Obstacles face Clairton basketball teams
New Clairton basketball coaches Matt Geletko and Charles Shealey have odds to overcome before their seasons even start.
Both are taking over talented teams, but neither walked into ideal situations.
Clairton's boys basketball team, as usual, will start the season late because all five of its starters are members of the Bears football team that will play in the PIAA Class A title game Friday in Hershey.
“But I knew this was going to happen when I took the job,” said Geletko, a longtime assistant coach at Serra Catholic under Bob Rozanski.
Clairton's starting five arguably consists of the Bears' five best football players. Tyler Boyd, Titus Howard, Terrish Webb, Bryon Clifford and Armani Ford are expected to start, although the full lineup won't be on display until January because of Boyd's national football all-star game commitments and Howard's recovery from an elbow injury.
So how does Geletko have his team prepared?
“The good thing is that we still have 12 guys in practice every day right now, and we've got some kids who are going to help,” said Geletko, who especially is pleased with youngster Rasheed Pacely, a talented forward.
“We'll go 10 or 12 deep when we have everyone. The football players have been in this position before, so they know how to handle this.”
Clairton's season won't begin until Dec. 21.
“I really think this team can be a real contender,” Geletko said. “There's an awful lot of talent here.”
Shealey is an pro at bad timing.
A star at Schenley High School in the 1970s who later became the all-time leading scoring at Delaware State, Shealey received an NBA tryout in 1980. It was with the Los Angeles Lakers, who had just drafted a guard named Magic Johnson.
“Too many Hall of Famers,” Shealey said with a laugh. “Just didn't work out.”
Through a couple of weeks of practices, Shealey finds himself without enough players.
Two of his starters, Taleese Ogletree and Justice Hall, are out with injuries sustained in a scrimmage last week. Both senior forwards are expected to be significant contributors, and while they should return, Shealey isn't sure when.
“We sure would like to get them back,” Shealey said. “But the good thing is this team has six seniors, so that will help get us through.”
Shealey is a positive person, and he hopes his personality is going to rub off on his team.
Expect the Lady Bears to play with passion.
“That's the kind of basketball I like to coach, and that's what I think you're going to see,” Shealey said. “When I played, I was a pretty low-key guy. But when I coach, I really think that a lot of enthusiasm comes out of me. I want that to show in these girls. We just want to play a high-intensity style of basketball.”
Like the Clairton boys, the girls team will begin play Dec. 21.
“We have a lot of talent on this team,” Shealey said. “The girls have responded pretty well to me, and I think it's going to go well. I can't wait for the season to start.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.