Share This Page

Apollo-Ridge boys begin quest for rare playoff berth

| Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 10:34 p.m.
Apollo-Ridge guard Alex Smith looks to pass during practice on Monday. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

After getting experience as freshmen last season, Apollo-Ridge sophomore guards Tre Tipton and Alex Smith are set to help the Vikings jump back into playoff contention.

Apollo-Ridge, which finished 10-12 overall and 2-10 in Section 1-AA last season, has made the WPIAL playoffs just once in the past nine seasons and hasn't won a playoff game since 2003.

But fourth-year coach Matt Gourley said he believes the Vikings have the ingredients to be a contender in a wide-open playoff race, with Tipton and Smith manning key roles.

“Those two are going to complement what we think is a real nice senior group this year,” Gourley said. “Tre can play anywhere and Alex is can play inside and out; he's very versatile.”

Among the seniors the Vikings are counting on are the frontcourt twins, 6-foot-4 Cody and 6-5 Connor Billingsley, and third-year starter Josh Reynolds.

“We're looking for a leadership role in Josh,” Gourley said. “He can play different positions and he's a good penetrator.”

The section has a different look. Freeport is gone, and Burrell and Deer Lakes have moved down from Class AAA. Summit Academy also is a newcomer.

“I'm happy with the section we're in,” Gourley said. “I think it's a very equal section — anybody can beat anybody on any night. It should be pretty interesting.”

Adding depth to the Vikings this season are seniors Luke Burrell, Matt Hazi and Evan Davis. Juniors Dom Schrecengost and Mitchell Johnston also are expected to contribute.

Gourley will be assisted again by Eric Andring, former head coach Gary Davis, Roger Gourley — the coach's father — and Ted Faber.

But Matt Gourley feels one of the most important people coming into the program is Bruce Yard, who will handle the players in grades 3-6.

The Vikings will open the season Dec. 7 in the Leechburg Tip-off Tournament against Winchester-Thurston. They begin the section schedule Dec. 14 against visiting Summit Academy.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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.