New Freeport boys hoops coach Greiser provides continuity
Wayne Greiser swapped roles with Mike Beale after last season, becoming the coach for the Freeport boys basketball team, but outside of a change in title not much is different.
The same staff is back from last year, including Beale as an assistant, which Greiser said helped make for a smooth transition and an unchanged philosophy.
The Yellowjackets will have the same up-tempo pressing style of basketball.
“That’s been our style, and we feel like that it fits our kids from grades 7-12,” Greiser said. “That’s something that we kind of live on is full-court pressing up and down and pushing it offensively and defensively. Our defense creates our offense, and that’s what we’re going to try and do again this year.”
Freeport returns two starters, senior Jalen Brown and junior Aiden Skradski, from a team that went 15-7 and finished second in Section 1-4A before falling to South Fayette in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive season. A third playoff meeting with South Fayette will not happen because the Lions moved to Class 5A.
Isiah Bauman, who started last year, did not come out for the team. Ben Beale, last season’s Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year, graduated.
Brown and Skradski will be counted on for their experience. Aside from a few tweaks to practice, the routine hasn’t changed much, and they’re excited to see what they can do this season.
“There’s no one that’s more dedicated to this program than Coach Greiser,” Skradski said. “He’s been with us the last few years and pushing us all. Jalen and I used to work out with him when we were in seventh and eighth grade.”
Garret Schaffhauser, the team’s sixth man last season, moves into the starting lineup, and there are plenty of others vying for time. Football standout Patrick Keeley, a senior, came out for the team. Daniel Lynch, Jarrett Heilman, Cole Furer and Andrew Speer make up a junior quartet of guards looking to get minutes. Greiser has 6-foot-5 freshman Matt Aulicino and junior Nolan Plocki at his disposal as forwards. Sophomore guard Chris Waronsky and freshman Vinnie Clark also are looking to crack the lineup.
“We have a lot of younger guys coming in, and with Isiah not playing it’s good to see these guys stepping up,” Brown said.
Freeport scheduled a challenging nonsection slate, which starts with playing Kiski Prep and Mars in its tip-off tournament. The Yellowjackets also have road games with two-time defending Class 4A champion New Castle and two-time defending Class 2A champ Sewickley Academy.
“We expect to make the playoffs, and those are playoff-quality opponents,” Greiser said. “We want to test ourselves and see how we match up to use that experience when it comes playoff time.”
Last year’s Section 1-4A champion, Indiana, moved up to Class 5A, and the section’s other playoff teams, Valley and Deer Lakes, dropped to 3A. Freeport scheduled a nonsection game with Deer Lakes at the end of the season.
Freeport lost two Alle-Kiski rivals in section but gained Highlands and Knoch, which both dropped down from Class 5A. Derry, Mt. Pleasant and Yough are also in the section. Greiser coached at Yough for four years and is looking forward to getting the opportunity to play the Cougars.
Skradski and Brown are eager to reignite the rivalries with Knoch and Highlands. They have fond memories of the games from their youth.
“We grew up watching the Freeport/Knoch and Freeport/Highlands rivalries and saw the big student sections over at the old high school gym,” Skradski said. “It’s cool to start those games up again and play in front of packed houses.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.