Hudak wins 1A coaching honor; Homan named first team
By Michael Boytim
A couple weeks ago, the area honored Portage girls basketball coach Lance Hudak for the job he did coaching his team through three players suffering season-ending injuries to a District 6 Class 1A title and an appearance in the PIAA semifinals for just the second time in school history.
Thursday, Hudak was recognized on a larger scale when he was named the Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ All-State Girls Basketball Team’s Class 1A Coach of the Year.
“What an honor,” Hudak said. “A couple weeks ago, I found out that the media and the coaches from this area recognized me as the Altoona Mirror Coach of the Year, and now to hear this for the entire state, I am numb. Complete credit goes to our girls. This team did amazing things this year with a lot of adversity. Being named a coach of the year at any level comes from team success, program success and I’m just so proud to lead the Portage Lady Mustangs.”
Hudak’s squad, which lost key players Lauren Shaffer, Maddy Hudak and Jenna Burkett to knee injuries early in the season, upset fellow eventual PIAA semifinalist Williamsburg in the District 6 title game and went on to win three state playoff games, including a win over Union in overtime in the quarterfinals. Hudak also led Portage to the PIAA semifinals in 2015.
“If you know the history of our program from when I took it over from 20 years ago, it was zero wins a year, then it was one win,” Hudak said. “It took nine years to get our first winning record. Since then, we’re winning at almost an 80 percent clip and contending for conference and district titles and now state titles. From where we were to where we are now, it’s so gratifying and makes me so proud of our school and our program.”
Several area players were also honored. Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s Leah Homan was selected to the first team in Class 1A one year after landing on the second team during the Lady Marauders’ state title run.
“We’re really proud of Leah for the amount of work, time and effort she puts in,” Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic coach Kristi Kaack said. “She puts countless hours in at the gym to be a better player for our team. She took a leadership role this year, and that was a lot of fun to watch for the younger kids. While we didn’t have as much success as we would have liked, Leah laid a strong foundation for our program moving forward.”
Homan averaged 23.4 points per game this season and was voted an Altoona Mirror first teamer.
“It’s a huge honor,” Homan said. “I have worked so hard, and to be on the first team with some of those other players is such a great honor. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to achieve this, and I want to thank my coaches and teammates for being able to put me in a position to be successful. I also want to thank my parents and my fans for continuing to push me to be great.”
Hollidaysburg’s Marin Miller also moved up from the third team to the second team in Class 5A.
“To be recognized on the all-state team is just another way the state has recognize her talent and all the effort that she put in throughout her high school career,” Hollidaysburg coach Deanna Jubeck said. “It’s extremely impressive, because when you look at the newspapers around the state, the majority of the all-star players were coming out of 5A. For Marin to be recognized in the top 10 of athletes in 5A is huge.”
Williamsburg’s Ayla Hileman landed on the second team in Class 1A. Her teammate, Jayla Woodruff, and Glendale’s Minyhah Easterling are on the third team in Class 1A.
“I’m very proud of both Ayla and Jayla for making the all-state teams. They really, in my opinion, had an awesome season. They really worked well together, and individually, they have really grown as players,” Williamsburg coach Amy Hileman said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what they bring to the court next season.”
Tyrone’s Jaida Parker was on the third team in Class 4A for the second year in a row, and Chestnut Ridge’s Belle Bosch and Forest Hills’ Remi Smith were on the third team in Class 3A.
Shade’s Jenna Muha made the first team in Class 1A, and Shanksville-Stonycreek’s Josie and Rylee Snyder both made the second team in Class 1A.
The boys PA Sports Writers All-State teams will be released individually by classification next week.