Experienced Sewickley Academy boys to spread offense around this season
With most of its players returning, the Sewickley Academy boys basketball team expects to be a serious contender for the WPIAL Class A title after finishing fifth in the WPIAL playoffs a year ago.
But a lack of height and a dominant player might make things a little more challenging for the Panthers.
Coach Win Palmer expects his team to be tested early. Sewickley Academy opens the season on Dec. 7 against host Ambridge in the Ambridge Holiday Classic. The Panthers' opening game in Section 2 will be Jan. 4 at home against Quigley.
“We do not have that one go-to player, which could either be a strength or a weakness,” Palmer said. “Early-season games will help determine how we score points late in the game. As always, we will play a demanding nonsection schedule, which will prepare us for the section season.
“Height will be a challenge as a number of teams in (Class) A have talented big men.”
Sewickley Academy suffered a huge loss when Carrington Motley graduated. Motley, who had more than 1,000 points in his career, averaged 20 points per game last season. He attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Junior Barret Fowkes, a 6-foot-5 forward, is the Panthers' tallest player. He averaged six rebounds a game last year.
Junior Keenan Hickton, a 6-1 guard, averaged 11 points per game and made 25 3-point shots.
Senior Jordan Milo, a 6-2 guard, sank 20 3-pointers.
Junior JP Bowell, a 5-10 point guard, averaged five assists and seven points per game.
Junior Ty Roberts, sophomore Anthony Muscato and seniors Firas Termanini and Davis Blaylock also earned playing time.
A 6-3 forward, Blaylock is Sewickley Academy's second tallest returning player.
Senior captain and starting forward John O'Malley likes that scoring probably will be more balanced this year.
“Any one of us can step up,” he said. “It's going to be fun.”
Sewickley Academy qualified for the WPIAL playoffs after finishing third in Section 2 with an 8-4 record a year ago.
The Panthers were bounced by eventual champion Lincoln Park in the WPIAL quarterfinals, 51-25.
By finishing fifth, Sewickley Academy advanced to the PIAA tournament, where it lost to District 9 champion Ridgway in the first round, 48-40.
Sewickley Academy is seeking its third WPIAL title in five years. The Panthers were WPIAL champions in 2009 and 2010.
They also won the WPIAL championship in 2004, when they were PIAA runner-up.
They were PIAA champions in 2010.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.