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Girls basketball: Longtime Catholic coach Scagnelli dies at CAMC

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The winningest girls high school basketball coach in Kanawha Valley history died Thursday.

Former Charleston Catholic High Coach Frank Scagnelli, Jr. was in Charleston Area Medical Center's General Division when he passed.

"He had been in the hospital since he had a stroke two weeks ago," longtime assistant coach and friend B.J. Calabrese said.

Scagnelli was 70 years old.

He was vice principal when the Irish girls coach  stepped down in August of 1979 and agreed to take over for one season.

His team finished 22-4 and won the Class A state championship that season, the first of 13 state tournament appearances under his leadership.

After 25 seasons as the girls basketball coach at Charleston Catholic and 10 as the Irish boys coach prior to that, Scagnelli stepped down unexpectedly in July of 2004 at age 61.

"I was thinking about it when school was out and we started summer workouts," he said at the time. "I'll miss the kids but for my health and psyche it was just time."

In his final season he led a young Irish squad featuring future West Virginia Player of the Year Mackenzie Maier to an 18-6 record and unexpected trip to the state tournament.

"I thought last year was the best coaching job we'd done," Scagnelli said when he announced his retirement. "I put in a lot of good years and if I am going to go out I am going to go out on top."

Scagnelli was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2001 and was hospitalized for a short time after his blood sugar level rose to about 800.

Since 2006 he had served as head and assistant coach for the Sissonville Middle School girls basketball team alongside his son, Tony.

He left Charleston Catholic with the second highest win total ever for a girls high school coach in West Virginia with 413 victories against 178 losses. He had a combined 524 wins in girls and boys basketball.

His squads experienced only two losing seasons.

One of his former players, Ashley Shepler, took over for Scagnelli and led Catholic to its second title in 2007 with Maier a senior.

Last year Calabrese took Capital's girls team to the state tournament in his fifth season as the Cougars' head coach.

Another former player, Lynn Bria, went on to be head coach at Ohio University and is in her sixth season as head coach at Stetson University, where she has led the Hatters to three consecutive postseason appearances.

Besides teaching calculus and trigonometry, Scagnelli held a number of different positions at Charleston Catholic.

He was an assistant coach for the football team and for legendary boys basketball Coach Joe Cielensky. There were also stints as head coach for the baseball, golf and boys basketball teams, in addition to his service as athletic director and vice principal.

 


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