It was a three-in-one day at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School. That's three-in-one as in Division I athletic scholarships.
Three BG seniors - basketball players Halee Adams and Kayla Bates and baseball player Jextin Pugh - signed national letters of intent Wednesday afternoon as admiring family, friends, teammates and school officials watched.
"This is a great day for Bishop Guilfoyle," said assistant principal/athletic director Mike Cacciotti, who was in charge of the program.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
(From left) BG’s Kayla Bates, Jextin Pugh and Halee Adams all received Division I scholarships this year.
Indeed, it was a great day for the school.
Adams, who will attend Siena College, and Bates, who will go to Mount St. Mary's, are the first BG girls basketball tandem to receive Division I scholarships in almost 30 years.
Chris O'Connor (East Carolina) and Diane Carey (St. Francis) earned DI scholarships in 1984 after leading the Lady Marauders to their first PIAA state championship.
"It's special," coach Mark Moschella said of Adams and Bates, who will be four-year starters at BG. "They've been close since they came in. This whole group has been close, and that's what makes it fun for me because they want to see each other succeed."
As freshmen, Adams and Bates helped the Lady Marauders win the PIAA Class A state title, they were runners-up two years ago and advanced to the second round of states last year.
Adams missed half of last season with a knee injury, but says she's 100 percent recovered and ready to go this season, and Moschella praised her work ethic.
"It's supposed to take six months [to recover from an ACL injury]," she said, "but you really don't get everything back for a year. I'm going on my 14th month so I'm ready. My knees feel great and I'm ready to play again."
"She's put in the rehab, and that was tough on her, although she never complained," Moschella said.
Adams, a 5-8 guard, considered Mount St. Marys, Quinnipiac and St. Francis (PA.) before giving a commitment to Siena.
"I chose Siena because I really wanted to go to a Catholic school, and the coaches there are determined to win," Adams said. "They're going to win, and I want to be part of that."
Adams, a 1,000-point scorer and the Altoona Mirror's Player-of-the-Year in 2011, said she's been recruited as a point guard-guard, even though she hasn't played a lot of point in high school.
"I've played it in AAU," she said. "If you're a basketball player, you can play any position they put you in."
Halee is the daughter of Gene and Lynn Adams of Hollidaysburg.
Bates said she also looked at Canisius, Eastern Illinois, Loyola (Md.) and St. Francis (N.Y.).
"I actually chose Mount St. Marys early because I felt really comfortable there," she said. "It's a beautiful campus, the coaches were extremely welcoming to me and they have what I want to major in [biology]."
At 5-7, Bates said she'll probably play the two-guard in college and some point guard as well.
"I'll probably be a one-two combo guard," said Bates, who was the Mirror's Player-of-the-Year last season.
Bates, who lives in Tyrone with her mother, Valerie, and father, Kevin, was coached by her father in her early basketball years and said, "he definitely made me the player I am."
Among her goals this season is to win another state championship.
"Ever since my freshman year, it's been a huge goal," she said.
"I think Kayla felt she had to do some extra things last year when Halee was out," Moschella said, "and, in some ways, it made Kayla a better player. She's worked hard on her defensive skills, as well as her offense, and I think that's put her at the level she's at now."
Pugh said he also considered Stony Brook before deciding on Binghamton because of its rural atmosphere and the reception he received from the coaches.
"The coaches are very outgoing and I definitely feel they want to help me get better," said Pugh, a 6-2, 230-pound slugger who pitches and plays first base. "They're going to let me play both [positions] and that's one of the main reasons I chose to go there."
Pugh, who plans to study psychology, is the son of Alan and Shannon Pugh and lives in Duncansville.
His long-range goals are to go to Omaha for the College World Series and eventually be drafted by a professional team.
"As a baseball player, at the high school level, he's the real deal," BG baseball coach Bill Wolf said of Pugh. "He's got the heart and desire to lead a team.
"Even as a 9th grader, he was a starter and pretty much led us to our first appearance in District 6 title game ever," Wolf said. "Now, we've been there two of the last three years.
"He makes the kids around him better because of his work ethic. He's got the arm strength and bat speed to play at the next level."