Kiski Area boys look to build off near-upset in WPIAL playoffs
Monday, November 20, 2023 | 8:40 PM
On paper, that is.
The Cavaliers didn’t back down from the formidable challenge. They led North Hills into the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the score in the final minute.
But the Indians held on for a 76-71 victory.
“That game still has a bad taste in my mouth because we were so close,” third-year Cavaliers coach Corey Smith said.
“But I am happy that a lot of our guys who are coming back this year got that experience and also have that bad taste in their mouth. Hopefully, if we get back to the playoffs this year, and I am confident that we will, we can use that experience as motivation and get past that first round.”
Three players from last year’s playoff qualifier who started against North Hills were lost to graduation, and a fourth was lost to a knee injury in the offseason. But there is optimism that the one starter back, Section 3 first-team all-star Isaiah Gonzalez, and several other returners can come together, raise their games and lift the team to that next level.
“I like the way we look on the court,” Gonzalez said.
“Practices are competitive. Everybody understands each other’s games. We’re building a lot of chemistry through these first couple of practices. We all see what we need to do to reach our goals.”
Jason Flemm, a senior who was set to return as a starter, will not play this season after suffering another knee injury, an ACL tear over the summer. He recently had surgery.
Gonzalez scored 17 points in the game against North Hills and led the team in several categories last year.
“He has stepped up tremendously, especially since coming in after football,” Smith said.
“Him having a good football season and helping them get to the WPIAL playoffs gave him even more confidence to do big things on the basketball court. This will be his fourth year playing varsity basketball, so he has that experience. I am excited to see what he can do for himself and in leading this team.”
Gonzalez is roughly 150 points away from 1,000 for his varsity career.
Noah Thimons, a senior guard and an all-section honorable mention selection last year along with Flemm, is expected to see an increased role and move into a starting spot.
He came off the bench against North Hills and hit seven 3-pointers, finishing with a team-best 21 points.
Smith said Thimons also is battling back from an injury, but he hopes to be ready to go when Kiski Area plays Johnstown’s Westmont Hilltop in the opening game of the Armstrong Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 1.
“He wasn’t a starter last year, but he got what I call ‘starter minutes,’” Smith said.
Sophomore guard Amaree Gonzalez, Isaiah’s brother; junior guards Colin Keller, Jacob Musselman and Carson Heinle; junior forward Tyler McDermott; senior forward Owen Person; and senior Terry “Bart” Martin, are among those making their cases to move into the starting lineup or see minutes off a deep bench.
“We’re looking to go about nine or 10 deep this year,” Smith said.
“Each kid brings something special to the table. We have scorers, rebounders, facilitators. There’s leadership, there’s energy, and a lot of guys who want to make a difference and make this a great season.”
“I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite, but I think we can be one of those top teams,” Smith said. “But it’s not going to be an easy road. We’re going to have to earn every win we get.”
Kiski Area boys at a glance
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Kiski Area
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