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Vincentian boys basketball team reflects on successful season

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Jay Cortese has a lot of upside for an ever evolving Royals squad.
Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Jamison Nee is a future star for the Vincentian boys basketball team.

There were not many teams that could withstand the furious play of the Vincentian boys basketball team this season. In fact, only one team had the answer for the Class A Section 2 and WPIAL champion Royals.

The Royals went 26-2, and both losses (83-81 in the regular season and 92-85 in the PIAA second round) came to Bishop Carroll.

Bishop Carroll sported a big forward, and his presence was one the Royals could not match up with.

“He played a wonderful game,” Vincentian coach George Yokitis said. “Bishop Carroll played only six kids, so I credit them with keeping up with us all game. They didn't get tired as we anticipated. They also made their free throws. They took advantage at the line — another credit to them.”

The Royals run a fast and furious attack, and Yokitis rotates in good players frequently. The result is a lot of points in transition, and with so few teams being able to match the fitness level and depth of the Royals, it is no surprise the team won 26 games.

Although the goal every year is the state title, Yokitis put the season in perspective for his players.

“We were one of eight teams between boys and girls in the entire WPIAL to win a championship,” Yokitis said. “Prior to the start of the year, we were picket to be the ninth- or 10th-best team in Single A.

“But anyone who knows us knows we believe in good, old-fashioned hard work, and our players love each other … That is a strong elixir, and I couldn't be prouder of our kids, the parents and our school.”

Being that Yokitis can't say when the last game of the year will be for his team, he quietly dreads it when the clock strikes 00:00 and the season is over. Not so much because there are no more games to be played, but because of the look in his players' eyes.

“It is so hard to let them go,” he said. “This group has won two WPIAL titles, two section titles, made the WPIAL semifinals last year and we have compiled the best record in that span.”

The little solace Yokitis does take comes from his belief these seniors will move forward and be better people thanks to their time together.

Guards Tony DiNardo, Sean Horgan and Matt Lang, centers Matt Rathz and Ryan McCann each put their mark on this team, but they leave passing the torch to a savvy crew of players including Kevin Fischer, Jim Kenna and Ryan Wolf.

“Wolf is great, Kevin is a great point guard and Jim was the star of the WPIAL championship. He has such a pretty shot,” Yokitis said. “We have players like Jay Cortese, who is our most athletic player and only scratched the surface of what he can do. Ian Taylor will be a force, Jack Monahan, Eric Fitzgerald, Ryan Battaglia and Jamison Nee (and others) will all help out.”

Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or jeclark@tribweb.com.

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