Jeannette boys not getting caught up in rankings with rival matchup looming
When the high school basketball rankings appear, Julian Batts says he's not watching. He's busy going to school, practicing his game and being a kid.
He's just a sophomore, after all.
And he's the coach's son.
“I don't try to pay attention to the rankings,” said the 6-foot-1 point guard, who is the second-leading scorer for Jeannette.
As he speaks, Batts intently watches the practice floor in the other direction, where his dad, Adrian Batts, observes the remainder of the team's players go through a shooting drill.
“Whatever the rankings may say,” Julian Batts continued, “I'm not going to put down my team. I think we're the best team in the WPIAL and the state.”
A bold prediction, but perhaps not far off. At 17-2, Jeannette is ranked No. 3 in WPIAL Class AA by Trib Total Media and third in the state by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.
Only one of those losses have come against a team from Pennsylvania, and Jeannette gets a chance to redeem itself Friday against that team, when the Jayhawks visit No. 1 Greensburg Central Catholic (19-1) for a chance to share the Section 3-AA title.
GCC (11-0) leads Jeannette (10-1) by a game heading into the section finale. The Centurions earned a 65-61 victory over the Jayhawks on Jan. 15 at Jeannette.
“You certainly can't ask for much more when these teams play each other,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Greg Bisignani said.
“The players on both teams have a lot of respect for each other.”
Like his son's claim, Adrian Batts doesn't get caught up with the rankings, though he's proud of Jeannette's season heading into Friday's game.
“Whoever loses, it's not the end of the season for either one of us,” he said. “We're both going to the WPIAL playoffs, and we both will have a chance to win four games there.”
Jeannette concludes its regular season with a tough turnaround game Saturday afternoon against South Fayette at the Pittsburgh Basketball Legends Classic at Sto-Rox.
The Jayhawks are led by senior guard Duke Brown, who entered the week averaging 19.5 points. Julian Batts was averaging 15.9 and senior guard Jordan Edmunds 11.0.
In the state rankings, only Class AA features more than one WPIAL team prominently. Section 2 leader Beaver Falls (18-3, 13-0) is ranked No. 1, followed by No. 2 GCC and No. 3 Jeannette. There are no other local teams in the top 10.
“It should be a compliment to the teams in Double-A to be able to show the state that Pittsburgh can play some basketball, too,” Julian Batts said. “We can play it around here as well as anyone can.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.