Sewickley Academy boys looking to put December losses to good use
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Sewickley Academy boys basketball coach Win Palmer said before the season he doesn't put much stock in December results.
The Panthers exited the month with a 2-6 record, but Palmer hopes the difficult nonsection schedule he put together will benefit the team in the long run.
“Ultimately, our goal is to compete for championships,” Palmer said in early December. “We're firm believers that in order to win championships you've got to play good folks and see different styles so that once you get to the playoffs you've seen just about every look, every aspect of the game.”
Sewickley Academy closed out the month with an appearance in the Bulldog Bash tournament in Westfield, Va.
After playing three games in three days against teams from the Washington D.C. area, the Panthers returned home with three losses.
The Panthers opened the tournament with a game Dec. 27 against host school Westfield (Va.), which plays in the top classification in the Virginia High School League. Sophomore Anthony Muscato scored 12 points and junior Ty Roberts added 10, but the Panthers came out on the losing end of a 62-41 final.
The next night, Sewickley Academy played independent school Flint Hill. The Panthers trailed, 18-2, after one quarter but battled back to cut their deficit to two points at halftime. Ultimately, though seniors John O'Malley and Jordan Milo scored 18 and 14 points, the Panthers couldn't find enough offense in a 67-43 loss.
The Panthers closed out the tournament with a game Dec. 29 against Centreville. In the team's most competitive game of the weekend, junior Keenan Hickton led all scorers with 13 points, but Sewickley Academy came out on the short end of a 43-35 final.
Though Sewickley Academy closed the weekend with three losses, the five players scoring in double figures showcased what Palmer said is a team strength this season: its versatility. Carrington Motley provided the bulk of offense last year with 17.1 points per game before graduating, but Palmer believed the offense would be more balanced this time around.
While Sewickley Academy doesn't have the dominant scorer it had last campaign, a number of players are stepping up offensively.
“We like having a lot more of the balance that we're going to have this year,” Palmer said in early December.
Sewickley Academy will open section play Friday against Quigley.
With 11 of 13 games remaining against Class A opponents — Sewickley Academy is 2-0 against such competition this season —Palmer hopes the difficult early schedule will pay dividends in the long run. In addition to the difficult competition last weekend, the Panthers played Ambridge and Knoch from WPIAL's Class AAA and Serra Catholic from Class AA.
That helps explain the 2-6 record, even if Palmer isn't paying attention to it.
“I think back to all the championship teams (we've had) over the many years and can think of many December losses that helped us win playoff games in February and March,” Palmer said. “Because guys were willing to step up and make plays. They needed those December games to learn that. ...
“I can never recall what our won-loss record is after the month of December. It's really meaningless. To me, what matters is, ‘Did that prepare us, did that make us better so that we're ready for section play?' Because in the WPIAL, that's all that matters.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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