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Basketball

Sewickley Academy guard Groetsch becomes prolific scorer for Panthers

| Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, 5:12 p.m.
Rochester's Chad Meny tries to get past Sewickley Academy's Chris Groetsch during a game Friday, Jan. 8, 2015, at Rochester.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Rochester's Chad Meny tries to get past Sewickley Academy's Chris Groetsch during a game Friday, Jan. 8, 2015, at Rochester.
Sewickley Academy's Chris Groetsch dribbles the ball during a game against Rochester on Friday,  Jan. 8, 2015, at Rochester.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Sewickley Academy's Chris Groetsch dribbles the ball during a game against Rochester on Friday, Jan. 8, 2015, at Rochester.

Sewickley Academy's boys basketball team has no shortage of scoring threats, but no one has displayed consistency filling the rim quite like Chris Groetsch.

Groetsch, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, is averaging 20.8 points per game for the 11-1 Panthers, but perhaps more impressively, he has posted that average by scoring at least 17 points in all 12 games entering this week's play.

As a returning starter, Groetsch was expected to be one of the team's top players this season, but even he didn't expect his current scoring rate.

“Definitely coming into the season, I wanted to score more than last year,” Groetsch said. “I wasn't thinking about trying to be the primary scorer. I'm just playing hard every day and seeing what comes to me.”

Groetsch appears to have taken things up even another level since Christmas. He posted a season-best 35 points against PIAA Class A No. 1 Kennedy Catholic in a 79-63 loss Dec. 28, and in the four games since the holiday, he is averaging 24 points.

“We were all pretty hyped up to play that game, knowing that Kennedy Catholic was No. 1 in the state,” he said. “We all wanted to try to play our best. I made my first few shots and just started feeling it.”

Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer isn't surprised at the junior's progress after an offseason in which he worked to diversify his arsenal.

Known primarily as a 3-point shooter during his sophomore season, Groetsch is becoming a better finisher going to the rim or pulling up from 12-15 feet.

“I wanted to find ways I could improve, and my weakness last year definitely was driving. I was limited to just being a shooter,” Groetsch said. “Also, coming into my junior year, I was a little more confident than I was as a freshman or even last year.”

“Chris had an outstanding year last year as a sophomore, but he has improved leaps and bounds,” Palmer said. “He has improved his skills so much, and he has worked out to make himself stronger, too. Between Chris and Justin (Pryor), we have two guards who can do it all.”

Pryor was the Panthers' leading scorer last season, and he hasn't disappointed with his overall play or scoring at 16.9 ppg.

That 1-2 punch in the backcourt has allowed the team to thrive in transition and opened the interior for the post players, both of which contribute to the Panthers averaging 74.6 points per game.

“It's fun to see other people try to defend us. I think Justin still gets the other team's best defender, but I'm curious to see if that keeps happening,” Palmer said. “(Kennedy Catholic) has a 6-9 post player at the rim and did a good job chasing (Groetsch) off the 3-point line, and Chris did a good job hitting pull-up jumpers.

“A lot of kids are comfortable getting their feet set and shooting 3s, but hitting that pull-up requires a combination of footwork and ability to dribble that so many players are lacking.”

Groetsch said he hopes to play basketball in college, but it isn't an “end-all, be-all” when picking a school. His coach, however, said Groetsch shouldn't have a problem finding a school if he wants to play at the next level.

“He's a tremendous student as well, and with his size and skill set, he fits the profile of a high-academic Division III program. He's 5-10, and there was a D-I coach at the Kennedy game who said if he was 6-1 or 6-2, he might be a Division I player,” Palmer said.

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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