Latrobe boys basketball team getting better with age
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A senior-heavy team that has had its rotation largely remain the same over the past two seasons, Latrobe's players know each other on and off the court.
When it comes to Latrobe boys basketball, these Wildcats see each other as equals.
“When I say this, I mean it: In eight games, we probably have had four or five different people be the leading scorer once or twice each,” coach Brad Wetzel said. “We don't have one go-to guy; we do everything by committee.
“What's nice to see is just how positive the energy is. Everybody seems to be on board and working their tails off, and right now we have a team with no stars — just a group of hardworking kids who are getting better.”
The early results show it for Latrobe, which is coming off its first non-playoff season in six years. The Wildcats have won four of their past five games to improve to 5-3 heading into a game Wednesday against Altoona.
“We had a team last year that was kind of thrown to the wolves, so we looked at last year's team as an almost two-year season,” Wetzel said. “A whole crop of juniors with ... (little) experience, so we knew we'd have some trying moments. But I thought they knuckled down and learned a lot last year, and we carried that gradual improvement over to this year.
“We're trying to peak at the right time — hopefully that's somewhere toward the end of January.”
No fewer than five seniors are part of Latrobe's rotation: 6-foot point guard Ben Havrilla, 6-6 swingman Mike Soforic, 6-2 guard Blake Reeping and forwards 6-3 Will Wears and 6-2 Matt Dunlap.
Reeping has been a varsity contributor since his sophomore season, Soforic has grown — literally — into being the Wildcats' leading scorer, and Havrilla serves as team captain. Wetzel calls Wears “as good a rebounder as I've seen in 10 years coaching basketball” and equates Dunlap into being a proverbial coach on the floor.
Among underclassmen key contributors, 6-foot sophomore guard Matt Cullen has the explosiveness and scoring ability “to develop into a tremendous high school basketball player,” Wetzel said.
Sophomore Chad Kissell and freshman Sean Graytok are guards who come off the bench and provide quality minutes.
“We do have chemistry; we don't have any selfishness and we don't have any problems,” Wetzel said.
“Everybody has a role,” Wears said. “Some nights, it's someone's role to score a lot and everyone else has something else to do. If someone's hot, we have to not be selfish and get him the ball if it's their night. The next night, it could be someone else. That's all part of maturity and playing together as a team.”
Less than a year removed from an 8-14 season, Latrobe won't provide explicit goals for the season. But it's clear the Wildcats are thinking bigger.
“It's a cliche, but we just want to get better every day, to be better than we were last year and maximize our potential and get more out of ourselves,” Wears said. “I don't think we have any goals set in stone like make the playoffs or win a certain amount of games — that all comes when you reach your potential as a team.
“I think we definitely could make some noise in the WPIAL playoffs, but the main goal is to be as good as we possibly can. That's what coach Wetzel would say.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High school notebook: Attendance up at WPIAL basketball title games
- Is Monessen basketball ready for another golden run?
- Play-in games provides welcome opportunity for WPIAL hoop teams
- Previewing the PIAA boys basketball playoffs
- PIAA basketball playoff capsules
- Led by 1st-year coach, Elizabeth Forward girls set for return to PIAAs
- Double the fun for Redbank Valley basketball teams
- Trib Cup: Carlynton girls basketball team continues ‘return to glory’
- Previewing the PIAA girls basketball tournament
- Monessen-Jeannette: Who gets the gold?
- Gorman: PIAAs a good time to roll ‘Dice