Sports Connections Sue Panek

Sue Panek's basketball resume has included a series of firsts.

The daughter of Joe and Donna Panek of Lilly helped lead the Bishop Carroll girls team to its first-ever Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state basketball title in 1997.

Panek didn't play varsity basketball until she was a sophomore, but she rewrote the record books for the Huskies. She was the first underclassman to top the 1,000-point scoring plateau – before there was a 3-point shot, which came during her senior season. 

She was also the first Bishop Carroll girls player to be selected to the all-state team, earning the honors in 1987 and 1988.

As a senior at Bishop Carroll, she averaged 25.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

Panek attributed her high school success to her height.

"I was tall, 6-foot, which back then was considered to be tall," Panek said in a telephone interview. "I was also athletic and could play all the positions, which was what got me noticed by colleges. But I also worked hard on improving my basketball skills."

Former Huskies coach Deb Yesenosky said that in addition to the basketball skills that Panek possessed, she also had great self-confidence and was a team player.

"She was multi-talented and the best of the best," Yesenosky said. "She could take over a game at crunch time, but her teammates also had respect for her because they kept throwing her the ball. The biggest thing was how she treated other people."

Panek earned a full scholarship to the University of Maryland, where she was a four-year letter winner, helping the Terrapins advance to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including one berth in the Elite Eight and another to the Final Four. During Panek's senior season, Maryland held the No. 1 national ranking for four weeks.

The former Huskies standout graduated from Maryland in 1992 with a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology.

Panek started her coaching career under head coach Marynell Meadors at Florida State University in 1993. She remained with the Seminoles until 1996. 

Panek returned to Maryland as an assistant coach for one season. Then in 1997, Meadors took over the head coaching job with the WNBA's Charlotte Sting and brought Panek on board as an assistant.

She was on the coaching staff with the Washington Mystics (2005-06) and a member of the WNBA Atlanta Dream staff (2008-13).

In 2012, Panek was inducted into the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame. Then in 2015, she was part of the third class of the Bishop Carroll Athletic Hall of Fame.

She currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is a special education teacher at Olympic High School.

"In order to have success, you have to invest your time and energy," said Panek, who had just taken a leave of absence from teaching to recover from knee-replacement surgery.

Cory Isenberg is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5080.​ Follow her on Twitter @CoryIsenbergTD.