Cheswick Christian Academy boys vie for 1st SWCAC title since 2015

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Friday, February 23, 2024 | 3:03 PM


The last time the Cheswick Christian boys basketball team won a Southwest Christian Athletic Conference championship was in 2015 when it captured the second of back-to-back league crowns.

Since then, the Chargers have played for the title three times, most recently last season when they fell to Natrona Heights’ Harvest Baptist in the championship game.

Cheswick is back in the SWCAC title game Saturday, and the 19-3 Chargers will face a familiar foe in division rival Pittsburgh Christian.

Opening tip is 5 p.m. at Beaver County Christian School.

“We know each other pretty well, so we’re just looking forward to another opportunity to play those guys,” Cheswick coach Todd Rosio said.

Cheswick Christian and Pittsburgh Christian split their regular-season series and shared the Greater Pittsburgh Division title with 7-1 records.

The Chargers earned the No. 1 seed over Pittsburgh Christian based on the point-differential comparison in each team’s victory over the other during division play.

“Pittsburgh Christian has a lot of good athletes on their team,” said Rosio, whose team beat Pittsburgh Christian in last year’s SWCAC semifinals to punch its ticket to the championship game against Harvest.

“They’re quick and have multiple guys who can score the ball.”

The Chargers have won seven in a row since their setback to Pittsburgh Christian on Jan. 30.

That streak of wins includes a 14-point triumph at St. Joseph on Feb. 12 behind 24 points and 11 rebounds from senior forward Grant Rochkind, 17 points from sophomore Brady Rochkind and 10 more from senior forward Sean Louis.

Cheswick outscored St. Joseph by 10 in the second half to pull away from a four-point halftime advantage.

“The guys feel really good about their chances on Saturday,” Rosio said. “That loss to Pittsburgh Christian really seemed to light a fire under us. Sometimes a loss can really help you. You don’t like it while it happens, but it can really allow you to refocus on some things you might have been taking for granted.

“We came off of that loss and have really been playing super since then. Our only close game since the loss was the game at St. Joseph, and we won by 14. We’ve really been on a good streak. The guys have been playing so well. They’ve taken their games to another level.”

The only other losses Cheswick suffered this season were to Aquinas Academy at the Aquinas Tournament in early December and to Springdale four days before Christmas.

The Chargers also swept two games from the WPIAL’s Geibel.

As the No. 1 seed, Cheswick opened the SWCAC playoffs Tuesday with a quarterfinal matchup against East Liverpool Christian School at Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf’s gym in Edgewood.

Grant Rochkind led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Brady Rochkind scored 17 and sophomore guard Joseph Rosio contributed 15 points in the 66-33 victory.

The Chargers won at Harvest Baptist by 22 and at home by eight during division play. Thursday’s rematch with Harvest in the semifinals at Portersville Christian School was not as close as the two regular-season meetings.

Cheswick led by 20 after the first quarter and by 36 at halftime before finishing off a 66-38 victory.

Louis fronted the Chargers’ offensive attack with 18, Joseph Rosio added 16, Grant Rochkind tallied 15 points and Brady Rochkind rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10.

“We just played lights out against Harvest,” Coach Rosio said. “We had only beaten them by eight a month ago. We expected (Thursday’s) game to be competitive, but again, we just played at a whole other level. ”

Pittsburgh Christian advanced to the title game by edging Portersville Christian, 54-51.

The season for Cheswick Christian doesn’t end with Saturday’s championship game.

The SWCAC will sponsor a tournament next weekend, Feb. 29 to March 2, for team members in grades 10 and younger at Portersville Christian.

“My son and Brady Rochkind will be a part of that tournament,” Coach Rosio said. “Joseph and Brady are kind of our third and fourth guys. Now, they will get the chance to be one and two. The guys on the team who are like eight, nine and 10 guys now get a chance to start.”

The entire team will regroup and play at a National Christian School Athletic Association tournament at Mt. Vernon University in Ohio on March 7-9.

More than 100 teams attend the tournament each year, and each team is placed in a tier bracket based on competitive level.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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