Boys basketball preview: Jeannette has deep, experienced roster, hopes to avoid slow start

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Sunday, November 29, 2020 | 7:25 PM


If the Jeannette boys basketball team can duplicate the success of the football team, then the Jayhawks could be looking at a long season.

That’s what veteran coach Adrian Batts is hoping for. The elder statesman of Section 3-2A is looking forward to the season.

With four starters returning, a deep bench and one of the tallest players in the WPIAL, 6-foot-9 senior Hunter Schmidt, on the roster, the Jayhawks look to erase the sour taste left after a second-round playoff loss to Shenango ended their 2019-20 season.

The Jeannette football team won its 10th WPIAL title and fell just short of a third PIAA title Friday.

“We have a lot of football players on the roster that had a very successful season,” Batts said. “Hopefully, that carries over to basketball. It usually does.”

The returning starters are seniors Toby Cline, Jimmy Sanders and Keith Rockmore and junior Anton Good. Cline is a three-year starter, and Rockmore and Good are two-year starters.

Rockmore averaged 11 points per game, Good 10 and Cline 9. Leading scorer Jackson Pruitt, 17 a game, is playing football at Youngstown State.

Jeannette will have its first practice Tuesday, and its first game is scheduled for Dec. 17 against Bishop Canevin.

“A lot of teams don’t have a 6-9 player,” Batts said. “We’re hoping Hunter will give us an edge. We can’t just rely on him to rebound. We have a lot length of the team. The other key is our depth. We can go 10, 11 deep.”

When he gets healthy, freshman Brad Birch will see a lot of playing time along with sophomores Shane Mickens, Jaydin Canady and Noah Sanders and juniors Basil Wilson and Louis Calloway.

Jeannette will have some familiar foes in its section. The other teams in Section 3-2A are Greensburg Central Catholic, Serra, Clairton, Propel of Braddock Hills and Winchester Thurston.

“Out trips got a lot shorter, and the competition is strong,” Batts said. “GCC has two good seniors back. Clairton has athletes, and Serra always has good players.”

Jeannette started the 2019-20 season 1-6, but Batts hopes history doesn’t repeat.

“We’re a notoriously slow starter,” Batts said. “We won 10 in a row after the slow start. We were playing our best basketball when we got to the playoffs. But a bad matchup and a 14-day layoff hurt us. We looked like we were playing in cement shoes against Shenango.”

If Jeannette is as hot at the end of the season as it was a year ago, Batts anticipates a deep playoff run.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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