New Castle News

June 20, 2014

High School Basketball: Ovial resigns as coach of Ellwood

Joe Sager
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Ellwood City Lincoln High lost a star player when Nick Aloi transferred to Lincoln Park.

Now, the Wolverines are in need of a head coach, too.

Anthony Ovial submitted his resignation Wednesday to Ellwood City principal Kirk Lape. He had a 7-37 record in two years.

“It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as the boys basketball coach for the Ellwood City School District for the past two years. I am so proud of the young men who have made it a pleasure to coach them on a daily basis. Their work ethic and commitment to the program has made it a true joy to lead the basketball program,” Ovial wrote in an email to The News.

“Additionally, the support shown by the student-athletes, parents, high school administration, athletic department and community members with and without a vested interest in the basketball program has been overwhelming in recent months. However, personal professional obligations that have changed within the past few months, and, in my opinion, a continued lack of support for high school administration and athletic department members leads me to this conclusion.

“It is my belief that with my resignation, key members within the athletic department and high school administration will be relieved of unfair scrutiny from elected school officials. Again, I appreciate the opportunity afforded me to coach the young men in the basketball program and I wish them the best of luck going forward.”

A 2002 Lincoln High graduate and former Wolverines standout, Ovial went on to play college basketball at La Roche College. He served as an assistant coach at the Community College of Beaver County and an eighth grade and junior varsity coach with Ellwood City before earning his first head coaching job at New Brighton in 2011-12. The Lions went 6-15 in that season.

When Al Campman stepped down from his second tenure as Wolverines’ head coach in 2012, Ovial was named head coach. Ellwood City went 0-12 in WPIAL Section 2-AAA play and 3-19 overall in 2012-13. The squad went 1-11 in the section and 4-18 this past season.

In February, a vote to terminate Ovial’s contract was added to the Ellwood school board’s agenda, but following an impassioned show of support from more than 20 parents, residents and youth basketball players, the board removed the vote from the agenda after an executive session.

Ellwood City principal Kirk Lape lauded Ovial, especially for his work in establishing a youth basketball program in the school district.

“I just appreciate everything Anthony did during his time there. He’s an Ellwood City guy and I think he did a great job these past two years in moving the program forward,” he said. “Whoever we find out there to fill the job is going to have a lot of things in order, as far as an elementary program. He had over 100 elementary kids participating in it. He just finished up an elementary camp. He had a feeder program started. Whoever walks into the position has a good base to work with.”

The Wolverines played this season without Aloi, who averaged 17.3 points per game during his freshman season in 2012-13. He sustained a left knee injury playing AAU basketball in May, 2013, and sat out the 2013-14 campaign. Considered one of the WPIAL’s top young players, Aloi is back playing summer basketball now.  

Aloi will not return to Ellwood City, though. He transferred to Lincoln Park on Jan. 21. He may have to wait to play basketball for the Leopards, the WPIAL and PIAA Class A champions. At an April 23 hearing, the WPIAL ruled Aloi transferred to Lincoln Park in part for athletic intent and declared him ineligible for one calendar year from the date of that hearing.

However, PIAA bylaws state that the one-year ineligibility period starts on the day of the transfer. So Aloi is eligible to compete for Lincoln Park on Jan. 21, 2015. That means he can appear in five section games, any nonsection games after that date and all of the Leopards’ postseason contests. For the 2014-15 school year, Lincoln Park moves up to Class AA and into Section 1 with Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverside, Shenango and Summit Academy. Aloi’s first section game is slated to take place when Mohawk visits Lincoln Park on Friday, Jan. 23.

There is a chance Aloi could appear in a Leopards uniform much sooner, though. Lincoln Park has appealed the WPIAL’s ruling to the PIAA and a hearing is scheduled for July 23 at PIAA headquarters in Mechanicsburg, according to Lape. The PIAA could either uphold or overturn Aloi’s eligibility ruling.