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Jeannette boys ready, eager for season to start

PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette SPirit - Jayhawk Michael Wise eyes up his shot in an early season practice.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>PHOTOS: John Howard | The Jeannette SPirit</em></div>Jayhawk Michael Wise eyes up his shot in an early season practice.
- Coach Adrian Batts instructs his players.
Coach Adrian Batts instructs his players.
- Zach Altieri guards against Terrel Canady in practice.
Zach Altieri guards against Terrel Canady in practice.

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Top high school sports
By Dave Moio
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 3:36 p.m.
 

If this is the last hurrah for Jeannette boys basketball in WPIAL Class AA, head coach Adrian Batts is planning to go out with a bang.

This month's surprise reversal by the Jeannette School Board to reclassify every Jeannette sports team in Class A hangs in limbo regarding the basketball program, but Batts does not care — he is shooting for it all.

“I really like this team and I really think we have a chance to do something this season,” said Batts. “I like the focus and commitment, and I like our leadership and the way the players have taken accountability for everything.”

Batts can be excited about the intangibles because his team has the tangibles — talent, scoring, defense, speed and quickness, and basketball IQ — to compete with most double A schools.

The key player going into the season is not a secret to anyone who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to the Jayhawks program the past two seasons. Junior point guard Julian Batts, Adrian's son, enters his third season as a starter and floor general.

Oddly enough, Batts the coach attributes Batts the player's development to, of all things, football.

“Being the quarterback for the football team has really helped Julian become a better basketball player,” said the elder Batts. “He has learned how to be a leader and the weight lifting for football gives him more confidence on the floor when being bumped and coming off of screens and picks.”

Batts, who is getting early looks from Division I schools, is not the only Jayhawk being noticed.

Senior forward Miles Sunder has an offer from Division-II University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Fellow senior forwards Michael Wise, Matt Howard and Damone Morton should give Jeannette very good secondary scoring, and Batts Sr. is very excited about the development of some younger players.

Batts expects the usual cast of characters — emphasis on character — Greensburg Central Catholic — to be the team for Jeannette to beat in Section 3-AA in 2013-14. He is not at all worried about his teaming looking ahead to the two GCC games and forsaking others on the schedule.

“A lot of our guys play football and they are not happy with the way the football season ended,” said Batts. “They are a hungry, focused group, and they could do something special this year.”

Dave Moio is a freelance writer.

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