Sewickley Academy boys basketball sports team of winners
What does coach Win Palmer like about the members of the 2013-14 Sewickley Academy boys basketball team?
Whether it is soccer, golf, baseball or tennis, the multisport athletes have found success in other sports.
The goal will be to continue that success on the hardwood.
“The program is full of winners,” Palmer said. “The key is going to be how we take strong athletes and turn them into good basketball teammates. I think it is healthy for them to play different sports. They're not focusing on basketball, and that makes them hungry.”
The team lost four seniors from a squad that went 8-13 and fell to Monessen, 60-52, in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoff last season. The Panthers have 10 seniors returning from that team and should have plenty of experience.
Leading the charge will be senior guard Keenan Hickton, whom Palmer described as the team's best outside shooter. Senior forward Ty Roberts will use his 6-foot-2 frame to find points around the rim.
The team will also have a strong shot blocker in 6-5 senior forward Luke Vith. Size will be needed if Sewickley Academy hopes to compete in Class A this season.
“Class A is loaded with tall, long, athletic teams,” Palmer said. “I am impressed with the quality of teams this season. The classification might not match up against the higher ones in some sports, but boys basketball isn't one of those. We have our work cut out for us.”
The team is expecting to get considerable minutes from seniors JP Bowell, Sam Shetty, Tom Pregel and Mike Manzinger along with juniors Drew Johnson and Anthony Muscato as well as sophomore Scott Brown.
“No one guy has to go into a game feeling they have to score all the points,” Palmer said. “We have a number of guys who can score for us every night.”
Palmer said the team is looking to have a more aggressive defense this season. With a number of players able to come off the bench mixed with the returning talent, Sewickley Academy will be able to put pressure on its opponents.
“We have a legitimate shot blocker, and our guards are willing to take charges,” Palmer said. “Plus with their speed, they should be able to steal passes. We should be a fun team to watch.”
Palmer said the Panthers will be in for a battle in Section 2-A against the likes of defending WPIAL Class A champion Vincentian Academy and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in Section 1-A. But if the team can find strengthen its defense, Sewickley Academy will qualify for the WPIAL postseason for the 12th straight season.
“I want the team to create a defensive presence where guards don't like playing us because we're pesky,” Palmer said. “And if teams take it to the basket, we have a shot blocker waiting. If we can get a defensive presence with multiple scorers, we will be a difficult team to beat.”
The Panthers start their season Dec. 6 when they host Linsly School at 7:30 p.m.