Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball riding wave of confidence

Thursday, January 20, 2022 | 4:44 PM

Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball players fling up half-court shots as a recent practice draws to a close.

The atmosphere is fun. It’s loose. But it’s also competitive — very competitive.

Just about every Centurion thinks he can make it.

That’s what happens when roles get elevated and a wave of confidence follows.

“We have a lot more versatility because more guys are stepping up for us,” coach Christian Hyland said. “You look at guys like Ryan (Appleby) and even Brevan (Williams), they were playing inside 90% of the time.”

Two players, in particular, have made giant leaps. Appleby, a senior guard/forward, and sophomore point guard Tyree Turner are playing key roles. Their importance to the team’s success has paralleled that of Williams, the reigning Trib Westmoreland player of the year.

Williams still is one of the top scorers in Class 2A, where the Centurions (9-1) are ranked No. 2 behind Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the team they lost to in last year’s WPIAL championship.

But Appleby and Turner have been better than complementary players. They’ve been go-to players in certain situations — on both ends of the floor.

“I thought I could come in and be a leader,” Appleby said. “I didn’t think it would happen as much defensively. But I am often guarding the other team’s best player. I worked on my game a lot in the offseason. I think we’re a little better than we were last year.”

Appleby, who also plays soccer and baseball for GCC, played in the summer CJ2K League in the South Hills and was the MVP of the playoffs.

“Ryan has made the most significant jump,” Hyland said. “He has become so much more aggressive.”

Said senior guard Dylan Parsons: “Ryan is a senior and doesn’t have to defer to anyone. Tyree was coming off the bench last year but has taken on Christian McGowan’s role this year.”

Then there is Turner, who has shown explosiveness off the dribble and leadership qualities beyond his years.

He also is the quarterback of the football team, which he and Hyland believe has aided his growth.

“I have learned how to control the tempo of the game,” Turner said. “That is comparable to football. We like to run a lot more (in basketball), so it’s fun to get out and go.”

When Section 3-leading GCC rallied for a second-half comeback to beat Jeannette, 63-43, Turner had 13 of his 20 points in the third quarter.

Williams had 26 in that game.

Williams was averaging 20.3 points, Appleby 11.9 and Turner 11.5. Williams was shooting a sharp 67% from the field and also pulling down 6.8 rebounds. Turner was producing 5.4 assists a game.

GCC does like to run. A fast-paced style — watch out when they’re sharing the ball and getting good looks — have topped 70 points five times. They beat Propel Braddock Hills, 87-45, and ran past Serra Catholic, 73-59.

But Williams said offense is secondary. Scoring gets a booster from the team’s play on the other end of the floor.

“We have really focused on defense, and Ryan and Tyree have played big roles,” Williams said. “They’re our two best defenders.”

Williams, Turner and Appleby all mentioned the strong play of reserve forward Anthony Semelka, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who joins senior Garrett Sherwin in the frontcourt.

“Semelka is the dirty-work guy,” Parsons said.

Another sophomore, 6-5 Franco Alvarez, has started all season and gives GCC a true post player, which allows Williams and Appleby to roam more freely in the offense. Alvarez scored 18 against Serra Catholic.

Williams and Appleby have the green light to shoot 3-pointers. That light last year was red to the occasional yellow.

There might be no stopping the Centurions in their quest to play team basketball and chase rings.

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


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