Leechburg boys basketball team seeks stability
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Leechburg boys basketball coach Damian Davies never fails to be enthusiastic about his team, and this season is no different.
“Our goals are always to be competitive, to feel like we've done everything we can to make ourselves successful,” Davies said. “You can put your head on the pillow and rest easily. That helps us deal with (Class) A basketball.”
Last season, the Blue Devils earned a spot in the WPIAL playoffs with an 8-13 record (3-7 in Section 4-A).
That team worked most of its offense through then-senior forward Jake Iellimo.
“He averaged a double-double every game he played. He was a powerhouse,” Davies said. “This year we have a nice balance. That's the good thing about having a team that has played a lot together. The chemistry is real good.”
Ben Ritchie, a three-year starter, is the top returnee.
Senior guard Alex Sipolino has grown a few inches since the last time he was on the court.
“I wish that happened more often for us,” Davies said with a laugh.
Taylor Oberdorf rounds out the returning senior starters. Oberdorf's ball skills, offensively and defensively means he will see a lot of action around the ball.
“We've been playing with younger guys so long. We have a nice group of older guys this season,” Davies said. “I hope we're more stable handling different situations and pressures because of that.”
Despite his 5-foot-8 frame, senior Wesley Gibson is classified as a “utility man” by Davies.
“He can play almost any position. He's a smart kid,” Davies said. “We can definitely use him.”
Leechburg also sports a few younger players who will make an impact on the team.
Junior contributors are Randy Smail, who shoots the ball well; Jordan Cominos, who brings a presence down low; and Ryan McDermott, who has shown improvements from last season.
Sophomore point guard Blake Steininger also saw some time in the starting lineup last season.
A proposed move to District 6, originally passed but was struck down in July, would have been most beneficial to the basketball program.
“There are no real rivalries for us. We would have had some rivalries,” Davies said. “Saltsburg could have been a big rival. Similar size, similar type of school. One of the things is we are going to do is play some teams from District 9 this season.”
Traditional rivals for Leechburg, such as Springdale, Riverview and Apollo-Ridge, play in Class AA. The only time those teams would appear on the Blue Devils' schedule is for tournaments and nonsection games.
“Familiarity creates excitement. Familiarity brings the communities together.,” Davies said. “Half the time, your section changes in the WPIAL. (Rivals) bring their community to our gym. We bring our community to their gym.”
No matter the league Leechburg finds itself in, the popularity of the program has not dwindled. It doesn't look like that is going to change any time soon.
“I think Leechburg loyalty is there. That's what I love about it. We always pack the house,” Davies said. “I think people are excited. If not, they will be after Thursday.”
Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.