Experience, deep roster have Mars optimistic of playoff run
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On the heels of consecutive 18-win seasons and without a player graduating from the school's first boys basketball PIAA tournament team, Mars carries something this season it has at few times in program history: championship expectations.
The Planets began the season ranked, and they did little to temper people's opinions with victories in seven of their first eight games.
To hear Mars coach Rob Carmody tell it, however, no one is expecting more from the Planets than Planets themselves.
“It's nice when the expectations for success are from the kids,” Carmody said. “It's not from the coaching staff, not from other students in the school and not even from the newspapers. The kids have high expectations for themselves. But best of all, they know the only way to meet them is to continue to work hard.”
Mars' only defeats through nine games were at Hampton and against Holmes, Ky., at the Rock Holiday Classic tournament in Orlando, Fla. Those teams are a combined 24-0, with Hampton considered one of WPIAL Class AAAA's best and Holmes a Kentucky powerhouse.
On the Planets' resume are victories against reigning PIAA finalist Montour (7-0 in all other games), Class AAAA's Seneca Valley (6-1 against everyone else) and Windermere Prep, Fla., and North Laurel, Ky.
“I'm obviously very pleased with how we've played after we really tried to play a challenging schedule prior to the meat of the section schedule,” Carmody said. “So far it's paid off.”
More than Carmody could have expected. The Planets played large portions of the first month without two of their top players. The wins, mostly, kept coming. More importantly, depth was cultivated when players deeper in the rotation were thrust into more prominent roles.
“It's nice to get guys minutes,” Carmody said. “You see how they respond, and you know how they'll help you down the road.”
Mars is deep enough that it boasts five players who are averaging double-digits in points: seniors Garrett Ashbaugh, Zach May, Matt Getsy, Mitchell Buzard and Josh Goetz. That doesn't include junior guard Owen Nearhoof, the team's leading scorer last season who hasn't played a full game yet this season because of injury. Injury has likewise limited senior guard Alex Locher.
“Everyone's been contributing,” said Ashbaugh, in his third season as Mars' point guard. “We don't have to worry that if this person or that person's not scoring we can't win. We have the depth, so we can score regardless. On any given night, anybody can score 20 points.”
Experience helps. Buzard joins Ashbaugh as three-year starters. Getsy is a two-year starter, and May and Goetz also had logged plenty of career minutes heading into this season.
The emergence of the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Goetz has given another dimension to a Planets' team that primarily has relied on guard play.
“We really haven't had a big kid like him (since 2000),” Carmody said. “He's just such a physical presence, and he runs the floor.”
Senior guard Ben Erdahl, senior forward Adam Bayuk and junior guard Ethan Lewis add even more depth.
“We're one of the closest basketball teams that I've ever seen,” Ashbaugh said. “On the court and off the court. That's going to help us down the road.”
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.