Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week: West Allegheny’s Jackson Faulk
School: West Allegheny
As a 5-foot-10 freshman two years ago, Jackson Faulk began his high school career through the struggles of a long season.
West Allegheny finished the 2016-17 season in the basement of Section 2-5A with an overall record of 1-21.
But things have been on the upswing for both Faulk and his Indians teammates since.
Last year, a re-birth of the West Allegheny boys basketball program took place under first-year coach Andrew Tsangaris as the Indians finished 11-12, made the playoffs and reached the quarterfinals.
West Allegheny split two section games last week, but the win was enough to clinch a second place trip to the postseason.
Faulk’s week started with a 26-point performance in a 16-point victory over Trinity.
“It was a playoff game, and our guys knew what was at stake against a very good and well coached Trinity team,” Tsangaris said. “Jackson had 18 in the first half, and the team knew Trinity would make adjustments in the second half to defend against him. Jackson did a good job in the second half adjusting his game to find and create opportunities for his teammates.”
The Indians ended the regular season with a 50-44 loss to one of the top teams in the class, Chartiers Valley. Faulk led West Allegheny with 20 points.
Faulk is one of the leading scorers in the district, averaging more than 20 points per game. But Tsangaris is more pleased with his unselfish play.
“A great example was last week at South Fayette. He had 14 points in a double overtime win. The winning shot by Joe Pustover came when Jackson got double teamed near half court and instead of forcing something and taking a tough shot, he took one dribble out of a double team and had faith in his teammate to make the shot.”
Tsangaris said another key to the junior’s successful season is his competitiveness.
“He wants to win every drill in practice, and it carries over to the games,” he said. “Most kids aren’t practice guys, especially this time of year, but Jackson is. He doesn’t like to be subbed out in practice, and when he does he’s on a side hoop shooting or working on his ball-handling.”
Faulk is expected to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career in the playoffs and could become the Indians’ all-time leading scorer at some point next season.
“Jackson has become a better student of the game and has a better understanding of what we want to accomplish on offense and defense,” Tsangaris said. “He is constantly having conversations with our assistants Perry Harrop, John Lee and Kobe Phillippi regarding things he sees on the floor and what we need to do. He spends a ton of time watching film but unlike most kids he isn’t creating his own highlight film.”
Faulk and his teammates will have to be at their best in the postseason against a tough and deep Class 5A playoff field.
“We just want to have a good week of practice leading up to our first-round opponent, and our guys know that is where it starts,” Tsangaris said. “Every player has a job to do, and we need to execute. I think our section and nonsection schedule has prepared us for an open 5A field. Our players have significant postseason experience in other sports that has prepared them for the tough teams we will see.”
Colin Cote, Peters Township
When Colin Cote was held in check last week by scoring 15 points against Canon-McMillan, Peters Township lost 62-58. But when the junior went wild on the scoresheet, the Indians added two more wins to their 14-7 record. Cote scored 30 points Friday as Peters Township cruised past playoff-bound Connellsville 76-52. Then, on Saturday, he pumped in 28 points as the Indians picked up an impressive 62-55 triumph over Class 3A power North Catholic.
Tyree Spencer, Penn Hills
Penn Hills concluded another successful regular season with a 3-0 record last week that allowed it to win the Section 1-5A championship by three full games. Senior Tyree Spencer fine-tuned his game for the postseason by pumping in 22 points in a 65-52 win at home against McKeesport on Tuesday, followed up with 24 points on Friday in a 63-57 showdown victory at Woodland Hills, then added 17 points to lead all scorers in Penn Hills’ 58-42 win at Albert Gallatin.
Malcom Randall, Northgate
When your team is 4-17, it might be tough to be motivated or driven to do your best as the season winds down. That is not an issue with Malcom Randall. Despite the tough season, the Northgate senior scored 94 points in three games. He had 30 Tuesday in a victory over Propel Braddock Hills, scored 28 the next day in a 65-49 loss at Summit Academy, then lit up the scoreboard for 36 points in a Friday loss at Sto-Rox. The Flames’ season and Randall’s scholastic career end Monday against Nazareth Prep.
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.