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WPIAL Hall of Fame calls Monessen’s Gina Naccarato

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Darnell Graham | For Trib Total Media
Monessen girls coach Gina Naccarato will enter the WPIAL Hall of Fame this year.

Gina Naccarato blazed a lot of trails during her athletic career at Monessen High School.

She led the school to its first-ever WPIAL girls’ basketball title, and along the way she scored a WPIAL record 3,364 points.

Her class also started the girls’ soccer program at Monessen, where the 5-3 dynamo scored 158 goals, which still stands as 10th best all-time in the WPIAL.

And she was part of the first-ever girls’ softball team put together at Monessen.

In the Monessen High gymnasium, a banner honoring her points record hangs among the other championship banners.

More than two decades later, Naccarato is still blazing new trails.

This one leads to the WPIAL Hall of Fame, and it may now be time to get another banner with her name on it.

Naccarato, a 1996 Monessen graduate, is part of the hall of fame’s Class of 2015, which was announced Thursday at a press conference at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

Induction ceremonies will be June 12 during a banquet at the Double Tree by Hilton in Green Tree.

“It’s a great honor, although it is not one I sought out,” said Naccarato, who is a teacher at Monessen and serves as the school’s girls’ varsity basketball coach and athletic director. “I’ve never been one to seek individual honors, but this certainly is a pleasant surprise for me. I’m honored and humbled. I’m very appreciative.”

While Naccarato didn’t seek the limelight, it was hard to keep her out of it during her career at Monessen.

She averaged 29.8 points per game in basketball and was part of four section champion teams, three PIAA playoff teams and played in three WPIAL title games, winning one in her junior year (1995).

After graduating, she accepted a scholarship at Duquesne University where she played four years of Division I basketball for the Dukes.

A quiet but fiery competitor in all sports, Naccarato passed off credit for her high school success the way she dished out assists during her scholastic and collegiate basketball careers.

“I guess we created a lot of new opportunities when I was in high school at Monessen, but I think it was more my class than just me,” she said. “We had a lot of good athletes I went to school with at that time … Beth Planey, Brandy Mason, Amanda Higgins and some others. We had a lot of talent then and we all played together. It was a good time at Monessen.”

Naccarato was nominated for the hall of fame by Brian Sutherland, a principal at Yough who served in the same capacity at Monessen.

Also in the Class of 2015 is Frazier graduate Joe Lafko.

A 1984 graduate of Frazier, he has won more than 400 games as the Hampton boys’ basketball coach.

A multi-sport star at Frazier, Lafko holds the state record for career interceptions (37, with 22 in one season), scored 1,763 points in basketball and hit .537 as a junior shortstop.

Other members of the Class of 2015 are Freeport’s Jeff Christy, Upper St. Clair’s Missie Berteotti, North Allegheny’s Paul Failla, Mt. Lebanon’s Kaitlyn E. Ortsein-Fife, Penn Hills’ Tom Tumulty and coaches Joe Hamilton, Ed Olkowski, Corky Semler and Dave Warner.

In addition, the 1990 Penn Hills girls’ basketball team and the 1971 Kiski Area football team are going in, along with Tito Francona (Heritage Award), Howard Crawford (contributor), Kathy Ridilla (contest official) and the late Jaime Vick Moran and Ellen Toy (Courage Award).

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or [email protected].

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