Carlynton, Bishop Canevin, Chartiers Valley boys teams ready to get on winning track
By: Chuck Curti
Thursday, December 6, 2018 | 9:30 PM
Of the three area boys basketball teams, only Carlynton made the playoffs in 2017-18. But all three, Chartiers Valley, Bishop Canevin and the Cougars, had losing records in their respective sections and overall.
New coaches at Char Valley and Bishop Canevin will try to rectify that, and at Carlynton, Mike Kozy, in the seventh year of his second stint with the Cougars, will try to lead his team above the .500 mark.
A look at each of the teams:
The Crusaders’ new coach isn’t completely new. Gino Palmosina was the JV coach the past three seasons, and he was hired to take over the varsity after Kevin Trost moved on to Seneca Valley.
Bishop Canevin is coming off a five-win season — 4-10 in Section 3-2A — and Palmosina said that didn’t sit well with the returning players.
“Last year, our guys won five games. They have used that as motivation to change things around here,” he said.
The Crusaders are led by three returning players: 6-foot-3 senior guard/forward Aiden Logan, sophomore guard Nevan Crossey and junior point guard Nate Kirsch. Palmosina will be looking for each to add a dimension to his game.
Logan, he said, has worked on using his size to score inside more. Crossey, an accurate 3-point shooter, is being called upon to improve his defense. For Kirsch, it’s the opposite: He has excelled on defense but will be asked to score more.
Freshman point guard Kevaughn Price is expected to play significant minutes, and the roster also will be bolstered by senior transfer Dahvie Montgomery, an athletic, 6-3 wing player.
“He can really get to the hoop, which will help open our shooters up,” Palmosina said.
While Palmosina is confident his team will have enough offensive firepower, he is stressing sound defense.
That, he said, will be the key to contending in the section and beyond.
The Cougars went 8-14 last season, 3-7 in Section 2-3A. And while the section record was less than impressive, it was good enough to tie for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Kozy’s team won a play-in game against Brownsville before being routed by eventual WPIAL champion Lincoln Park in the first round.
Carlynton returns a pair of junior starters, DeQuay Canton and Chauncie Mickens, to spearhead this season’s quest for improvement. But a host of other capable juniors and seniors give the Cougars a solid core group: seniors Maclaine Greiner and Dan Schultz and juniors Morgan Ault and Mark Phillips.
Best of all, the juniors and seniors have a long history of playing together, so team chemistry should be a plus.
“This group of players has been together since elementary school,” Kozy said. “It’s been fun watching them grow and develop as individuals and as a team.”
Carlynton has a tough road competing in Section 2-3A, which includes North Catholic, Avonworth, Seton LaSalle and Keystone Oaks.
With six-time WPIAL champion Tim McConnell moving over to coach the Colts girls team, Brandon Sensor was hired to oversee the boys team. His goal will be to get CV back to the playoffs after their uncharacteristic absence last season.
A graduate of East Allegheny, he cut his coaching teeth in Florida, leading Cape Coral to the state Class 7A semifinals last season. Now, he is eager to see what he can do back in the Pittsburgh area.
“Great school. Great parents. All that stuff,” he said. “They’re just good kids. They’re coachable, positive. I haven’t dealt with a bad attitude yet.”
The Colts went 8-14 last season, including 4-8 in Section 2-5A. Sensor said he has a foundation in place for his players, but it might take until about midseason before they hit their stride.
His cause will be helped by having one of the top shooting guards in the classification, 6-2 senior Joe Pipilo. He averaged nearly 20 points last season, and Sensor expects more of the same.
What makes Sensor happier is how Pipilo has worked to improve his defense.
“The knock on him when I came in, at least from what I heard, was he couldn’t defend,” Sensor said. “But he’s doing an adequate job for us. He’s gotten better and playing good defense.”
Sensor also will rely heavily on junior Sean Banas and junior Jared Goldstrom. Banas gives the Colts a physical presence inside, and Goldstrom uses his athleticism to be a force on both ends of the floor.
Replacing such a highly regarded, highly successful coach never is easy. Sensor, however, said he believes he is striking the right chord with the Colts. In fact, some of what he preaches to his team sounds familiar.
“Obviously, everybody’s goal is to win a state championship,” he said. “But our goal is to get this team to play to the best of its ability.
“I want everybody who plays us to say, ‘Chartiers Valley plays hard,’ and I don’t want them to want to play us again.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.