California Area's Pergola Attains Coaching Milestone

By Wald, Bruce | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 6, 2008 | Go to article overview
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California Area's Pergola Attains Coaching Milestone


Wald, Bruce, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


While Phil Pergola will point to his 38 years as a scholastic boys basketball head coach as being more significant than any career victory total, his 500 all-time victories are a testament to the veteran coach's success as well as his remarkable longevity.

Pergola, who is in fourth season as the head boys basketball coach at California Area High School, where he also serves as that district's athletic director, earned his 500th career victory on Dec. 18 in the Trojans' one-sided 82-39 victory over West Greene High School in the WPIAL Class A Section 2 opener for both teams.

The 61-year-old Pergola began his head coaching career at the former Mon Valley Catholic High School, where he won 92 games from 1970-77. He then coached Charleroi High School's basketball team from 1977 through 1986 and won 120 games in nine seasons.

Mon Valley Catholic's 1971-72 and 1972-73 teams compiled season records of 17-8 and 17-6 respectively. Pergola coached the 1983-84 Charleroi team to a 24-5 final overall record and the 1979-80 Cougars went 18-8.

His third and longest coaching tenure was at Ringgold High School, where Pergola guided the Rams for 18 seasons from 1986-87 through 2003-04.

He won 233 games at Ringgold, including the historic 1995 PIAA Class AAAA championship.

After losing a narrow WPIAL semifinal game to McKeesport in 1995, Ringgold rolled to five straight state tournament wins, including a tense double-overtime win over Erie Cathedral Prep in the Western Region Semifinals. Ringgold became the first-ever WPIAL to win the Class AAAA state crown since the PIAA moved to four classifications with a 71-66 victory over Williamsport. The only other WPIAL team to win the Class AAAA state title in boys basketball heading into 2008 was Penn Hills in 2004.

Pergola's 1989-90 Rams compiled a 29-3 overall record, and won the WPIAL Class AAAA title before losing in overtime by two points in the PIAA finals. Ringgold's 1993-94 team went 22-6 overall and advanced to the Western Region semifinals before losing by two points. The longtime educator also retired from a 36-year teaching career after the 2003-04 academic year.

The 500th career win was Pergola's 55th at California.

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