Share This Page

Apollo-Ridge boys basketball to be 'more physical' this season

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 10:12 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Apollo-Ridge basketball player Duane Brown looks for an opening during practice on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.

What a memorable season it was for the 2012-13 Apollo-Ridge boys basketball team.

The Vikings finished 18-9, won three WPIAL playoff games and made the WPIAL Class AA semifinals for the first time since 1988 with a stunning 53-49 victory against Jeannette in a game that will be talked about for many years.

What does the Apollo-Ridge program do for an encore?

“Our team will have a different make-up,” fifth-year coach Matt Gourley said. “Last year, we would get down the floor fast and shoot. This year, we'll be more physical.”

Gone are sharpshooters Lucas Burrell, Evan Davis and Josh Rey-nolds. Returning to the fold, however, are Tre Tipton and guard Alex Smith, both sophomores.

“We've got a good group of sophomores coming along, too” Gourley said. “We're going to change a few things and be very competitive.”

Mitchell Johnston and Dom Schrecengost, reserves last year, will be looked at as major contributors this season.

Also needing replaced are the Billingsley twins — Connor and Cody — who provided scoring and muscle when it was needed the most.

“The Billingsley boys were a huge factor in our success last year,” Gourley said.

Now the Vikings will rely on newcomer Eric Moran, at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, in the middle.

Other players the Vikings will rely on are Maurice Stankus, freshman guard Duane Brown and Ryan Ferguson.

Loren Wingard, a junior, also is expected to see playing time as Apollo-Ridge opens its 44th basketball season Dec. 6 at the Leechburg Tip-off tournament.

The Vikings will play in Section 1-AA, which was slimmed down to six teams last season with Freeport advancing to Class AAA and Elderton High School shutting its doors.

Apollo-Ridge will play a challenging nonsection schedule. One such game will be against Kittanning in a rare Wednesday night encounter two days before section play begins Dec. 20 against Summit Academy.

“I think Section 1 is a quality section,” Gourley said. “West Shamokin is always in the game, Ford City had a good tradition and Summit is always quick and athletic.”

Burrell and Deer Lakes both lost a considerable amount of starters and are expected to be down, but Gourley said he isn't expecting them to be out of it.

There are only 10 section games again this season, so each team has little room to stumble.

Gourley welcomes back key assistant Gary Davis, along with Ted Faber and Roger Gourley, the coach's father.

The Vikings also will host the Apollo Trust Tournament over the Christmas break with Leechurg, Saltsburg and defending Southwest Christian Conference champion Harvest Baptist participating.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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.