Pietrowski presence left a mark for Lady Cyclones and Presbyterian College

Published 12:13 am Thursday, February 27, 2020

    For nearly ten years the Lady Cyclones were the most talked about
girls team in East Tennessee, making five state tournament appearances
and winning a state title.
     Many girls came through the program that helped set up the 2014 team to win
a state title under the leadership of Coach Len Dugger whose last two coaching
teams went undefeated.
     He fielded a team of coaches including Eddie Carver, and former 1960 state
champ Richard Hyder from Hampton.
     He would talk with former great coaches like Bobby Chambers and
become the first girl’s coach to win a state title in Carter County.
     Dugger’s winning percentage would be an incredible .903 with 732 overall
     One of Elizabethton’s former basketball players went on to be one
of Presbyterian College’s best-ever players.
     At 6’2  Mariah Pietrowski led the Lady Cyclones to the State Tournament
where she made All-State her season.
     Pietrowski was two-time all-region and scored over 1000 points
as a Cyclone.  Not only was she good as basketball but she was a two-time
All-Conference selection in Volleyball.
     She was born in 1991 to Mike and Ruth Pietrowski and has two
sisters Michaela and Megan who also played basketball for the Cyclones. 
     “The best memory I have of Mariah was in the regional championship game her
senior year against South Greene.
     “I got the rebound and sprinted down the sideline. I could see Mariah running
down the middle of the court.
     “That was the fastest I’ve ever seen her run! I swear she only took four
strides to get from the other baseline,” said Chelsea Bowling.
     Pietrowski was on one of the early Len Dugger teams who started the
Lady Cyclones success stories.
     It would include winning many District, Regional, and Sub-State games and
go on to win a state title for the Elizabethton girls.
     It is the Cyclones only State Basketball title.
     “I never played with Mariah but one thing I remember always hearing
about was how powerful and a great post player that she was,” stated
Melenda Perry who played on the 2014 State Championship team.
   Pietrowski would attend college at Presbyterian in Clinton, South
     She started in all 28 games averaging over ten points a game
and was ranked second in shooting percentage with a .587 mark.
     She posted her first double-double against Winston Salem State scoring 23
points and pulling down eleven rebounds.
     She opened her career with a 14-point performance against Colgate and she was
named Player of the Week four times.
     In her sophomore season, she started in all 29-games and led the
team in scoring with 310 points.
     She scored nineteen points in several games and a season-high 22 against
     Pietrowski played an average of 26.6 minutes per game.  She finished third in
the Big South for field goals with a .517 average.
     Her junior season saw Pietrowski become Presbyterian’s all-time leading
scorer in a game against Alabama.
     She would also go on to be the division-leading rebounder.  She scored 26-points in her final
game as a junior against Charleston Southern.
     The senior season saw Pietrowski pace her team to 19 wins losing out in
Parker Center in Port Authur Texas.
    Pietrowski was a coach’s dream!
     She had an amazing work ethic and a determination to succeed in everything
she took on.
     “Mariah led us in scoring and rebounding for four years and led a transitioning
Division I program to 19 wins and a post-season appearance in our first season of
D-I eligibility,” said Coach Ronny Fisher.
     “My biggest problem on the court with Mariah was that she was
too unselfish.
     “She led the Big South in field goal percentage a couple of
years but still looked for her teammates first.
     “She was a servant-leader to her teammates and displayed a humbleness that is very rare in
this day and time.”
     Pietrowski excelled in the classroom as well. She took on the demands of a Biology
major at one of the top academic schools in the Southeast and finished near the top of her class.
     She was a true student-athlete and a tremendous example for the younger players.
     Fisher said, “Even today, Mariah is the “standard” I look for
when recruiting post players.  I am always comparing recruits and their
abilities to Mariah in hopes of landing another player like her.
     “I am very proud of Mariah and thankful that she chose to play for us.   She
will never know how valuable she was in building our program and she was
the type of young woman that makes coaching such a great profession.”
      Pietrowski has always been a hard worker in everything she does and
she certainly excelled in basketball as well as academics during high
school and college.
      She received the PC Female Student-Athlete of the Week award many times
during her four years at Presbyterian College. 
      She received Big South Conference Freshman of the Week Award four times
and was the first Division one athlete at Presbyterian College to
receive Big South Conference Freshman of the Year Award.
      She was named Second Team All-Big South Conference her Senior year (2012-2013). She
was on the Dean’s List multiple times and graduated in four years with
honors with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.
      She is now an RN and works full time at the Mountain Home VA Hospital in Johnson City.

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