Gateway hoops teams confident heading into season
The Gateway boys basketball team will take to the court without the graduated Tyler Scott and Barnett Harris while the girls team will begin its post-Destiny Brown era.
Both teams and their coaches expect to pick up where they left off last season and prove their worth amongst the WPIAL's best with a couple of important early section games.
Boys coach Mitch Adams saw his Gators top Blackhawk, 48-45, in its season opener on Friday. Seniors D.J. Boyce (16 points) and Deon Baker (12 points) carried the offensive load, while a surprise output from freshman Aiden Howard (seven points) gave Adams a glimmer of what could be a lethal offense in time.
“They were searching themselves and finding out who their go-to (teammate) is,” Adams said. “Everybody just has to mesh into their roles right now, and I think we were forcing a lot of balls, so it'll take time.”
The Gators will be tested when they meet Section 2 foe Penn Hills on Friday. Adams expects similar contributions from the players who performed against Blackhawk as well as help from Memphis transfer Jordan Lanfair and two-year starter and team leader Tommy Kromka.
“If we do what we're supposed to do, which is predicated on defensive end, we'll be all right,” he said. “Penn Hills will have athletes … they always have athletes and always will. It'll be interesting to see how our kids respond, I'm confident in my kids' ability.”
The Gators will unveil their 2012 championship banner duruing the showdown with Penn Hills.
Gateway girls coach Cornelious Nesbit will field a team that is without the graduated Brown and her 24.1 points per game average last year when the Gators meet Penn Hills on Friday.
Nesbit said he expects significant contributions from Chelsea Richardson — who averaged 10 points per game last year — and Maria Taylor.
“Things are going to be a lot different this year obviously without Destiny, but I think we're capable of getting into the playoffs and making a deeper run than last year,” Nesbit said. “I think Chelsea and Maria will have to play their types of games and not try to do too much.”
Nesbit said Richardson scored 20 points in several games last year, so the offensive fire power is there.
Taylor is double-double capable and while the Richardson-Nesbit combination might not replace Brown's presence, Nesbit said he expects the Gators will still be able to average close to 50 points per game as a team.
The Gators section-opener Friday will be a good test to see if they can not only fill voids that were lost from last year's team but also keep a sound mindset in a game that they are expected to win.
“We aren't taking anything for granted,” Nesbit said. “We don't look at their record from last year because we think they'll be a lot better.
“They'll come in here and give us a good basketball game.”
Brian Graham is a freelance writer. for Trib Total Media.