Section 5-AA champion Brownsville aims to avoid another early playoff exit
Cole and Ryan Novotney might possess opposite games, but they're united by one thing.
Both members of the Brownsville boys basketball team want to win a playoff game before their careers are over.
Preferably a few of them.
Because of the Novotneys — fraternal twins — plus a more methodical pace and an acknowledgement that the playoffs are different, the Falcons might be ready to snap a stretch that has included one-and-done trips to the postseason the past three years.
“That's what we always talk about,” Cole Novotney said. “We won the section. But we don't want to be another one-and-done.”
Brownsville (13-7) went 12-2 in Section 5-AA to edge second-place Charleroi by a game. The Falcons will play Brentwood on Saturday in a preliminary-round game at Peters Township, the winner assuming the No. 13 seed and taking on No. 4 Beaver Falls on Wednesday.
While knocking off the defending WPIAL champs would be nice, the first step is handling Brentwood.
“They know what's on the line,” Brownsville coach Brian Brashear said. “They don't want to go home early.”
Cole Novotney is the lone returning starter from last season. The 6-foot guard excels at shooting mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers. Ryan Novotney, meanwhile, is 6-2 and prefers to drive and draw contact.
“That's a good thing,” Brashear said of the Novotneys' divergent styles. “It can confuse defenses because they don't know which is which.”
Nick Despot, a senior forward, averages 12 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Carl Dellapenna averages three assists and is the team's top defender.
Senior guard DeShawtae Bell has been a pleasant surprise this season, Brashear said, especially for his work on the defensive end.
Sophomore guards Marcellous Grooms and Travis Bevard are the first two off the bench depending on matchups, Brashear said.
Brownsville dropped a 44-38 decision to Northgate in the playoffs after finishing 16-6 a season ago. That followed postseason losses the previous two years to Wilkinsburg and Neshannock.
One common denominator? The Falcons struggled to turn things around when things didn't go their way.
“We have to react to adversity in a positive way,” Ryan Novotney said. “Any time adversity strikes, we get down. We think, ‘We're down six, we have to shoot 3s.'
“This year we're a lot more patient.”
The Novotneys aren't going to change how they do things. Same socks, same arm sleeves, same brother-to-brother conversation before they're announced as starters — always last.
But Brownsville certainly wouldn't mind reversing its playoff fortunes and advancing past the preliminary round, a place the Falcons haven't been since winning a WPIAL Class AAA title in 2001.
“We want to make a run this year,” Brashear said. “This will be our fourth consecutive year in the playoffs. We want to establish ourselves with a win. We were section champs this year. Hopefully that gives us the confidence we need.”