Ford City boys basketball coach brings winning personality for final season
Ford City’s boys basketball program is the school’s most decorated, with a record 33 section titles, three WPIAL titles and two PIAA runner-up finishes.
Adding to those totals might be a tall order for a team coming off a 6-15 season, but this year’s Sabers hope, at least, to improve and make a run at the playoffs in the program’s final season.
Four starters return for the Sabers, and that is just one of the reasons fourth-year coach Greg Hutcherson thinks his team will compete in a reshuffled Section 2-AA.
Senior forward Blake Bower is the team’s top returning scorer, and senior guard Noah Nulph, junior forward Brandon Heilman and junior guard Jake Bowman give Ford City players with varsity experience.
“We’ve never really slowed down since last season, and the guys who aren’t football guys, they have been working year-round in summer league and fall league. We’re trying to be in midseason form to start,” Hutcherson said. “Blake, Noah, Jake, those guys are two-year starters, and they know what we expect.”
While it’s known what each of those four can bring to the floor, Hutcherson will have other options after getting the largest turnout trying out for the team in his four years.
Hutcherson is excited about the possible contributions of 6-foot-3 freshman forward Nate Baillie, who could help take the rebounding pressure off 6-3 Bower and 6-6 Heilman. Freshman Dawson Porter and junior Anthony Falsetti are two other potential role players Hutcherson mentioned who, like Baillie and some first-year upperclassmen, started working out with the team after football season.
“Every team likes when you’ve got starters returning, but what I like most about this team is the freshman class coming up and the new guys,” Bower said. “Nate’s going to really help inside, Dawson is just a really smart player, and they’re all going to be able to play right away.”
“We’re trying to mix some old guys with some young guys and put the best possible team on the floor,” Hutcherson said. “This is my deepest team I’ve had here. I don’t know who’s going to start or who’s going to play where yet, but there’s some good competition going on in practice.”
Likely section favorite Apollo-Ridge is the Sabers’ only section opponent held over from last year, and Ford City will log miles playing home and away against East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny and Wilkinsburg.
“We’re going to go hard every day, and Hutch has that winning mentality he brings,” Bower said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, a pick-up game or a section game. There’s no losing here.”