Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball returns plenty

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Thursday, November 17, 2022 | 10:06 PM


Greensburg Central Catholic will open boys basketball practice Friday with no starters.

Sure, there are three players who appeared regularly in the starting five last season, but fourth-year coach Christian Hyland is not labeling them as first-stringers just yet.

“Everything is on the table,” Hyland said. “The guys who compete and play the hardest, and give us the best chance to win, are going to (start).”

GCC finished 19-5 last year and won the Section 3-2A title before reaching the WPIAL semifinals, where it lost to powerhouse Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 77-42.

The Centurions went two rounds in the PIAA playoffs, winning a thriller against Conemaugh Township (62-60) before falling to Ridgway (59-53).

Turner was the catalyst in a lot of those wins and he returns to run the point, with the possibility of playing off-guard because of the team’s depth.

“Tyree is probably the guy we’re most comfortable with,” Hyland said. “He has played in some big games and hit some big shots. He’s seen just about everything you can see as a sophomore.”

And Hyland has seen just about all he can see as a coach. The GCC alum is 51-16 leading his alma mater and guided the team to the WPIAL finals in 2020.

“The kids know what is expected of them,” Hyland said. “They know we want them to do things at a high level.”

GCC has scoring to replace with Brevan Williams (Carlow) and Ryan Appleby (Seton Hill) gone.

Juniors Franco Alvarez and Anthony Semelka also started last year and will look to help fill the void.

Alvarez is a 6-foot-5 forward who brings a true post presence and a rebounding edge.

“There were games where he was downright dominant,” Hyland said. “He has great hands and feet. When he gets the ball in the post he’s hard to stop.”

GCC played a short rotation last year, but Hyland expects the bench to grow and strengthen the overall unit.

“We had some guys make great progress over the summer,” Hyland said. Junior guards Liam Gallagher, Sean Walker, Braden Riley and Brady O’Rourke saw significant time in the fall and should figure into the longer rotation.

Newcomer Samir Crosby could be a difference maker, just as the fast-rising freshman was in football.

“He is a heck of an athlete, and he’s so fast,” Hyland said.

Speaking of football players, two others are joining the basketball team in seniors Ryan Kimmel (6-2, 225 pounds) and Jaydin Canady.

“They haven’t played since they were at Jeannette,” Hyland said. “But they can help us. Ryan has a good basketball mind and sees the court well. Jaydin hasn’t played in a couple years. He’s really fast and can get to the hoop.”

Additional players looking to provide off the bench include senior Ja’ron Brown-Williams, senior George Rodriguez and sophomore Ty Rozier.

Jeannette, Clairton, Leechburg, Riverview, Serra Catholic and Springdale will join GCC in Section 3.

The Centurions open the season Dec. 2 against Penn-Trafford at the 18th annual Hempfield Tip-Off Tournament.

Their nonsection schedule also includes Franklin Regional, Hempfield, Bishop Guilfoyle, Geibel, Berlin Brothersvalley, Ligonier Valley and Latrobe.

Greensburg Central Catholic boys at a glance

Coach: Christian Hyland

Last year’s record: 19-5 (9-1 Section 3-2A)

Returning starters: Franco Alvarez (Sr., F); Anthony Semelka (Jr., G/F); Tyree Turner (Jr., G)

Top newcomers: Jaydin Canady (Sr., G), Samir Crosby (Fr., G), Ryan Kimmel (Sr., F)

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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