart at the Pitt Field House in 1995.
There were the two WPIAL title victories over Serra Catholic at Duquesne University’s Palumbo Center in 2004 and the past season.
There was the Lady Greyhounds’ first and only PIAA championship victory at the Hershey Giant Center over Pottsville Nativity BVM, 70-48, March 20, 2004.
While Corley has enjoyed plenty of big wins, there’s one of his 135 defeats that stands out.
“I consider the 54-46 overtime loss to Bishop Carroll at Indiana University in the third round of the PIAA playoffs my biggest loss,” he recalled.
Corley has taken Monessen to the WPIAL playoffs the last 17 years including 12 PIAA playoff appearances.
Besides coaching powerhouse teams, Corley has also guided 11 of the school’s 13 1,000 point scorers including the top three in Naccarato, Allen and Williams as well as Kelly Carroto, Angie Scirotto, Beth Planey, Perrial Pearson, Nychole Whitlock, Angie Scirotto, Turner, Nicole Naccarato and Carla Howard.
Corley has no intention of retiring after this season.
“This year’s team should be good and next year’s team should be even better,” he smiled.