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Thomas Jefferson boys' team set to open 2012-13 season in Bethel Park tourney

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson's varsity basketball team opens its 2012-13 season this Friday and Saturday in the Bethel Park tip-off tournament.

“We had a good spring and summer, so we hope to build off that and start out strong,” Dom DeCicco, Thomas Jefferson's veteran head coach, said. “I think for the first time since I have been coach at TJ we have nine or 10 guys who can contribute at the varsity level.”

A key component of this year's team is expected to be its overall quickness.

“Our strengths are playing fast and smart,” DeCicco said. “We want to play fast, but limit turnovers. That's a lot easier said than done. A lot of times when you play fast, you make dumb decisions. If we want to compete in (Class) AAA this year, decision-making in crucial situations is the key.”

The Jaguars' floor boss expects another season-long tussle in Section 4-AAA this year.

Keystone Oaks won the section title with a 12-0 slate, followed by Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin at 9-3. Elizabeth Forward (5-7), South Park (5-7), East Allegheny (1-11) and Belle Vernon (1-11) rounded out the standings.

This year, Ringgold and Steel Valley have replaced Keystone Oaks and South Park, who have switched to Section 5-AAA.

Thomas Jefferson, after starting the 2011-12 season with five straight losses, ended up 10-13 overall. The Jaguars advanced to the WPIAL playoffs, where they lost to Beaver in the first round, 57-47.

DeCicco provided a quick glance into this year's section competition.

“Well, West Mifflin is always good,” he said. “I think Elizabeth Forward will be improved, as will Belle Vernon and East Allegheney.

“We played Steel Valley in the fall, and they are really athletic. They have a 6-foot-8 kid who is going to be good. I don't know much about Ringgold.”

The Rams competed in Section 5-AAA last year and finished 5-17 overall.

Steel Valley, a Section 3-AA member in 2011-12, ended up 9-9 overall a year ago.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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