If the Waynesburg boys' basketball team plays anything like their new coach used to play, then Waynesburg will be scoring at a higher rate this season.
Last night, Waynesburg hired Drew Schifino, a former star guard at Penn Hills and one of the most prolific scorers in the history of WPIAL basketball.
Schifino had been looking to land a job in the WPIAL for a number of months and his goal was reached last night.
"I am definitely excited and looking forward to coaching," Schifino said.
Schifino will have a tall task in turning around Waynesburg. The team is 19-47 the past three years and has not won a section game in that time.
But hiring Schifino brings back some memories of a terrific player. After Penn Hills, Schifino played at West Virginia University and was one of the Big East Conference's leading scorers in 2002-03, averaging 20.1 points a game. He was averaging 17.6 the following season when he was dismissed from the team by coach John Beilein.
He went on to play some at California, Pa. He then played in the CBA for the Pittsburgh Xplosion before playing overseas.
If you have followed WPIAL basketball for the past few decades, you might remember Schifino as a great scorer. In fact, no player in the history of WPIAL basketball has scored in the playoffs like Schifino did in 2000 while leading Penn Hills to the third WPIAL title in school history.
It was an unforgettable run by Schifino, a 6-foot-3 guard who scored scored 147 points (36.8 average) in four playoff games. The 147 points is still a WPIAL tournament record today, although Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell came close to breaking it a few years ago when he scored 144. Schifino is still the eighth-leading scorer in WPIAL history with 2,318 points.
To be blunt, Schifino wasn't shy to shoot. He never saw a shot he didn't like and he might laugh at that these days (he now lives in Penn Hills). But he was an excellent slasher to the basket, terrific in the open court and he was a good enough shooter from 3-point range that defenders couldn't lay off him.
Schifino led the WPIAL in scoring as a junior at 27.1 points a game and was second as a senior at 28.9 (Shaler's Yuri Demetris, who went on to play at Pitt, led with a 26.6 average).
In Schifino's senior season, he scored 35, 33, 40 and 39 points in four playoff games. His scoring binge started in the WPIAL first round against Kiski Area when he scored 35 points. Then in the quarterfinals against Peters Township on a Friday night at Robert Morris, Schifino took 35 shots. But he scored 35 points as Penn Hills knocked off the No. 1 seed, 60-56. Schifino finished 12 of 35 but scored eight points in the final minute to bring the Indians back from a three-point deficit.
Then Schifino scored 40 points in a 69-63 semifinal victory against Uniontown. That is still the second-most points ever scored in a WPIAL AAAA playoff game.
In the championship, Penn Hills faced an upstart Butler team at Palumbo Center. Schifino took only 24 shots, made 13 and made 13 of 16 from the free-throw line. His 39 points is still the most ever scored in an AAAA title game. He also had 10 rebounds in the game and Penn Hills won, 73-63. (Schifino is pictured shooting against Butler's Josh Kearns).
"We petitioned the WPIAL to let us play with seven players instead of five because we watched Schifino just dribble through all five players against Uniontown [in the semifinals]," said Butler coach Gene Rodgers on that March afternoon. "But the WPIAL didn't let us."
In the semifinals and final, Schifino was a combined 32 of 52 from the field. He smashed the previous playoff record for points of 127, set by Sto-Rox's Monty Latimer in 1995.
The memorable postseason run by Penn Hills and Schifino ended in the PIAA semifinals with a 75-62 loss to Uniontown at Palumbo. But Schifino left an everlasting mark on WPIAL playoff basketball.
After the WPIAL championship game, Penn Hills coach Jim Rocco said it best: