Section 1-AA wide open in boys basketball at halfway point
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Asked about the state of competition in Section 1-AA boys basketball at the halfway point of the schedule, almost every one of the member teams' coaches gave the same assessment.
Anyone can beat anybody on any given night, or some slight variation has become the refrain throughout the section, which is unique among the WPIAL as the only one that has both a leader with a section loss and a last-place team with a section win.
“It's great to be 4-1, but wow, these are going to be a tough five games coming up,” said Deer Lakes coach Jon McKay, whose Lancers (9-5 overall) sit atop the standings. “All five of those teams (Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Ford City, Summit Academy, West Shamokin) scare me.”
Until about a week ago, the section's playoff picture appeared fairly straightforward. Burrell (9-4, 3-2) was unbeaten in the section, with all three wins coming by at least 17 points. Apollo-Ridge (11-3, 3-2) had just one loss, 55-33, which came at Burrell. And Deer Lakes, yet to meet Burrell, owned an 87-69 loss at Apollo-Ridge.
West Shamokin (7-6, 2-3) initiated the wild week by beating Burrell, 74-69, in overtime at home Friday. On Tuesday night, Ford City (4-10, 1-4) surprised Apollo-Ridge, 51-48, at home in overtime, and Deer Lakes topped host Burrell, 48-44.
“Really, it's the mentally strong team that's going to get the wins, because you go through so many highs and lows,” Burrell coach Rob Niederberger said. “I think we got a little too high on ourselves.”
Burrell remains imposing with its core of 6-foot-plus forwards, opposing coaches agree. Apollo-Ridge still features an explosive, guard-oriented attack that averaged more than 70 points earlier this season..
“They've all pretty much caught on to us,” said Apollo-Ridge coach Matt Gourley, whose Vikings have increasingly seen zone defense and have consequently scored 55 points or fewer in their last three contests. “We've got to get better in our half-court offense.”
But Deer Lakes, with its eight seniors, has found role players who've stepped up to complement standout scorer Tim Jaczesko (23.4 points per game) and put the Lancers in position for a section title.
“You could tell they were ticked off every time they read” season previews praising Burrell and Apollo-Ridge, McKay said. “We didn't talk about it. We just used it as motivation.”
West Shamokin's formula for success mirrors Deer Lakes, with Anthony Rocco (19 points per game) leading the offense.
“If Anthony is the only guy on that night, it's going to be very difficult to beat a good team,” West Shamokin coach Mike Nagy said.
Ford City's underclassmen-heavy lineup has shifted to a more deliberate half-court approach. And Summit Academy (4-9, 2-3) represents a wild card due to the ever-changing nature of its roster.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @BWest_Trib.
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.