The Pittsburgh Post Gazette came out with their WPIAL boys basketball previews last week and I would like to discuss them. What do you think?
These players should lead their teams to successful seasons this year...
• Eric Kindler, 6-5 jr. wing, Trinity — Has the complete package, can score inside and outside, averaged 17.9 points per game and hit 61 3-pointers a season ago. Is beginning to draw more Division I attention. Ability to handle the ball is underrated.
• Jake Zeigler, 5-11, sr. guard, Mechanicsburg — If this guy is on your team, you are never out of a game. Should be nicknamed Captain Clutch for all of his late game heroics a season ago. Handles pressure, but must stay out of foul trouble.
• D.J. Rowe, 6-3, sr. guard Cedar Cliff — Addition of PG Tyler Hall will help Rowe focus more on scoring and shooting than anything else. Like Zeigler, when he is on the floor, the team is always alive. When hot, is the best shooter in the area, hands down. When he’s not? He’s still top two or three.
• Corey Henneghan, 6-1, sr. guard, Carlisle — Can pull up from anywhere on the court and exploded onto the scene early last season. Is the Herd’s top shooter and should have enough beside him to score more than his 13 a game last season.
• Robbie Bleiler, 6-1, sr. guard, Northern — Averaged nearly 16 points per game last season. Who will step up to compliment him without Rhett Sheibley in the lineup this season?
Trinity always produces solid basketball players which is why they are consistently one of the best teams in the state year in and year out. I always like their matchup against Steel High
Yeah they are a team you can count on to be competitive. A year older, they should be right there and the game against Steel High should be classic. Steel High should be good again this year. Unfortunately for them though they're getting on the court late thanks to football, if another team wants to make a run at the division crown, it needs to make the move early when the Rollers are adjusting. Another point of interest is that Steel-High needs to find a shooter to replace Lance Chisholm who was a very nice shooter for them. They are returning Jeff Davis and Jordan Hill though which should help them a lot.
Another good game will be against Susquehanna Township. Township is loaded as it returns the best back court in the division with Ben Dupree and Tajh Turner, also center Akeem Wilson, Greg Edwards and Jordan Epps all return giving the Tribe balance, scoring, and every piece needed to win. Trinitys size will be a major plus against Susquehanna, but Larry Kostelac will need some of his younger players to develop to provide depth. Should be interesting.
Some teams that might surprise us this year are Red Land, Bishop McDevitt, West Perry and Greencastle. I know some of these seem a little crazy but I really think they’ll be better than people expect and here is why…
Red Land. Despite the fact that Marshall is out and likely will not play at all this season and Chad Christen is also out, a critical blow, but Scott Slayton’s team has a shooter in Nick Liddell, and size in the way of Stephen Zack and Mike Zangari. These players will all need to step up early and continue to improve throughout the season. Zangari is a freshman who may need to make an immediate impact.
Bishop McDevitt. New head coach Jeff Hoke has to break in some youth on his team and it could be a struggle early, but this team should gel and play really well in the second half of the season. Teraje Grajkowski, a 6’5 post player adds great size to the team and if 6’4 Salath Williams returns from a football injury that will give them good matchups. The Crusaders also have freshman Jauquan Johnson who Hoke is really high on and sharpshooter Ryan Corrigan who will be among the top 3-point shooters in the conference.
West Perry. Okay I know this one is sort of crazy, but hear me out. Mike Urich’s team returns three players they can build around plus they add 6’5 senior Ed Kent to go with 6’6 junior Jade Wilson. They are in a division where they can make a move and compete with what they have to work with. They need to find someone to step up and fill Zach Rice’s shoes, who scored 10.1 per game last season.
Greencastle. Jarrick Gembe leads the junior class and they will have to get through the first month without Jason Koons which could be difficult. They have a lot of shooters to replace from last season, but given that the players who are moving up have been in a winning program, the sense is they will find a way to win it again.
Keep this in mind too, the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders drop down to 3-AA for the playoffs. What other 3-AA team will have five players 63 or taller and a shooter like Corrigan? Playing in a predominately 4A division and dropping to a 2A bracket means the Crusaders should be ready to rock come March.
Seems like out west it is hard to win when it comes to state championships when it comes to all the talent around Philadelphia. Some of the programs who are powerhouses but struggled for about 4-5 years like Blackhawk and Susquehanna seem to be on the rise again in central pa which is good for competition. I remember Susqeunahhas last decent team was in 02 when they had a talented guard who ended up at Hampton.