Dominant team effort puts OLSH men’s basketball in WPIAL record books

MOON TWP. — On a snowy Monday night in Coraopolis, the Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur basketball team made history.

In a non-conference game against Avonworth, OLSH took the floor, executed their game plan, and won — as they have in their last 52 contests. An 84-47 win over the Antelopes (11-4) puts the Chargers (12-0) in elite company, tying the 1963-65 Uniontown and 1983-85 Washington high school basketball teams for the longest WPIAL winning streak.

Most would have imagined that a grand celebration would take place for OLSH’s accomplishment. However, as the clock hit triple zeros, the two teams shook hands and headed to the locker room.

OLSH's Rocco Spadafora shoots past Avonworth's Jordan Kolenda in Monday's game at OLSH.

While important to WPIAL history, for the Chargers it was just another win.

“After the game, I didn’t even know we tied the record until Jake [DiMichele] told me,” junior Rocco Spadafora said. “It wasn’t talked about much, even in the locker room after the game.”

“We approach each game one by one,” said OLSH head coach Mike Rodriguez. “We prepare for every team, do the scouting reports for every team. We have great leadership. … I always tell my teams that player-led teams are much better than coach-led teams and that’s a great example.”

As has been the case many times throughout OLSH’s run, victory came in dominant fashion. Great defense and solid play in the forecourt put the Chargers up 21-9 late in the first quarter.

Faced with a formidable opponent from a higher ranking, OLSH’s starting lineup did not flinch, each delivering a notable effort.

Avonworth's Colin Crawford (5) tries to block a shot from OLSH's Jake DiMichele during Monday's game at OLSH.

Jake DiMichele led the way for the Chargers, scoring a game-high 31 points. High-scoring nights are nothing new for the senior, who is the reigning PIAA Class 2A Player of the Year. What’s new, however, is the emergence of his right-hand man this season, fellow senior Dawson Summers.

After playing an important but perhaps underappreciated role on last season’s state championship team, Summers has made his presence felt in 2022. The Chargers big man delivered the best performance of his career at the high school Monday night, finishing the game with a triple-double: 19 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks.

“I say it all the time, Dawson is a beast,” DiMichele said of his teammate. “The more people go out and see it, the more people’s eyes will pop.”

“Dawson is having a terrific year,” Rodriguez added. “He’s definitely one of the best big players in the area. He’s just an amazing player. He and Jake have just been driving our program so far.”

OLSH's Dawson Summers shoots past Avonworth's David Kujawinski during Monday's game at OLSH.

With DiMichele starting slow on the court, Summers served as a focal point for the Chargers at both ends of the court. Fueled by a rowdy student section of Avonworth, the Rochester native aimed to silence the visiting crowd as much as possible. He did it several times, the most notable coming from a dunk and one in the third quarter that put the entire Chargers bench on their feet.

“That might be the best dunk I’ve ever seen in this gym,” DiMichele said.

“I just wanted to do what I could to silence the crowd,” Summers said. “That dunk was probably my best bucket of the night. It felt really good to throw it.”

The third quarter highlights reel continued, but with a different player. As the final seconds ticked away, Spadafora delivered a burst of defensive intensity that left nearly the entire Angela Center in awe. With less than 30 seconds left in the quarter, Spadafora compiled three straight interceptions, each finishing for a bucket in transition.

The OLSH bench cheers after Rocco Spadafora (1) made his third straight lay-up after his third straight steal in Monday's game against Avonworth at OLSH.

“Honestly, I was just trying to keep our lead,” Spadafora said. “I wanted to keep the pressure on them. I just felt it. I don’t really know what happened. I had so much adrenaline in my body.”

While the WPIAL record discussion has had little existence in the OLSH locker room, the streak discussion can be completely put to bed Friday night.

The Chargers host South Side in Section 1-2A, where with a win they’ll move past the two programs they currently share the 52-game mark with and have the record all to themselves.

Contact Noah Hiles at nhiles@gannett.com. Follow him on twitter @_NoahHiles.

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