Geibel boys seeking 1st PIAA playoff victory in 36 years

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020 | 10:43 PM


By the time the Geibel boys basketball team opens the PIAA Class A tournament Friday against Berlin Brothersvalley at Pitt-Johnstown, more than two weeks will have passed since the Gators last saw the floor in a competitive setting.

Their last game was a 99-51 loss to eventual WPIAL champion Vincentian Academy in the district quarterfinals. It wasn’t exactly the way the Gators had hoped their WPIAL playoff run would end, but with a lot of recent down time, the players have had the chance to get refocused on the state tournament.

“The positive side of the long layoff is that we were able to rest our legs and get rid of a lot of bumps and bruises,” Geibel coach Don Porter said. “We’re coming into the game healthy. The downside (to the long layoff) is trying to keep their attention.”

To help the team get re-energized for states, Porter gave his team a little in-season vacation.

“We took a whole week off,” Porter said. “We let everyone kind of hit the reset button and now we’re excited about our matchup.”

The Gators (15-9) come into the state tournament as the WPIAL’s fifth seed and they’ll face a Berlin Brothersvalley team that has won seven in a row, including a 64-38 victory over Shade in the District 5 championship game. The Mountaineers (26-1) have a lot of impressive weapons, according to Porter.

Porter singled out Berlin Brothersvalley junior point guard Elijah Sechler as a player who can run his team’s offense while junior forwards Wil Spochart and Abe Countryman bring plenty of size and talent in the paint.

“They are more of a motion offense, and we like to spread the floor and attack,” Porter said.

The Gators feature a senior-heavy squad that relies on talented guards Enzo Fetsko and Cole Kendall. Both are 1,000-point scorers that can put up big numbers.

Fetsko is a well-rounded point guard who can shoot from the outside or drive to the basket. Kendall connects on a number of his looks from the outside. Fellow seniors Ryan Anderson and Isaiah Krizner are also capable of delivering in big moments, as is sophomore Drew Howard and freshman Jaydis Kennedy.

“I think we match up well with them,” Porter said.

The Gators’ last victory was monumental for the program. Geibel’s 65-58 win over Leechburg in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs was the team’s first postseason win in 15 years. Now, the Gators have a chance to pick up the program’s first state tournament win in 36 years.

“The last time we won a (state) playoff game was 1984,” Porter said. “I told our kids we have a chance to build even more history. To win a state playoff game would be pretty impressive.”

The fact that the Gators are in the state tournament is a nice accomplishment in and of itself. Porter reported that there are 1,501 high school boys basketball teams in the state. He’s proud that his team is one of just 192 still playing at this stage of the season.

“If you’re playing in March, you’re pretty good,” Porter said.

Tip-off for Friday’s game is at 8 p.m.

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