After strong start, Sewickley Academy boys look ahead to section play

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Sunday, January 7, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Sewickley Academy’s boys basketball team closed out the month of December most impressively.

The Panthers won four consecutive games and six of seven down the month’s home stretch. Their only loss during this time was a tense one-point decision Dec. 8 to Serra Catholic.

The Panthers followed up with victories against Eden Christian, 42-41; Carrick, 65-60; and Laurel Highlands, 59-55, and Union, 53-35, at the Holiday Bash at North Allegheny and Geneva College.

“We are very pleased with the start of this season and the response by all players,” said Jim Dudas, SA’s first-year coach. “These young men are dedicated and driven. They work extremely hard in practice and that paid off with results over the first eight games.”

Sewickley took a 6-2 overall record into the new year.

Section play began Jan. 2 at Northgate followed by a home game Jan. 5 against Aliquippa. Sewickley is a member of Section 1-2A.

“Both teams were in the WPIAL finals last year and return the majority of their players,” Dudas said.

Sewickley’s first-year floor boss was optimistic his team would show significant improvement on both sides of the ball this season.

And it has.

The Panthers averaged 55.6 ppg while allowing just 47.2 ppg — one of the top defensive averages in Class 2A — through eight games.

The team’s leading scorers were 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Lucas Grimsley, who averaged almost 15 ppg, and 6-4 junior guard/forward Nolan Donnelly, at 10 ppg.

Donnelly was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder last year, averaging double figures in both categories.

Four other players added another six points per game, consisting of 6-3 guard Amare Spencer, 5-6 point guard Caiden Battles, and two top freshman prospects, True Robinson and Garang Garang, who have provided both rebounding and scoring punch.

“There is good balance to our offense and unselfish play, which has been instrumental to our success,” Dudas said.

Northgate defeated the Panthers, 52-38, to go to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in section. The Flames’ two losses were to Class 6A powerhouses New Castle and Butler.

Grimsley led SA with 18 points.

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