Frustrated Clairton boys basketball seeks rhythm
The Clairton Bears held another boys basketball practice Wednesday night after their rescheduled WPIAL Section 3-A game against Mapletown was, well, rescheduled again.
It seems practicing is about all they can accomplish lately.
A total of nine postponements and an unusually late start to the season — the Bears played their first game on Dec. 20 — have kept Clairton from enjoying a normal schedule.
With about two weeks left in the regular season, the Bears (5-4, 3-1) had played the fewest games among WPIAL teams.
Mapletown (5-9, 1-4) did not travel to Clairton after the school called off classes Wednesday because of the frigid weather.
“With the section that we're in, most of the teams that we're playing are an hour or more south of us,” Clairton coach Matt Geletko said. “It seems as though it gets a lot colder and more snowy down that way. The postponements have been mostly on our opponents.”
Clairton, like many other schools, enforces a rule that states no extracurricular activities will be held if classes are called off for the day.
“I understand all of that,” Geletko said. “There's not a lot that can be done about it, but it's been a challenge for us to get into any type of rhythm.”
Clairton is playing with a collection of mainly inexperienced varsity players following the graduation of its entire starting lineup from last season's WPIAL Class A runner-up and PIAA playoffs qualifier.
Senior forward Rashead Pacley, Clairton's second-leading scorer, said the players are taking the postponements as well as possible.
“It's frustrating, but we're working through it,” Pacley said. “This is our first year together and we're just trying to come together. When we get a chance, we just focus on trying to get better used to each other and learn our tendencies. I believe we've got what it takes to be a good team.”
The Mapletown game has been rescheduled for next Wednesday. But prior to that, with the weather forecast calling for warmer temperatures, Clairton was expecting to face a string of section contests — some having been rescheduled — in a short time.
The Bears were preparing to travel to Carmichaels on Thursday and Avella on Friday, then play host to Carmichaels on Monday, then visit Geibel on Tuesday before the Mapletown game and a home game Feb. 6 against Monessen, which third-place Clairton trailed by two games.
The top four teams in the section will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
“It's been frustrating, for sure,” Geletko said. “The thing is, it's not like we're not working hard. The kids come to practice, and they're there to work. We just can't get any consistency right now.”
Senior guard Isaiah Hollis was leading Clairton in scoring with an average of 15.0 points. Pacley was next at 10.5, while 6-foot-5 sophomore Aaron Mathews was averaging 12.0 rebounds.
“No excuses, we lost all those starters and we have a whole new bunch now,” Geletko said. “For some of the guys, this is their first time at organized basketball in a while. They're starting to come around. We just need to play some more games.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.