Jeannette boys basketball plans to contend in Class 2A

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Sunday, November 24, 2019 | 5:56 PM


Midway through last season, the Jeannette boys basketball team was mired in a three-game Section 2-2A losing streak.

The Jayhawks were on the verge of falling out of playoff contention if they didn’t right the ship.

That was about the time Jeannette coach Adrian Batts decided to make a change — starting Toby Cline at point guard — and when guard Jackson Pruitt got healthy.

Cline provided stability, Pruitt gave the Jayhawks another scoring threat and Jayhawks finished strong, winning four of their final four section games to finish second behind Serra Catholic with an 8-4 record.

The momentum carried over into the WPIAL playoffs as the Jayhawks, who finished 13-11, rolled over Springdale and came within three points of upsetting Sewickley Academy.

“We had Sewickley Academy beat,” Batts said. “We just came up short. We started playing our best basketball.”

Jeannette graduated three starters. Marcus Barnes is playing football at William & Mary. Drake Petrillo is playing baseball at Pitt-Greensburg, and A.J, Sharp, the team’s leading scorer, is playing basketball at Carlow.

“We lost our leading scorer, but we return our second and third scorers,” Batts said. “Anytime you can return your point guard, it gives you a leader on the floor. He had a great end of the season.

“(Pruitt) also played his best basketball at the end of the season. Zach Crutchman will be our force inside, and we have other guys coming up. Anton Good is going to be a starter. He had some good games in the playoffs. Keith Rockmore and others will see action. We’ll have more depth, and I’m excited about our team.”

Batts said he expects to use a nine-player rotation to pressure teams and force turnovers. Jeannette allowed 47.75 points per game in the section.

“I got to start late in the season, and I’m excited about this season,” Cline said. “I feel if we share the ball, we’ll have a good season.”

Jeannette wants to challenge for a section title this season.

Serra graduates four starters from a team that went 12-0 in the section and was WPIAL runner-up.

Batts said the section will be wide open with Brentwood, California and Serra all competing for playoff spots with his team.

“We’re going to be small at times, and we’re going to press a lot,” Pruitt said. “I think we’ll be a lot quicker defensively. We lost three seniors that were starters, but I guarantee people will be sleeping on us this year. We have to have the same mentality as football, come in get our work and try to win as many games as we can and get into the playoffs.”

Batts added: “We have more guys who are basketball players, which hopefully gets us over the hump.”

Jeannette opens the season against two higher-classification teams at the Hempfield Tipoff tournament Dec. 6-7. The Jayhawks open against Class 4A Belle Vernon play Class 5A McKeesport on the second day.

Batts said he will find out a lot about his team that weekend.

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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