Belle Vernon Area boys feature another young team
Second-year Belle Vernon Area boys' basketball coach Eric James finds himself and his team in a unique position this season.
A year ago, the Leps were very young as James at times had a freshman, two sophomores, and a pair of juniors in his starting lineup.
The results were predictable as BVA struggled through a 3-19 campaign, losing the first 14 games of the season before recording James' first victory.
The Leps, howver, did manage to win two of their final four games of the campaign.
This year, the Leps are even younger with as many freshmen (three) on the varsity and junior varsity teams as he has seniors.
“There is no doubt that we are young, but we return four starters that gained valuable experience last season,” James said, referring to senior guard Ryan Thomas, senior forward Jesse Kallam, junior guard Jason Capco, and junior forward Jake Sweitzer.
“We will work hard and continue to get better.”
A fifth starter and last year's leading scorer as a freshman, Travis Snyder (just under 11 points per game) is out for the year after having ACL surgery as a result of a football injury.
“We know what we have in Trav when he is on the court,” James said. “But the guys also realize this gives others a chance to step up and get the job done.”
This is the fourth straight year a BVA starter has been lost for the season following a surgery.
A pair of juniors, guard Cody Menges and forward Aaron McCullough, are the only other Leps who have varsity experience and will contribute.
“Depending on which lineup we go with Cody and Saw will be in there a lot,” James said. “We also have other guys that will provide depth.”
Among them could be senior guard Tyler King, junior guard Joe Bondi, and several sophomores.
Last season, the Leopards struggled from the season's opening tip-off, winning only once in their first 18 games before winning two of their last four games. The wins came against Albert Gallatin and Mt. Pleasant.
The Leps will again compete in Section 4 AAA, which has undergone some changes with Ringgold and Steel Valley being added to the seven-team section.
BVA will be thrown right into the fire with three tough games in the opening five days of the season before heading into section play.
The Leps play Hempfield Friday, Jeannette Saturday, and Uniontown Tuesday.