Boasting lineup with size, experience, Bethel Park boys expect successful season

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Saturday, December 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Height isn’t an issue for the Bethel Park boys basketball team.

At least not when 6-foot-4 junior Tanner Pfeuffer and 6-6 senior Paul Digbeu are paired together in the frontcourt along with 6-3 senior forward Shawn Davis.

“We want to continue building on what was started last season and continue to improve and compete,” said Bethel Park’s second-year coach Dante Calabria. “We are looking forward to competing this season.”

The athletic Pfeuffer has returned to the Black Hawks basketball program after taking a few years off from the sport. He is a two-year starting quarterback on the football team.

“Our expectations for the year are to play our game, win a section championship and make a deep run in the playoffs,” Pfeuffer said. “It feels great to be back and playing basketball again.”

Other team members with valuable varsity playing experience include Davis, senior guards Nick Brown and Mike Mathias and junior guard Jack Brucker, all returning starters.

“I feel the team is very confident this year,” Bruckner said. “We have a team goal to win the section championship and make a run in the WPIAL playoffs.

“We have much more depth than last year and have the ability to play more people in our rotation. We have eight to 10 guys that see significant playing time.”

Calabria also can count on freshman Joseph Parisi, senior guard/forward Connor Karabinos and junior guard Marty Devine to make contributions when on the floor.

Calabria has enjoyed a legendary basketball career. He is a 1992 Blackhawk graduate and 2014 WPIAL Hall of Fame inductee.

As a 6-5 guard, Calabria was a member of the North Carolina men’s team that won the NCAA championship in 1993 and reached the Final Four in ’95.

He played for Dean Smith at UNC, was an assistant on Larry Brown’s staff in Italy and assisted the late Rollie Massimino at Keiser University in Florida.

Calabria played 16 professional seasons overseas in Italy, Spain, Greece and France.

“We are very fortunate as a school and community to have such an amazing leader and basketball mind as the head of our team,” Bruckner said. “Coach Calabria is as interested in turning our players into future leaders and successes in life as much as being successful basketball players.”

Bethel Park is a member of Section 1-5A along with Connellsville, Peters Township, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson and Trinity. Peters Township is the defending section champion and advanced to the WPIAL finals last year.

Bethel Park, seeded No. 10, lost a first-round decision to No. 7 Mars in the WPIAL playoffs last season to finish 12-9 overall.

Bruckner said Peters Township is the team to beat in the section.

“Definitely Peters,” he said. “They were the second-place team in the WPIAL last year. We lost to them for the section championship. TJ is also a quality team and has very good players.”

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