Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Team of the Week: Winchester Thurston Bears
The Trib HSSN Team of the Week ended the regular season last week with three victories to extend its winning streak and finish in first place in Section 1-2A — the Winchester Thurston Bears.
The chase for the section crown was a hectic one with five teams separated by as few as one and a half games. But the Bears’ three section wins earned them the school’s first boys basketball section championship.
“At the beginning of the year we had each kid talk about their goals, and many were to win the section for the first time, and it came to fruition,” third-year coach Jordan Marks said. “We have talked about building a program, and the seniors were the foundation for it.”
The final week started with a trip to Apollo-Ridge where Dusan Krivokapic scored 23 points and Langston Moses added 13 as the Bears won 48-40.
On Friday, Jake Rabner led Winchester Thurston with 18 points in a 57-43 win over Summit Academy that clinched a share of the section title.
“Our crowd was standing room only for Summit, and the boys thrived in that environment,” Marks said.
The outright title came Saturday when Krivokapic exploded for 34 points in the Bears’ celebratory 82-32 rout of Riverview.
“Defensively, the guys play a lot of man-to-man defense, and we talked about flying around and having to help and help the helper, and they have bought in,” Marks said about his team’s play last week. “We can switch 1-5 mostly, and it causes a lot of issues for offenses. We always talk about one stop at a time, one bucket at a time. They never get too high or too low, and that’s valuable.”
While the defense has helped Winchester Thurston win 16 of 21 games, Marks said the offense has done its share for the Bears’ successful season.
“Dusan has been a top five WPIAL player, and we have Jake Rabner shooting at such a high level. Langston Moses having double-doubles as a freshman, like he’s supposed to.”
This historic campaign hasn’t always been smooth sailing as Winchester Thurston was sitting at 7-5 overall in mid-January. The Bears finished the season with nine straight wins.
“Offensively, playing more unselfish and penetrating to pass was key for us,” Marks said about his team’s streak to the regular season finish line. “Most importantly, defensively they have given everything they have. Whatever defense we play, they play and execute and playing unselfish has led us to be a compete team.”
Another early season goal was for this program to win that elusive first WPIAL playoff game after going one-and-done the last five years.
“As coaches we always reiterate they can beat anyone,” Marks said. “If they play unselfish and are five strong on defense, they can beat anyone. We have eight guys that can contribute and score a lot, and we have great leadership.”
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.