Boys basketball preview: Large senior class set to guide Cheswick Christian

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020 | 3:50 PM


When veteran Cheswick Christian Academy boys basketball coach Todd Rosio assessed his team’s 2019-20 season, he saw improvement from the players but knew they were not satisfied with their record.

“The team is looking to take a step forward this year,” said Rosio, who enters his 27th season at the helm of the Chargers.

Cheswick went 8-13 overall and lost to Plants and Pillars in the quarterfinals of the Southwest Christian Athletic Conference playoffs.

“We were at or above .500 for most of last season before a late-season swoon where we dropped a few games,” Rosio said. “The guys were looking for bigger things, but I think they saw there were a lot of good things to build on for this year.”

The current schedule, with 12 regular-season games before the conference playoffs, tentatively will begin Dec. 18 with a game at First Baptist (Butler). January’s schedule is expected to start with a matchup at rival Cornerstone Christian Prep (West Mifflin).

“(The year) 2020 has been so crazy. You don’t even know what to expect anymore about anything,” Rosio said. “This all could be a real drag, but not one of the kids has complained one time. Right now, they have a great attitude and are just happy to be back in practice and have that opportunity to prepare for a season.”

Rosio will turn to a group of seven seniors. Two of them, Jesse Radvansky (forward) and Kassius Clay (guard), are returning starters.

The other seniors — Noah Bach, Josh Harris, Zack Kosor, Cole Szramowski and newcomer Spencer Hauber — form the core of the squad.

“This senior group has paid their dues, worked hard and waited for this opportunity,” Rosio said. “Each one is hoping for a chance to do big things personally and also contribute to more team success. As they built year by year, they are hoping to make this season their best.”

A third returning starter is junior Zephaniah “Zooky” Malloy, who averaged 3.7 points and 5.4 rebounds last year.

Graduation took Cheswick’s top scorers from last season, Jerry Vargo (11.1) and Andrew Drake (9.5). Vargo also had a team-best 60 assists (3.0 apg.), and Drake led the team in steals (48).

Radvansky, an all-conference selection, is the team’s top rebounder. The 6-footer finished last season averaging 10 reboundsto go with an 8.1 scoring average. He also was a force in the paint with 35 blocks.

“I think he’s improved both his game and physically from his junior season,” Rosio said. “Every year, he’s bigger, stronger and faster. He really wants to go out with his biggest year yet. We’ll look to him, of course, for his rebounding but also look for him to increase his scoring.”

Grant Rochkind, who made his mark last year as an eighth-grader, tied Radvansky for the top scoring average among the returning players (8.1). He also averaged 4.4 rebounds over his 16 appearances.

Rochkind had to sit out games against WPIAL opponents Aquinas Academy and Trinity Christian in deference to WPIAL rules that do not permit eighth-graders to play in varsity or JV games.

“Grant can score, and he’s also a mature player mentally,” Rosio said. “He sees the floor well, and he understands the game. He’s definitely ready for a bigger role for us this year.”

The team’s lone sophomore, Jude Vargo, hopes to increase his minutes and production, and freshmen Asa Boston and Ryan Anchors are eager to contribute.

“We’re trying to keep it all in perspective,” Rosio said of the upcoming season against the backdrop of ongoing covid concerns. “We’re all just hoping right now that everything works out to where we can have a full season.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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