Penn-Trafford boys basketball returning experienced roster
The Penn-Trafford boys basketball team has one thing this season it didn’t have last year – experience.
The Warriors finished the 2013-14 season with only five wins but are looking to turn the corner with a junior-heavy squad that returns four starters.
“We took a season on the chin last year,” Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik said. “We started multiple juniors and sophomores. We’re returning four starters this year. We have something we haven’t had in awhile and that’s depth.”
The team continued to work during the offseason and played a total of 31 games in two shootouts, a fall league and multiple shootouts.
The dedication embodied Penn-Trafford’s motto for the season of “win the day.”
“Whatever the day is, we want to win in it,” Yarosik said. “Wether it is a section game, a nonsection game we have to pick ourselves up for or an 8 a.m. practice over Christmas break, we are going rise to the occasion and win that day.”
Leading the charge will be a three-year starter in junior guard Tim Vecchio. With his years of experience, Vecchio said his leadership skills have improved drastically.
“At a younger age, I didn’t feel that was my role,” Vecchio said. “But as years go on, me being a vocal leader has gotten better.”
Two more juniors in guards Dom Conconcelli and Sean Stinelli are returning starters.
Yarosik described Conconcelli as a lockdown defensive player and Stinelli as a top scoring threat. Senior guard Greg Dudiak is another returning Warriors starter.
“He had an up and down junior year but we are expecting a big season from him,” Yarosik said. “We think he is going to do a good job.”
Christian Creps, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, got starts last season and will by vying for a spot in this season’s starting five. A strong group of juniors will all vie for playing time this season, including guard Matt Bailey and a pair of forwards in Mike Barnes (6-4) and Brandon O’Toole (6-3).
“I can look at eight or nine guys who are vying for starting spots,” Yarosik said.
Junior guard Adam Lane will look to make an impact as a shooter this season.
While the team does return some size, the players said the success of the team will be dictated by its guard play.
“We are overall a smaller team,” Conconcelli said. “So we are going to try and run it more. Being smaller should help us get up and down the floor.”
Yarosik said this group of players had anywhere from 11 to 13 guys showing up for summer and fall league games. The team also focused more on improvement in the weight room, spending two days a week lifting.
The time together has help build chemistry amongst the players.
“I think you would find there is more chemistry in our locker room than most teams have,” Stinelli said. “For me, most guys on the team aren’t just friends in basketball but friends outside school. It helps the team bond.”
The team will need to be ready for a loaded Section 1-AAAA this season with several teams returning top players.
Hempfield went 21-3 last season and returns guard Kason Harrell and center Tony Pilato. Kiski returns point guard Mike Simmons who scored more than 20 points per game last season.
Latrobe returns Navy commit Matt Cullen, who scored 15.5 points per game last season. And Norwin looks to use a deep bench of up to 12 players.
“The section will be a grind every night,” Yarosik said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any single night. Hopefully we are the ones doing that.”
Despite a tough section slate, the players are not backing down from setting the goals high. The Warriors are looking for their first playoff berth since 2011, if not more.
“We’re really hungry,” Dudiak said. “We haven’t been in the playoffs in a few years so we want to show everyone what we are capable of.
“We just don’t want to make the playoffs but make a push and compete for the section, too.”
Penn-Trafford opens the season Dec. 5 at the Norwin Tipoff Tournament as it faces Highlands at 5 p.m. The Warriors will also play at Norwin on Dec. 6 when they face Altoona at 2 p.m.