A local basketball team returns to Meadville High School Wednesday when the South Fayette boys play Mercyhurst Prep with the winner securing a place in Saturday's PIAA Class AA championship game.
It's been a few years since I've covered a game at Meadville, but it's a place I won't soon forget.
The Washington girls played Girard in a PIAA Class AA first round game there back in 2004, the fourth time in four years the Prexies and Yellow Jackets met in the state tournament. (Girard won all four meetings.)
Washington's Vanessa Davison, a two-time O-R Player of the Year, hit a high-arching runner that was waved off after she was called for a charge with 5:55 remaining in a one-point game.
That's when Prexies coach Jim Tidball lost it.
Here's an excerpt from my game story:
Tidball, Washington's head coach, was whistled for a technical foul midway through the third quarter but Prexies assistant Michael Maltony managed to restrain him before things got worse. After the Davison charge, which came with Wash High trailing the Yellow Jackets 30-29 things got ugly.
The normally reserved Tidball slammed his hand on the court in frustration, resulting in his second technical foul. Tidball promptly jumped out of his chair and stormed toward the Prexies' locker room. He turned back, offered a few more words for the officials, then waved to the Girard student section before ripping off his tie and leaving the court.
Tidball's technical led to four Girard points and the Yellow Jackets held on for a 48-42 victory Friday night at Meadville High School.
Girard (23-5) has eliminated the Prexies (22-6) from the last four PIAA playoffs.
"The first thing I want to do is apologize for costing my team an opportunity to win the game," said Tidball. "But there was no doubt in my mind that we got cheated."
Girard failed to win the District 10 title for the first time in nine years yet got to play a first-round game only 38 miles from home. If that wasn't bad enough for the Washington following, the calls didn't help much either. Every Prexies starter was plagued with foul trouble. They were whistled for 12 in the first half and 11 in the second. Girard never reached double figures in foul calls.
"The officiating stunk. We did not get a call all night," Tidball said.