Trib Cup: South Fayette boys basketball expected to contend
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Having lost four of its five starters and facing a bulked-up group of section rivals, South Fayette coach Rich Bonnaure had every reason to go the easy route when it came to constructing a nonsection schedule.
He asked his players. They wouldn't let him do it.
“I let them get involved in the schedule to kind of see what they're thinking,” Bonnaure said. “I just know how they set their sights. They realize we'll probably lose some games with this schedule, but it'll give us the best chance to reach our full potential.”
The Lions already had to deal with Montour in Section 5-AAA, and this season the WPIAL upped the ante in the section by adding WPIAL powerhouse Chartiers Valley, which is down from Class AAAA, and Keystone Oaks, which moved over from Section 4-AAA after a 20-2 regular season last year.
Among South Fayette's eight nonsection games, three are against programs from Maryland and West Virginia. All five nonsection opponents from the WPIAL are coming off playoff seasons, four of which were PIAA qualifiers.
Not an easy task for a team that had to replace three senior starters and then found out it will be without senior Zach Challingsworth due to injury. Challingsworth was the Lions' leading scorer last season.
“We've moved on,” Bonnaure said. “I like the kids that are here. We'll find out early because we know we took on a tough schedule that will make us better if we meet it head on.”
South Fayette split two tough early games, getting a big 77-69 win in its opener at Keystone Oaks Tuesday before playing what Bonnaure called “our worst game in my 10 years of coaching” Wednesday in a 49-34 loss at West Mifflin. South Fayette's home opener is 7:45 p.m. Friday against South Park.
As they have been for most of the past decade, the Lions are expected to be a factor in their section title race and perhaps make a run in the postseason. That would only help South Fayette's placing in the Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award Class AAA standings. The school ranks fifth.
“We want to try to get pressure on the ball and still run when we get the ball,” Bonnaure said. “That's kind of been a defensive staple for us for the 10 years I've been there. We're trying to get it back to where we were one of the best defensive teams. We need to if we're going to have any shot at all in the section we are in.”
Bonnaure's son, senior point guard Evan Bonnaure, is the Lions' lone returning starter and high returning scorer. He had a game-high 29 points in the season opener Tuesday.
“We should be pretty balanced,” Rich Bonnaure said. “Evan's worked so hard the past year and a half to make himself a better player. He can score, or he can distribute the ball. He can be a ‘1' or a ‘2' guard but plays the ‘1' for us. He just wants to win more than any kid I've ever coached, to be honest.”
Swing man C.J. Rudisic (6-5) and 6-2 guard Lucas Russell are seniors in the starting lineup, joined by 6-2 junior forward Justin Watson and 6-4 sophomore center Brett Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh was second in the WPIAL in passing yards this past football season (Challingsworth was fourth in receiving).
Sophomore Nick McKee is the primary backup at guard, junior Ben Berkovitz spells Brumbaugh on the post, and junior Sam Guadagnino comes off the bench at forward.
Bonnaure said the group played more than 40 games in summer and fall leagues.
“We don't have a real vocal leader, but these guys having been together all summer and fall, and they've really grown up from the spring,” Bonnaure said. “They really set their sights high when we made the schedule. They're looking forward to it.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Penguin Kessel’s shot is what makes him special
- Ex-teammates say Kessel unfairly criticized
- Pirates notebook: Taillon headed for surgery, Richard traded
- Floating homes offer ‘affordable’ option in San Francisco area
- Jewish congregations dwindling, forced to mull viability of worship sites
- America’s path to freedom reflected in region’s numerous historic sites
- Early turnout strong for Pittsburgh’s Fourth of July festivities
- Russian winger Plotnikov could join Penguins in August
- Business gallery: July 5, 2015
- Gorman: Barnstorming tour bigger than baseball
- Pirates can’t overcome long rain delay, Indians in interleague setback