C.J. Ziegler, Zach Keib spark Brentwood boys in December

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Friday, December 27, 2019 | 6:04 PM


Brentwood coach Dan Thayer was pleased, as expected.

The Spartans won twice in the Brentwood tip-off tournament to claim this year’s boys championship.

“This was an excellent way to start the season,” Thayer said. “We were very happy with the results. It has been a long time since we’ve won the tip-off tournament.

“We played both games like early season games. We were sloppy on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. That can be expected this early in the season. Hopefully, we can use these two games to learn from.”

Brentwood zipped past Northgate, 86-67, in the first round, as senior guards C.J. Ziegler (23) and Zach Keib (20) combined for 43 points.

Riley Brendel, a junior forward, and Chase Rosing, a junior guard, added 14 and 12.

“We were able to get out and run,” Thayer said. “We were in control of the game throughout.”

The Spartans stopped Carrick cold in the first half of the championship game, but then were forced to rally to a 44-39 win in the fourth quarter.

Ziegler, who was named tournament MVP, netted 15 points.

“We weren’t able to run like we wanted,” Thayer said. “Carrick was able to control the tempo of the game. Even so, we controlled much of the game. We had a nice lead at the end of the third quarter, but we went extremely cold in the fourth.

“After making a few defensive stops, we made enough free throws at the end of the game to hold on for the victory.”

Ziegler ended up with 38 points, seven assists and five steals in the two-day event. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Keib (29 points, four steals), Carrick juniors Daivon Christmas (16 points, 13 rebounds, five steals) and Amary Caldwell (27 points, four assists), and Northgate senior Raylan Whetsell (30 points, 17 rebounds, eight steals).

Brentwood opened Section 2-2A action with a tight 50-48 win against Jeannette and a lopsided victory at Bentworth, 89-42, to go to 5-0 overall.

Ziegler, Keib, senior guard/forward Jayneil Latham, and senior forwards John Milcic and Ian Thomas are returning starters for the Spartans.

“We are a veteran team,” Thayer said. “We have 15 players returning from last season’s (11-12) playoff team. Building on what we were able to do last season, we feel we should be one of the top teams in our section. If that is the case, we would qualify for the playoffs again this season.

“The team has looked good so far. We have been able to change the focus this season with such a veteran team. We have been focusing on our defensive effort and finishing plays, and also on our transition offense and defense.”

Rosing, Brendel, senior guards A.J. McPherson and Shane Lesko and sophomore forward Mitchell Fox are top reserves for the Spartans.

Miller, Daly named all-tourney

West Mifflin took first place in the Brentwood girls tip-off tournament, defeating defending champion Brentwood, 56-42, in the finals.

The Titans advanced to the championship game with a 71-34 victory against Steel Valley.

Junior Lauren Yuhas accounted for 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight steals and six assists in the two-day event and was voted girls MVP.

West Mifflin junior Shelby Genes (33 points, 18 rebounds, five steals) and senior Ayi Adams (23 points, eight rebounds) joined Yuhas on the all-tournament team.

Brentwood rolled past Northgate, 62-38, in the first round.

“I thought we played well after we settled down,” Brentwood coach Rachel Thomas said. “We are a young team that lost a tremendous amount of leadership and experience. Once the girls settled down, they began to execute very well.”

Junior forward Paige Miller (30 points, 24 rebounds) and sophomore guard Maura Daly (25 points, 11 rebounds) of Brentwood were all-tournament selections.

“Paige’s height was a clear advantage and we were able to capitalize on that,” Thomas said.

The Brentwood girls lost all five starters to graduation from last year’s WPIAL Class 2A runner-up squad.

“This team is very young and inexperienced,” Thomas said. “They have a lot of heart and have been working hard on fundamentals and getting a good team rhythm together.

“We’ve focused a lot on fundamentals and our timing and execution. These girls work hard and are ready to put the work in to be successful. I believe we can be competitive in our section.”

Along with Miller and Daly, key players on this year’s team include senior guard Maddi Travis, junior guard Taylor Davis, sophomore forward Jaelynn Lindahl and sophomore guard Hannah Fornear.

“Maura and Maddi have the most experience at the varsity level,” Thomas said. ” I expect two freshmen (guards), Brianna Folino and Jenna Yee, to get some quality varsity minutes. Jaelynn, Brianna and Jenna have played really well coming off the bench.

The Spartans will open the 2020 portion of their schedule Jan. 2 at home in a section game against Jeannette.

“I look forward to watching these girls come together and play good basketball,” Thomas said.

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