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Connellsville boys basketball team's hopes hinge of maturation of youngsters

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 12:13 a.m.
Michael Parlak (31) and Jimmy Leichliter (25) are part of a young group of players that will hit the floor for the Connellsville boys basketball team this season. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

A youth movement is under way for the Connellsville boys basketball team as it prepares for the challenges that lie ahead during the 2012-13 season.

Dan Bosnic, the team's fifth-year coach, must come up with a way to replace a talented group of seniors that helped the Falcons post a 12-10 record last season. Lost to graduation were starters Paul Martin, Ryan Pearl, Adam Siecinski and Nick Pittsment.

“It's definitely a youthful group,” Bosnic said. “They have worked well to this point. It's a group with a lot of enthusiasm, but a group that will have some growing pains.”

Heading into the season, the Falcons are already dealing with the injury bug; senior Grant Wortman and junior Trent Bauer are sidelined. Both logged a lot of minutes last year.

The Falcons have several players with valuable varsity experience. Leading the way will be junior forward Jade Maher.

“We expect a lot of good things out of Jade,” Bosnic said. “He'll have to play a central role.”

Junior forward Jimmy Leichliter and junior guard Michael Parlak are also expected to play key roles.

“They were sophomores last year, and they will have to grow up fast,” Bosnic said.

Sophomore forward Caleb Pittsment and sophomore guard Brock Bonadio are projected to play in the starting lineup.

Junior Austin Heinbaugh, as well as sophomores Jake Connell and Griffin Thompson, could also step up and be solid contributors.

For the Falcons to have success, the team concept will be heavily enforced.

“We are trying to preach that we are a team, and we have to play as a team,” Bosnic said. “Our success will be predicated by our effort on the court every day.”

In recent seasons, the Falcons have had a lot of size down low, but this year, the group is a bit smaller. Therefore, strong perimeter play will be a necessity.

“As a program, we are trying to improve on our shooting because the teams in our section (Section 1-AAAA opponents Albert Gallatin, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Latrobe, Norwin and Penn-Trafford) can score at a high rate, and we have to keep up with teams. Hopefully we can put our kids in spots to be successful.”

Of course, being successful in the section certainly won't be easy. In fact, last season, the Falcons, despite posting a winning overall record, only managed a 5-9 section record and finished in sixth place.

“I think it is the best talent the section has had in a long time,” Bosnic said. “We will hope that we can be competitive with these teams and improve over the course of the season.”

With so many key players lost to graduation and the team dealing with injuries, the Falcons may be facing an uphill battle. However, Maher certainly sees plenty of positives as he and his teammates get ready for the new campaign. And he likes the fact that others may not expect much from Connellsville this season.

“I think it's a blessing in disguise, because people may overlook us because we are young,” Maher said. “But we are a close group, and we know each other. I think we can be a playoff team.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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