The husband and wife coaching tandem of Rachel and Tanner Prosser talk before one of Tanner's Berlin Brothersvalley boys basketball games earlier this season. Rachel is holding the couple's son, Pace, who is nearly a year old. While Tanner is the boys coach, Rachel is the head girls coach at the school.

Not surprisingly, basketball often is a focal point of many conversations in the Prosser household, especially during playoff time.

Tanner Prosser coaches the District 5 Class AA champion Berlin Brothersvalley boys basketball team.

Rachel Prosser leads the District 5-A champion Berlin girls basketball squad.

In fact, the husband-wife combination has been part of two straight boys-girls district title-winning seasons at Berlin Brothersvalley.

“It’s exciting. It’s a special group of kids,” Tanner Prosser said. “They put a lot of time in during the offseason. They are willing to sacrifice. Unselfish kids. The community rallies and supports the team. We’ve been very fortunate in Berlin, the last six or seven years, to be successful in all sports.”

The Berlin boys (20-4) will play District 6 third-place Bishop McCort Catholic (16-9) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center in the first round of the PIAA Tournament.

The Berlin girls (23-2) will play District 7 fourth-place Quigley Catholic (15-9) at 4:30 p.m., also at Pitt-Johnstown.

“We put a lot of time in so it’s nice for the kids who put a lot of time in to reap the benefits of success,” Rachel Prosser said. “My coaching staff has been with me a lot of years. Our program wouldn’t be what it is without the staff. The community and family members really support us. That makes it easier and a of fun.”

The Prossers have been married 13 years. Tanner and Rachel met at Grove City College, where both played four years on the men’s and women’s basketball teams, respectively.

Tanner scored 1,263 points and had 801 rebounds and 361 assists at Grove City, where he was part of a Presidents Athletic Conference championship team his junior season.

Rachel scored 369 career points and had 267 rebounds, 168 assists and 129 steals. She also batted .276 on the softball team.

Since settling into the community in Berlin, the Prossers have three children, with son Pace playing sixth-grade basketball. Daughters Coral and Bryn are in elementary school.

“We talk about basketball. He helps me a lot,” Rachel Prosser said. “We don’t sit down for dinner too often. We do talk basketball a lot. It’s what we’ve always known. We’ve always played and coached. Now our kids are playing.”

When asked about conversation at the dinner table, Tanner Prosser chuckled.

“Dinner table is usually a piece of pizza at the concession stand,” he said. “Once in a while we talk about different things. 

“She has a good understanding of her team. We both are very fortunate to have great assistant coaches. With our schedules, over the summer, our staffs have been outstanding.”

Saturday PIAA Tournament games involving area teams include:


Class AA

• District 5-2 Conemaugh Township (14-9) vs. District 7-3 Chartiers-Houston (19-6), at Pitt-Johnstown, 3 p.m.: Conemaugh Township battled Berlin in the 5-AA title game and remained in contention until the final quarter.

The Indians are led by junior Jordan Poznanski, who averages 22.5 points a game. Three other juniors are among the statistical leaders with Ethan Leasure averaging 7.5 points and 2.6 assists a game; Cory Myers adding 6.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game; and Devin Foster netting 5.6 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds a game.

Chartiers-Houston is led by Cameron Hanley’s 21.7 points a game. The Buccaneers reached the District 7 semifinals for the first time in program history before falling to defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Sewickley Academy 65-33.

District 5-1 Berlin Brothersvalley (20-4) vs. District 6-3 Bishop McCort (16-9), at Pitt-Johnstown, 6 p.m.: Berlin brings a 12-game winning streak into the state playoffs. 

Senior Nick Gooden averages 19.5 points a game and had a blue-collar effort in the 5-AA title game, returning in the second half after suffering a shoulder injury earlier in the game.

Freshman Will Spochart (8.8 points a game), Cannon Hay (8.5 points a game), Nate Thomas (8.5 points a game) and Luke Brick (7.1 points a game) also account for the bulk of the scoring.

Bishop McCort Catholic bounced back from a 6-AA semifinal loss to Purchase Line by defeating Homer-Center 62-57 in the consolation game.

Senior Matt Petrosky is a presence inside with 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Junior Ben Seidel averages 10.5 points and 3.4 assists a game. Bobby Semelsberger (9.3 points a game), Luke Conahan (8.0 points a game) and Jerod Diamond (6.9 points a game) also are among the top scorers.

Class AAA

• District 6-1 Ligonier Valley (21-4) vs. District 3-4 Lancaster Mennonite (17-9), at Greater Johnstown High School, 4 p.m.

Ligonier Valley enters the postseason on the strength of a 16 game winning streak. The Rams won the Heritage Conference title game over Purchase Line, and defeated top-seeded Richland in the District 6-AAA title game last week as a part of that streak. 

Todd Hepner’s squad is led by 6-6 junior forward, Marrek Paola, as he is averaging 24.4 points and 13.6 rebounds a game.  The junior forward went over the 1,000 point career scoring mark earlier this season. Michael Marinchak, a 5-10 sophomore guard is second on the team in scoring with 18.6 points a contest, and leads the Rams in assists (5.3) and steals (3.3). 

The Rams get senior leadership from Andrew Plesckovitch (10.1 points a game) and Jackson Daugherty (6.8 points a game). 

Lancaster Mennonite has big game experience, as it advanced to the state quarterfinal round last season before bowing out to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti. The Blazers are led by 5-10 senior Carter Hurst (13.2 points a game) and fellow senior, 6-1 John Gillespie (12.8 points a game). Lancaster Mennonite enters the state playoffs having lost four of its last five games. 

• District 6-2 Richland (21-4) vs. District 7-3 Aliquippa (17-7), at Greater Johnstown High School, 5:30 p.m.

 Richland owns a 42-10 record over the past two seasons with primarily the same starting five in all of those games. The Rams are hoping that experience will bode well when state-power Aliquippa comes to town. Richland has the luxury of all five starters being threats to lead the team in scoring on a given night.  A 6-3 senior, Tyler Zimmerman paces the Rams with 16.3 points a game.   Following behind him is junior forward, Collin Instone, who averages 13.4 points a game and leads the team in rebounding (7.3 a game). 

Also capable offensive threats are seniors Trevy Hardison (9.7 points a game) and Tyler Paul (8.2 points a game). Sophomore Caleb Burke averages 9 points a game, while leading the team with 6.1 assists per contest. 

Aliquippa led eventual District 7-AAA champion Lincoln Park 46-35 heading into the fourth quarter in the semifinals, but a late run propelled the Leopards past the Quips.  Aliquippa is coached by former Pitt-Johnstown star, Dwight Hines. The Quips are led by 6-3 junior Will Gipson.  

• District 6-3 Central Cambria (14-11) vs. District 7-2 Seton LaSalle (19-6), at Peters Township High School, 4 p.m.

 Central Cambria will look to use last year’s run to the state quarterfinals as experience for this season. The Red Devils are paced by Pitt-Johnstown recruit, Matt Holsinger.  The 6-6 senior leads the team in scoring (21.8), rebounding (13.8), and blocked shots (3.3). Head coach Adam Stephan also relies on senior point guard, Luke Bennett (16.3 points a game). 

Fellow seniors Alex Persio and Justin Bezek provide experience for the Red Devils. 

Seton LaSalle is led by a pair of 6-3 seniors in George Mike IV and Jakob Richardson.  The Rebels hung with Lincoln Park last week in the District 7-AAA title game at the Petersen Events Center, but lost 62-47 to the Leopards. 


Class A

• District 6-2 Bishop Carroll Catholic (22-2) vs. District 5-2 Shanksville-Stonycreek (17-8), at Forest Hills High School, 4 p.m.

Bishop Carroll Catholic lost 48-42 to Juniata Valley in the 6-A title game featuring two teams that made deep playoff runs last season and faced each other in the state semifinal. The Huskies will try to rebound behind the lead of senior guard Alyssa Martinazzi, a playmaker on offense and defense.

Bishop Carroll had won 16 straight games entering the district title contest. Martinazzi had 17 points against Juniata Valley, including five 3-pointers. Anna Haigh scored 12 points, and Emily Kutskel had 10 in the 6-A game.

Shanksville-Stonycreek had a solid game against Berlin Brothersvalley before falling 52-36 in the 5-A title game. The Vikings have won four of their past six games.

Junior guard Sidney Stutzman leads the team with 13.1 points and 5.8 assists a game. She also averages 6.8 rebounds. Juniors Lexi Wilt (11.8 points a game) and Kara Platt (10.4 points a game) also score in double digits. Sophomore Hannah Platt pulls down 7.9 rebounds a game.

• District 5-1 Berlin Brothersvalley (23-2) vs. District 7-4 Quigley Catholic (15-9), at Pitt-Johnstown, 4:30 p.m.

 Berlin Brothersvalley sophomore Kiera Booth averages 16.8 points a game and is coming off a 13-point, 10-rebound performance in the 5-A title win over Shanksville.

Sophomore Zoie Smith scores 15.3 points a game, and sophomore Alexis Yanosky averages 14 points a game. The Mountaineers have won 20 of their past 21 games.

Quigley Catholic is coming off a 66-59 loss to West Greene in the District 7 semifinals. Quigley is led by Taylor Kirschner, who averaged 20.6 points a game, and freshman Hailey Drutarosky, who scores 15.6 a night.  

• District 6-3 Portage (16-9) vs. District 10-1 Kennedy Catholic (18-5), at Sharon High School, 5:30 p.m.

After losing to Bishop Carroll in the 6-A semifinal round, Portage bounced back with a 65-24 victory over St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in the consolation game.

Junior Taylor Glass scored 34 points in the win over St. Joseph’s and sophomore Abbi Riskus had 16 points, including four 3-pointers. The Mustangs defense also was effective, holding St. Joseph’s without a second-half field goal until 5:06 remained in the game, and that was the lone field goal in the final two quarters.

Kennedy Catholic defeated Farrell 62-49 in the District 10 title game, the program’s eighth straight championship. The Golden Eagles have won four in a row and 12 of the past 13 games. 

The Golden Eagles are led by sophomore Malia Magestro (21.3 points a game), senior Sophia Berardi (9.4 points a game) and senior Caitlyn Figuly (8.9 points a game).

In the District 10 title game, Magestro scored 32 points as the program won its 24th overall title.


Class AAAA

• District 6-1 Forest Hills (20-5) vs. District 7-3 Central Valley (17-6), at Central Cambria High School, 4 p.m.

Forest Hills halted a two-game skid with a dominant 39-15 victory over Bedford in the district title game. The Rangers shrugged off the effects of a 15-day layoff and claimed the program’s fourth consecutive District 6 crown.

The Rangers’ defense held Bedford to 13 percent shooting from the field.

Forest Hills’ balanced offense relies on contributions from junior Carly Stigers (11 points a game), senior Kourtney Walls (10.7), senior Abbey Swanson (7.0), senior Cassi Smith (6.6) and junior Kayla Stohon (6.3). Junior Victoria Koeck averages 7.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.

Central Valley lost 58-39 to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the District 7 semifinals. Central Valley posted district playoff wins over Keystone Oaks (62-46) and Deer Lakes (51-42). 

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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