Sewickley coach knows all about Monessen
Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer says he doesn't believe in leaving any stones unturned when it comes to learning about an upcoming opponent.
And in less than 24 hours after drawing Monessen in the first round WPIAL Class A playoffs, Palmer sounds like a historian on the Greyhounds and coach Joe Salvino.
“I respect the heck out of what JoJo has done with that program and how he goes about doing things,” Palmer said. “He does it the right way. He pushes his kids. He plays up. And they have some great, great players there. They just keep turning them out.”
Palmer said that he thinks there are plenty of similarities in the Greyhounds (9-13) and Panthers (8-12).
“Both teams have coaches who have over 500 wins in their careers, which makes this game pretty interesting. And we are the only Class A school teams who have won multiple WPIAL titles since the 2000s, which is also interesting.”
While Monessen has three titles (two in Class A and one in AA) in that time, S.A. Also has three (2004, ‘09 and ‘10). S.A. also won the state title in Class A in 2010.
He looks at the two teams' records and is quick to say, “I can confidently say that no teams in Class A have played the kind of schedules we have. Monessen has played a lot of big schools, and so have we. Like JoJo, my philosophy is that you get better by playing better competition. That's the only way to do it.”
When told he knows a lot about Monessen, Palmer laughed and said, “And I guarantee you they will know all about us. That's how it works.”
Another similarity in the teams is that both have deep rosters. While the Greyhounds routinely run eight players in and out of the game, Palmer says his team uses nine players.
“Eight of our nine players have been our leading scorer in a game at least twice,” he said. “We don't have a player averaging in double figures, but we have seven players averaging between 7.5 and 9.5 points per game. I think that's pretty unique.”
Sewickley's top players include four seniors, Jordan Milo, Termanini Firas, John O'Malley and Davis Blaylock. Blaylock (6-3) is one of the team's top scorers.
Other players who play key roles for S.A. include Keenan Hickton, Baret Fowkes (6-5), J.P. Bowell, Anthony Muscato and Ty Roberts.
“Whoever scores most for us depends on how the other team plays us,” Palmer said. “Some of our guys are better perimeter shooters, some are better slashers and some are better inside. It all depends what opens up for us.”
Palmer, who came to Sewickley Academy 12 years ago after a stellar coaching career in Virginia near Washington, D.C., where his teams won four state titles, is impressed with what he has seen of Monessen on tape.
“They are a tremendous rebounding team and are very athletic,” he said. “They get a hand on the ball a lot and are aggressive defensively. I really love No. 3 (Clintell Gillaspie).”
Palmer says the key for his team beating Monessen is simple.
“We have to rebound and take care of the ball,” he said emphatically. “If we don't do that, it will be a long night for us.”
PREGAME NOTES: Sewickley Academy played Monessen one other time in 2002 with Sewickley winning, but the two have never met in the playoffs ... Friday's game tips off at 8 p.m. with Riverside meeting Springdale in a Class AA girls game at 6:30 p.m. yet another similarity between the teams is neither has played well as of late. While Monessen has lost four of its last six games, Sewickley Academy is riding a three-game losing streak. S.A. lost 63-57 to Fort Cherry (4-18) in its last game.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.