Neshannock's Grybowski captures 600th win in rout
Neshannock (60) Vs. Beaver Falls (32)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
Neshannock High girls basketball coach Luann Grybowski reached a milestone Thursday night.
Grybowski became just the third girls basketball coach in the WPIAL to reach 600 wins when her Lady Lancers squad cruised to a 60-32 WPIAL Section 1-3A road win over Beaver Falls.
Don Barth of North Catholic and De Porucznik of Mount Alvernia are the only other WPIAL girls coaches with at least 600 wins. There are a combined 19 WPIAL championships between those two retired coaches.
Grybowski, 59, is in her 37th season as a varsity girls basketball head coach with a 600-283 mark. She is a retired health and physical education teacher.
Varsity girls basketball in the WPIAL is in its 47th season.
Grybowski has coached at Shenango, Aliquippa and New Castle prior to Neshannock. She captured three WPIAL championships with the Lady 'Canes before resigning and taking the Lady Lancers' post in 2009.
"I'm honored to be in such a select group," Grybowski said. "When I look at it as who it is, it's even more amazing than I imagined.
"I'm only the second female in the girls game and the only coach from a public school on the girls side, which makes it more amazing. You coach whoever comes through your door. It's a lot of work. It doesn't come by accident. It comes from a lot of years and good players. You need support from the administration and athletic directors. You have to be surrounded by really, really good players. I've had some great players and good players. I've worked for great athletic directors and principals. It all plays a role or part of it; it's just fun. And as long is it's fun, I'm going to keep doing it. I've always been a competitor. I know that comes out in me as a coach. It's a way of still competing. I don't know if I ever saw myself getting this many (wins), though."
The 600th win is one that Grybowski will remember for quite some time. It came on the seventh anniversary of the death of Lucille Grybowski — Luann's mom. Lucille Grybowski attended many of the games Luann coached in, including the game the night she died.
"That's the most surreal part," Luann said of the anniversary of her mom's passing. "My mother was my biggest fan. I know she was up there looking down on me tonight. It was good. I didn't think about it until last week. I did feel a presence that she was with me tonight."
Luann's daughter, Tayler, attended the game. Tayler is a sophomore student at Duquesne. She played four seasons for Luann at Neshannock.
The Lady Lancers (7-0 section, 15-1 overall) got off to a slow start against the Lady Tigers (3-4, 5-9). The teams were knotted at 7 through one quarter. Ally Zarilla came off the bench to score 13 of her game-high 20 points in the second period.
"They were playing us zone in the first quarter," Luann said. "Zarilla went in in the second quarter and played well.
"We've been getting good production from her. I thought she shot the ball well and did some good things."
Zarilla's second-quarter production helped Neshannock take a 25-11 lead at the half.
Bella Burrelli followed with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Hannah Haswell contributed nine points and nine rebounds for the winners, while Aidan Noga netted eight points with eight assists and three steals.
Carmie Matarazzo produced eight rebounds and three steals to go along with her four tallies.
Neshannock was 21 of 65 from the field. The Lady Lancers turned the ball over a season-low seven times.
"I thought it was a good win for us. We played well defensively," Luann said.
Adrianna Harper paced Beaver Falls with 10 points.
Luann's coaching career got off to a slow start. She began her coaching journey at Shenango in 1980, finishing 3-17.
"It was early and I was young. I never coached anything, let alone basketball. I knew it would take a lot of work," Luann said of coaching. "I didn't know much about the game of basketball. I just said that record was terrible.
"I hated losing and I hated being 3-17. The kids made a commitment to me and worked hard. We were .500 I think the next year. Every year after that we got better. I made a commitment to myself and my kids that it (3-17) would never happen again. I knew I would have to start building an elementary program and that's where I started."
Luann is averaging 16.2 wins a season with just 7.6 losses a season, which translates into a playoff berth every year.
"The playoffs are always a goal," she said. "It's what you work for. Why play if you're not going to try to make the playoffs?
"In 37 years, I probably didn't make the playoffs seven years. It does take a lot of work and time. I was willing to do that."
Thursday's win has Luann and Neshannock closing in on another trip to the WPIAL playoffs.