Thomas Jefferson boys return quartet of starters
The Thomas Jefferson boys' basketball team is loaded with experience.
Coach Dom DeCicco welcomed eight lettermen back to this year's team.
“We have a lot of kids coming back with experience, but as always it will be a challenge to get everything to mesh early,” DeCicco said. “We just got our football guys back (recently), but guys are working very hard.”
Senior guards Ryan Cusick and Nick Freiwald, and senior boardmen Zane Zandier and Justin Farrell, are returning starters.
Senior guard Tommy Campbell, junior wings Noah Palmer and Garret Fairman and junior center Spencer Everly are returning lettermen.
“We have a lot of guys that have played in big games last couple of years,” said DeCicco, who has been emphasizing defense in early practices.
“We always work on how we want to defend early on. Because of only having the guys (at practice) two weeks before the first game, we know we have to win games defensively early on,” he said.
Thomas Jefferson is a member of Section 1 in Class 5A.
DeCicco offered a brief scouting report on some of the section teams.
“West Mifflin always has great athletes, and Lance (Maha, WM's coach) does a great job,” he said. “McKeesport has a lot of athletic players that really defend well. Trinity returns an excellent player, as does Laurel Highlands.
“And you have Albert Gallatin, which played in 4A last year, and Ringgold, which beat us once last year.”
So, which teams appear to be the frontrunners?
“To be honest, it could be anyone,” DeCicco said. “Being (in) a new section, it will be challenging to make the playoffs.”
Thomas Jefferson, which will open the season in the Baldwin/Peters Township tip-off tournament, finished 11-13 overall and tied for third place in Section 4-AAA in 2015-16.
The Jaguars defeated Yough, 57-48, in the WPIAL preliminary round last year before losing to Beaver Falls, 62-49, in the first round.
The Baldwin/Peters Township tip-off tournament will take place Friday and Saturday.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.