Archive

Apollo-Ridge basketball wants fast pace this season | TribLIVE.com
News

Apollo-Ridge basketball wants fast pace this season

VNDARbball7111814
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Apollo-Ridge's Alex Amith passes the ball during their practice at the high school in Kiski Township on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.
VNDARbball8111814
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Apollo-Ridge's Eric Moran passes the ball during their practice at the high school in Kiski Township on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.
VNDARbball5111814
Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Apollo-Ridge boys basketgball coach Matt Gourley motions during a practice at the high school in Kiski Township on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.

Apollo-Ridge is busting at the seams with backcourt athleticism. So much, in fact, that coach Matt Gourley might be able to conserve his dry-erase markers.

“I tell our guys, I don’t care if we run a play all night, as long as you run the floor and pressure the heck out of people,” Gourley said. “We can cut the kids loose and let them run. Defense is our one play.”

The Vikings plan to apply non-stop pressure to the basketball and score in transition. Offensively, it could be run-and-gun with no signs of slowing down.

The talented backcourt could flourish with the long-range shooting of senior Alex Smith and sophomore Duane Brown, and the dribble-drive playmaking of senior Tre Tipton. Brown and Tipton could share time at the point.

Tipton averaged 14.7 points last year, Smith 12.9 and Brown 12.5 for the Vikings. Smith and Brown combined for 56 3-pointers. Tipton also led the team in rebounds (8.7), assists (5.4), steals (4.1) and blocks (1.4).

But the guard play could get plenty of complementary help inside.

Returning juniors Eric Moran and Maurice Stankus resume play in the low block. Moran is 6-foot-6, 320 pounds; Stankus is 6-1 and 210.

Moran can score inside and rebound, but his ability to impede opponents will be an asset.

“Eric is that big body for us; we look for him to pressure on people,” Gourley said. “His footwork is getter better down low. We’re encouraged with him.”

Senior Mike Percic (5-1 1220), freshman Kyle Fitzroy (6- 3170) and junior Dillon Shipman (6- 1150) also will provide size. Fitzroy has shown a shooting touch.

Gourley organized a few open gyms prior to Monday’s official start date for practice. He couldn’t make it mandatory for the football players, whose season ended on Nov. 7 with a quarterfinal playoff loss, to attend those sessions. Moran and Stankus showed up any way, ready to get into basketball shape.

Gourley can draw parallels to the football team, some good, some bad.

“They broke the A-K record for points in a season (with 499 points),” Gourley said. “It would be nice to do that in basketball, too.

The Vikings, who point to a 68-67 loss to Summit Academy as the season’s sour spot, averaged 60 or more points the last two seasons. And they have had a strong two-year stretch, going 18-9 and reaching the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs two years ago, and then finishing 19-4 last season with another playoff win.

They’ll play in new-look Section 2-AA with East Allegheny, Ford City, Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny and Wilkinsburg.

“We’ll have to learn as we go,” Gourley said.

Seniors Loren Wingard and Dylan Flickinger also figure into the backcourt rotation, as does junior Ghaven Baum.

Gourley said his senior players have shown the way to the underclassmen.

“Their leadership will be beneficial to us,” Gourley said. “This is my sixth year coaching. Sometimes, senior kids don’t want anything to do with the younger kids. Our seniors really seem to enjoy helping those guys.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at [email protected].

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.