Derry boys basketball team eyes step forward after down season

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 4:19 PM


Things are looking up for the Derry boys basketball team.

After a disappointing season in 2021-22 that saw the Trojans finish 6-13 overall and 1-11 in Section 1 (Class 4A), veteran coach Tom Esposito has his team looking to turn things around.

Esposito begins his 25th season as coach, 16th at Derry.

“We returned only one player with varsity experience in Tyson (Webb),” Esposito said. “We played a lot of underclassmen who learned quickly about varsity basketball. We also played in a very tough section that was loaded with teams that had three or four and sometimes five starters returning.

“But this has been the best offseason I’ve had at Derry. Our summer workouts were devoted to working on their skills and getting stronger in the weight room. The returning players and freshmen bought in to what we were teaching.”

Derry returns four starters: junior point guard Brady Angus, senior guard Gabe Carbonara, junior guard Nate Papuga and senior forward Ethan Frye.

Esposito said if the three guards feed off each other, the team will be much improved. But he calls the 6-foot-4 Frye the glue of the team.

“He’s very athletic and is tough to defend,” Esposito said. “I’m excited to see how much we’ve improved.”

Other players Esposito is counting on include senior guard Ashton Beighley, junior forward Colin Bush and sophomore point guard John Wasnick.

“There are other varsity jerseys up for grabs,” Esposito said. “We’ll have to see who is ready to grab one.”

Derry moved to a new section and will face the likes of Shady Side Academy, Ligonier Valley, Valley, Burrell, Deer Lakes and Apollo-Ridge.

“I’m looking forward to the new section because we’re playing against schools with similar enrollment as ours,” Esposito said. “I’m sure Shady Side Academy would be the favorite.”

Derry didn’t play in any summer leagues. Esposito opted to let the players participate in other sports and encouraged them to work on their skills.

The Trojans did play in a fall league at Greensburg Central Catholic.

“We did OK,” Esposito said. “There are a lot of good teams in the county.”

This is Esposito’s second stint at Derry. He previously coached at Blairsville and Homer-Center. His first stint at Derry was from 1999 to 2006. He returned to 2015.

“I love coaching the Derry kids because they work hard and don’t take time off,” Esposito said. “They are passionate and respectful. I’m excited and optimistic about the season.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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