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Remembering when a WPIAL team was accused of "throwing" a match

Written by Mike White on .

So, badminton teams in the Olympics "threw" games. Huh. The same thing was accused of a WPIAL volleyball team in the 1990s.

First, the Olympics "badminton scandal." Four womens doubles teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia were kicked out of the competition this week after allegedly losing matches on purpose to secure a more favorable draw in the medal round.

It brough back memories of a WPIAL story 17 years ago when the czar of the WPIAL and a coach were alleging a volleyball team "threw" a match to gain a better spot in the PIAA playoffs.

In 1995, then WPIAL executive director Ace Heberling and Penn Hills volleyball coach Dan Brown accused Baldwin of intentionally losing to Penn Hills, 15-4, in the consolation match of the WPIAL playoffs. The one-game match decided third and fourth place in the WPIAL. Both teams would qualify for the PIAA playoffs, but the third-place team had to travel to Meadville to play in a four-team PIAA pool against WPIAL runner-up Derry and two top teams from the Erie area.

On the other hand, the fourth-place team from the WPIAL seemingly got a much better draw. It had to play at Robert Morris in a four-team pool against WPIAL champ North Allegheny, City League champ Carrick and Richland from District 6. This pool was considered much, much easier. Plus, two teams from each pool moved on to the PIAA quarterfinal round in Shippensburg.

Anyway, in the WPIAL consolation match against Penn Hills, Baldwin benched all but two of its starters. Back then, Baldwin coach Mike Scahill vehemently denied the charges that his team "threw" the game, and said he benched most of this starters because they had played so poorly in the semifinals earlier in the day. "Absolutely unbelievable," Scahill said of the charges.

Brown said at the time, "It was a very blatant blowing of the game on purpose."

Well, it turned out nothing could be done to Baldwin by the WPIAL or PIAA because as Heberling said, "We can't tell a coach who to play or where to play."

But Heberling added, "This flies against everything that competition is supposed to be about."

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