Dunmorean of the Month: Kayleigh Semion


kayleighBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School graduate Kayleigh Semion could have played Division II or III college basketball just about wherever she wanted, but her dream was to go to Penn State.

When she enrolled at Penn State she thought her basketball career could be over, but it wasn’t. Now the 2015 Times-Tribune Player of Year is really living her dream.

She is a key member of the Penn State University women’s club basketball team.

And while it is not Division I varsity level, this team plays a brand of highly competitive basketball with six to eight tournaments throughout the year. The team practices at least two hours three nights per week.

Daughter of Sherry Nicolais and step-daughter of Mark Nicolais, Kayleigh, 20, is a sophomore Kinesiology major with aspirations to eventually become a physical therapist.

An All Regional and second team All State point guard at Dunmore in her senior season, she had opportunities to play division II or III college basketball, but her dream was to attend Penn State.

Then the opportunity came to tryout for the club basketball team. The tryout was competitive and intense, but Kayleigh, a sophomore at Penn State, made the roster. Now she gets to attend Penn State and play basketball.

With over 1,200 career points at Dunmore, she quickly became a key member of the club basketball team. She averaged 14.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game in her senior season at Dunmore and is playing that same type of game for the Penn State club team. She averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 assists mostly coming off the bench for the club team this season.

She helped her Penn State club team place in third place in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association Championship tournament last month at Ohio State University. Her team beat Virginia Tech, Ohio University and the University of Connecticut, but lost to Air Force. She came off the bench to score 13 points against Virginia Tech.

Kayleigh was named to the All-Tournament team following the Regional Championship Tournament at Boston University earlier this year. Her Penn State club team won that tournament.

“It is very competitive basketball,” she said. ” It is on the level of division II or III college basketball. We practice hard and get to go away to games. We get to practice all the time. The games are highly competitive. The players love to compete. It is a terrific experience. And it is great representing Penn State.”

Breana Toro, former Lackawanna League all-star from Abington Heights, is a member of her club team.

Two of the girls on the club team were promoted to the Penn State varsity roster after injuries to players last season. Most of the girls on the club team attend the varsity games.

And Kayleigh is even a manager for the Penn a State varsity team.

“I will do anything I can to stay in the game,” she said. “I love basketball.”

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.8 grade point average at Penn State. She takes a lot of what Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien instilled in her. “He taught me about work ethic . He is really into what he does as a coach. He really helped me as a basketball player.”

Kayleigh also ran track at Dunmore and was a twirler.

She and her two sisters Brittany and Meredith learned twirling from her mom, a prominent twirling instructor in Dunmore.

“My mom always teaches me to go after whatever I want in life 110 percent at a time. She tells me to go after it full speed.”

Personable and full of life, Kayleigh knows she is living her dream at Penn State. “I love it here,” she said. “I always dreamed of going here. I look around and here I am. I love the atmosphere here. And I still get to play basketball.”

Kayleigh said she likes listening to music in her spare time. She would like to see Ed Sheeran in concert.

And while she continues to do what she loves at her dream college, Kayleigh thinks of her future. “I want to get into a physical therapy school after graduation. It is highly competitive, but I want to become a physical therapist.”

And competition seems to be something Kayleigh Semion thrives on.


DHS Graduate Receives National Basketball Awards at Binghamton

Athlete of the Month - John RinaldiBy Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School graduate John Rinaldi has made the most of his academic-athletic career at Binghamton University where he will graduate this May with a bachelor of science degree in marketing/finance.

And to cap it all off he recently received word that he is the first Binghamton University basketball player chosen for the NCAA National Honor Society and be named to the American East All Academic team.

“It was an honor to hear about all this,” he said, “because my parents always made me work hard at school. They were always on top of me about my grades. It shows that hard work really does pay off.”

Son of Mark and Annie Rinaldi, Dunmore, John is a 2013 Dunmore High School graduate. He played four years of football and basketball at Dunmore. He earned All League status in both sports as a junior and senior. He was a 1,000 points plus career scorer in basketball and was a key member of two district title football teams.

He also played one year of baseball and was a member of the track team for two years. He set records for the high jump and long jump and also participated in the triple jump. He earned a district title for the high jump twice. He was All League twice and All Regional once for track and field.

The scholar-athlete has an impressive 3.6 grade point average at Binghamton University where he is a member of the student advisory committee and four-year member of the basketball team.

Tony Lacertosa was his basketball coach at Dunmore High School. “I played several positions for him,” Rinaldi said. “We learned how to win from him. We had a successful team.”

Like hundreds of other student-athletes, Rinaldi learned many life lessons from Dunmore veteran football coach Jack Henzes. “He is a legend there. Everything you hear about him is true. You have to experience it. We won two district championships under him. He teaches you life lessons and how to be a better person. I experienced it first hand from him.”

Rinaldi said his parents are always strong influences in his life. “They always tell me to work hard in school and in sports. They tell me to play hard and get good grades. They are sticklers for good grades.”

The senior stalwart talked about what it takes to be successful in college basketball. “It’s all about playing hard all the time and taking nothing for granted.”

The dean’s list student said he has enjoyed his four years at Binghamton University. “I like the school environment here and I’m very happy with my college choice. It’s been an amazing four years and it flew by really fast. The basketball experience here has been great.

“It’s going to be a little weird when this is all over. I am going to miss college. I am hoping to get a good job and possibly go to graduate school in the future. It’s been great here.”

Athlete of the Month: Abby Sempa

athlete-of-the-month-abby-sempaBy Steve Svetovich

Abby Sempa is only a sophomore on the Holy Cross Lady Crusaders basketball team, but she fit in right away with her teammates.

And that is because she cares more about being a teammate than anything else.

Daughter of Fran and Mary Sempa, the sophomore starting shooting guard averages 8.3 points per game and adds an additional offensive threat to the team and the league’s leading scorer, teammate senior Abby Anderson. She was 50-61 from the free-throw line (82%) and made 27 three-point goals and a total of 58 field goals.

Abby, a two-year member of the Lady Crusaders, helped her team to a 15-5 record despite a 45-44 loss to Mid Valley in the first round of district playoffs.

The sophomore stalwart scored 10 points in the tough loss.

Abby, 16, is also a member of the cross country team at Holy Cross. She was a second-team all-star as a freshman cross country runner.

sempaA scholar-athlete, Abby has an impressive 3.8 academic average. Her best subject is math. She will be joining the environmental club this month.

Abby talked about what it takes to be a successful shooting guard. “You need a lot of focus and situational awareness. And be ready for the ball all the time.”

She talked about the success of the team during the regular season. “It’s all about teamwork and being close to each other as a team,” she said. “No one is selfish. We work as a team. We work hard. We cheer each other on. We are always there for each other on and off the court.”

Abby said she learned a lot from Holy Cross girls’ basketball coach Barry Fitzgerald. “He taught me how to play better defense and how to play in tough situations.”

And she has learned plenty from her parents. “My parents taught me how to be a better person, how to be respectful and about sportsmanship.”

Abby has a couple older sisters to look up to. Mary Grace played basketball and is a 2011 Holy Cross graduate. Eileen played basketball and is a 2007 Bishop Hannan graduate.

Abby talked about her future goals. “I want to try to excel on the basketball court and play for my teammates. I want to keep up on my grades and academic subjects. I want to go to a good college.”

The talented guard said she likes listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Maroon 5 in concert.

Abby has totally enjoyed her experience at Holy Cross thus far. “It has been a very good experience,” she said. “I like it here a lot, but sports has played a big part of it. I really enjoy keeping up on my grades too. The entire Catholic experience has been a major part of it for me.”

Crusaders Win Intraborough Boys Basketball Champion Game



The Intraborough Boys Basketball Champion Game between the Dunmore Bucks and the Holy Cross Crusaders was recently held at Holy Cross High School. The event, sponsored by the Dunmore Lions Club to help defray the cost of their College Scholarships Programs, is well over 30 years old.

This year, the Holy Cross Boys defeated the Dunmore Boys by a score of 51-39.

Holy Cross players shown in the first row from left are: Joe Liuzzo, Anthony Fletcher, John Egan, Caleb Callejas, Carl Schuster, Kieran Burrier, Patrick Galvin, Matt Nelson and Jeremy Fick.

Shown in the second row, same order: Assistant. coaches Tim Callejas, Mike Zayac, Rich Larussa, and Rob Heyen; Players Jake Rasimovich, Justin Walker, Leahy O’Connor, Tom Montefour, Angelo Calciano, Nick Ferraro, Declan Tokash, Jake Wiercinski, Tyler Mozeleski, Malachi Phillips, Brendan Willsch, and Joe Degrazia; Coach Al Callejas, Lion Anthony DeSantis, Lion president Jim Aita, Lions Rich Green and Angelo Martarano.


Dunmore High School players and Lions Club members are pictured, first row, from left: Nate Fangio, Steve Borgia, Colin Holmes, and Michael Dougherty.

Second row, same order: Assistant Coach Mark Finan; Players Nick Maldonato, Chris Murray, Cory Lawless, John Mandarano, Rich Grippi, Jerry Longo, Conor Walsh, Tom Dougherty, Daniel Walsh; Coach Tony Lacertoso, Lion President Jim Aita, and club members Anthony DeSantis, Rich Green, and Angelo Martarano.