Cheswick Christian chasing 1st SWCAC boys basketball title since 2015

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Friday, February 24, 2023 | 3:50 PM


Cheswick Christian Academy enters Saturday night’s Southwestern Christian Athletic Conference (SWCAC) boys basketball championship game on a roll.

“We’re on a five-game winning streak right now, and we’ve won 13 of 14 games,” said Chargers coach Todd Rosio, whose team takes on Harvest Baptist Academy at 7 p.m. in the playoff final at Beaver County Christian School.

Rosio is looking for that momentum to help carry Cheswick Christian (18-6) to its first SWCAC title since 2015.

“You always want to go in riding on a wave of success. That increases everyone’s confidence, and confidence is gigantic in sports,” he said.

Cheswick Christian and Harvest Academy finished tied for first place in SWCAC’s Greater Pittsburgh division with 5-1 records. The teams split their two regular-season meetings, with Harvest winning the first game, 56-40, and Cheswick taking the rematch, 60-52. Harvest received a higher playoff seed because of point differential in head-to-head play.

“We feel we’ve improved a lot from the game we lost at their place,” Rosio said. “We came out of that game and thought we have a lot of things that we need to work on. A loss exposes those weaknesses. We got to work and improved in a lot of ways.”

After the Harvest loss, Cheswick went on an eight-game winning streak, dropped a one-point decision and now has rattled off five in a row. The Chargers are coming off a 43-33 victory over Pittsburgh Christian Academy in the playoff semifinals.

Grant Rochkind averages 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Cheswick. The 6-foot-3 junior busted loose for 28 points and 20 rebounds against Pittsburgh Christian.

“Grant was the one guy in the semis who had it going for us,” Rosio said. “More often, we have three or four guys who are going to get around double-digit scoring.”

Rochkind is joined in the Chargers’ starting lineup by seniors Vincent Gibbs and Ayden Phillips, junior Sean Louis and freshman Joe Rosio. Grant’s brother, freshman Brady Rochkind, is typically the first player off the bench.

“We’re a group that moves and shares the ball well,” Todd Rosio said. “We have a lot of different people who can score. There are a variety of things on offense that we do. Defensively, we sort of just morph to fit the needs of the situation. We don’t have one specific defensive style that we play. We sort of play whatever is to our advantage for that particular matchup.”

From 2015-17, Cheswick played in three consecutive SWCAC finals behind 6-foot-10 center Ben Pollock. The Chargers won the 2015 title and finished runner-up the next two years.

“This year’s team is one of the most balanced that I’ve had,” said Rosio, who’s been head coach since 1994. “It’s been fun to coach them. We have kids who can penetrate, and we have some shooters. We have some strong defensive players. A lot of different people have found a role. It’s fun to put all those puzzle pieces together.”

Rosio also is relishing the opportunity to pursue a title with his son, Joe, in the lineup.

“It’s fun to do it with my son on the team after 30 years of coaching other people’s kids,” he said with a laugh. “It’s fun to finally have my own kid as part of it.”

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