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Ligonier Valley boys basketball team boasts size, talent

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Ligonier Valley's Zach Yeskey (left) takes leaping shot at the hoop during practice as coach Mick Pompelia works the drill. Bill Pribisco I for the Tribune-Review
Top high school sports
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 8:45 p.m.

It's not so much the sheer size of Ligonier Valley's top five frontcourt players that is of concern to opponents. It's what that combined 32 feet, 7 inches can do.

There's an abundance of quality in that quantity.

The Rams boast three starters who stand at least 6-5 and two top reserves who are 6-7.

“Yeah, we feel very confident with all the height we have,” 6-5 senior so-captain Zach Yeskey said. “But we feel confident with all the athleticism we have, too. That's a big part of it. It's not just that we're big.”

Joining Yeskey in the starting frontcourt for Ligonier Valley are 6-7 junior Alec Bloom and 6-5 sophomore Jordan Jones.

“Those are three big guys who can all bring the ball down the court under pressure, handle the ball and shoot the outside shot,” second-year Rams coach John Berger said. “They're really versatile.

“Jones plays the ‘3,' Bloom the ‘4' and Yeskey's more of a ‘5.' But they have pretty much free reign to play. They can make it hard for opponents to get rebounds when they're crashing the boards.”

Off the bench, Ligonier Valley brings more size in 6-7 Micah Tennant and 6-7 Max Jabludovsky.

The Rams easily have the tallest team in the Heritage Conference and likely the biggest in all of District 6. There can't be many teams in the entire state to match Ligonier Valley when it comes to the fact the fifth-tallest player in its rotation is 6-5.

Yet with all that height, it might just be the shortest player on the court most nights who is the Rams' most valuable. Senior point guard Ty Ferlin stands only 5-6 — but the co-captain is the one entrusted with helping to distribute the ball to all the talented big men.

“Absolutely, he's our general out there on the floor,” Yeskey said. “It's important to have a guard who's the general directing guys. And he's a warrior.”

“He's the quarterback,” Berger said. “He makes things go.”

Ferlin might be the quarterback of Ligonier Valley's hoops team, but it was Scott Fennell who was the Rams' quarterback of the football team. A 6-1 junior guard, Fennell is the fifth starter in basketball, a player who can shoot 3-pointers and also score via penetration.

Senior Patrick Waugh and junior Alex Tutino are guards who contribute off the bench for a team that goes nine deep most nights with ease.

“I feel real good about this team this year,” said Yeskey, who was the team's leading scorer through the first two weeks of the regular season. “With all the guys we have, I know we're headed in the right direction.”

Ligonier Valley had a vastly improved record last season from the prior campaign, and it expects to make another leap forward this season.

“The Heritage Conference championship is what we're competing for,” Berger said. “There's never been one won by Ligonier Valley. We also want to make it further than the second round in the district playoffs... but first and foremost is the Heritage Conference. We want to win that for the first time.

“The only team that can beat us this year is ourselves... All we need to do is the little things like make our free throws, and keep growing as a team.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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