Thomas Jefferson boys' basketball team senior-driven
Thomas Jefferson's boys basketball team is the defending Section 4-AAA champion.
The Jaguars won four consecutive games and five of their final six last season to wrap up their first section title in three years.
Defending the crown may prove difficult in 2013-14.
“Our section is really loaded this year. On paper, it's the best section I have been involved in since I have been at TJ,” said Dom DeCicco, the Jaguars' ninth-year head coach.
“Whoever wins the section is going to have to earn it.”
DeCicco has a large group of senior athletes to work with this winter — there are 11 seniors on the varsity roster heading into the first week of the 2013-14 season.
Included in that group are returning starters Chase Winovich, at center; Jason Horan, a guard/forward; and Zach Talley, at guard. Winovich was an all-section selection last season.
Three key reserves back from last year's squad are seniors Eric Fairman, who teams with Winovich to provide the Jaguars with a strong defensive presence on the boards; along with guard Zach Good and swingman Charlie Scharbo.
Also looking to make contributions this season are senior guards Steve Andros, Dan Terpin and Zach Michak, along with guard/forwards Christian Breisinger and Ben Miscavage.
Thomas Jefferson lost three players to graduation off last year's squad in guard/forward Joe Carroll, guard Zach Schademan and forward Adam Miller.
Carroll led the Jaguars in scoring, and ranked among the WPIAL's leading scorers a year ago.
The junior class on this year's team is represented by Russell Siess, Frankie Langan and Frankie Gentille, while top sophomore prospects at the varsity level include C.J. Mason and Steve Dunlap.
“We are 12-deep and can play different styles. We're looking to improve on the success we had last year, and make the next step,” said DeCicco, who has been incorporating the football team members into the mix during preseason drills.
Thomas Jefferson won the section championship last year with a 12-0 record. West Mifflin, Steel Valley, Elizabeth Forward and East Allegheny also were WPIAL qualifiers.
The Jaguars, who ended up 17-8 overall, closed out the season with back-to-back losses to Montour and General McLane in the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
“I thought our kids had a great season,” DeCicco said, “but we did not accomplish all our goals.”
TJ's veteran floor boss said he believes it will be a dogfight all winter in section games.
“Steel Valley has everyone back. EF has two more transfers to go along with (Jalen) French, (JaQuan) Davidson and (Matt) Bernadowski, and West Mifflin has Ryan Maha and a lot of great athletes,” DeCicco said. “To be honest, Ringgold, Belle Vernon and East Allegheny will be good also.
“It is going to be a very competitive section.”
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.