Highlands senior Dom Pesci excited for return after missing most of junior season

Saturday, January 9, 2021 | 7:36 PM

When the Highlands boys basketball team won its first WPIAL basketball title since 1995 last season, the Rams did so with three talented seniors and several important role players who clicked when the time was right.

Current senior Dom Pesci was forced to watch from the bench because he missed most of the season with symptoms from a concussion that he suffered during his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t allowed to really do anything,” Pesci said. “I couldn’t go off of a rope swing. My eyes were all messed up. I was seeing double for a couple months. It changed a lot for me.”

So, Pesci did what he could. He showed up to practice, helped out however possible and when game day came, he sat on the bench and brought as much energy as he could. Whether it was cheering after a basket or giving a young player advice, Pesci contributed, but it wasn’t easy.

As a sophomore, Pesci played major minutes as the Golden Rams went 17-9 and lost to three-time defending champion New Castle in the WPIAL finals. He started next to Luke Cochran in the backcourt and impressed coach Tyler Stoczynski with his work ethic and determination.

“How hard he played each and every day earned him the right to start,” Stoczynski said. “He just kind of got the opportunity and didn’t let it go. It was really disappointing the injury that he undertook, but he’s responded well and he’s gone through the tough time of sitting out all last year.”

Having that much success as a sophomore didn’t make it any easier on Pesci as he watched from the sidelines last season. He said some days he didn’t like coming to practice.

“I hated watching it. It wasn’t fun for me,” Pesci said.

But it was motivating. Toward the end of last season, Pesci played a limited role down the stretch. He scored his first points against Ringgold in Highlands’ WPIAL quarterfinal game, but other than that he sat on the bench.

Now, as the Golden Rams kicked off their season earlier with their first official practice Jan. 4, Pesci is looking to bounce back in a big way. He wants to return to the form he had during his sophomore season and Stoczynski said he got off to a good start.

“In our first practice on Monday, he was probably one of our best players because he was just so loud and he was really communicating with guys,” Stoczynski said. “He’s played a lot of varsity basketball even without last year and he was able to come back for the playoffs and be a part of that so that was great. But we’re looking for him to step up for us this year.”

After only being able to play a little bit last season, Pesci said he felt good being back on the court with his teammates Monday. He just had to knock off the rust.

“I felt like the IQ is still there, the communication is something that I’m always going to have, I just have to get my skills back,” Pesci said.

Once he gets those back, the 6-foot guard will be in position to make a big impact.

“This is my comeback year,” Pesci said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


More Basketball

Aquinas Academy boys show they’re no one-man team
Defense made difference for Franklin Regional in run to WPIAL finals
2024 WPIAL Class 6A boys basketball championship breakdown: Upper St. Clair vs. Baldwin
2024 WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball championship breakdown: Armstrong vs. South Fayette
2024 WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball championship breakdown: Blackhawk vs. North Catholic