Kiski boys to rely on 3s, defense
Kiski Area boys basketball coach Harry Rideout spoke in hushed tones, a baby monitor nearby with his three newborn girls — identical triplets — sleeping at the other end.
"They've been in the hospital for a few weeks, and we just got them home," Rideout said. "My wife has me on the overnight shift. It's been nothing short of amazing."
Rideout can only hope good things continue arriving in threes. If the second-year coach is to build on last season's surprising success, his team will do so via the 3-pointer.
"We shoot the 3-ball a lot; we just don't shoot it quickly," Rideout said. "It always helps that eight of our nine guys are legitimate 3-ball shooters. We use a perimeter-based Princeton offense that uses lots of screens to help free up some guys."
The offense centers around senior shooting guard Zach Barker. A Valley News Dispatch first-team all-star, Barker averaged 13 points per game last season.
"Zach is going to be our focus because if you don't guard him, he's going to get you 30 (points)," Rideout said. "Unfortunately, the other coaches know that, so we're going to have to get scoring elsewhere, and we're going to do it by committee."
The Cavaliers return just one other starter in 6-foot-7 forward Charlie Toy, also an outstanding shooter despite his size.
Senior Eric Weyant takes over at point guard with junior guard Alex Lamendola and 6-2 forwards Trey Carter and Adam Robison chipping in.
Although Kiski is bigger this year, Rideout expects growing pains.
"Our half-court man (defense) is our bread and butter. But this group is younger, and it takes them awhile to understand it and build off it," Rideout said.
"We had a really good summer learning the game together, so everything is not brand new, but when you lose three seniors, you can't replace that overnight. We're inconsistent right now. We can play with anyone on any given night just as well as we can show up and have some issues any given night."
Last season, the 14th-seeded Cavaliers shocked No. 3 seed Central Catholic in first-round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs — the program's first postseason win in nearly a decade.
Rideout insists Kiski will remain committed to a disciplined, defense-first approach after surrendering just 48.7 points per game last season — third best in the league.
"It is absolutely much harder to maintain than it is to build, so the philosophy isn't going to change at all," Rideout said. "We will defend first, rebound second and then think about scoring."
And much like his family at home, Rideout hopes his team's fortunes multiply in what he sees as a wide-open Section 1-AAAA.
"This is a different group, so our approach is going to be varied," Rideout said. "Work ethic is hard to coach, and you can't make kids something they're not. At Kiski, we have a group that understands that. They're willing to work, and they're growing."