Leechburg boys prepare for season of change with new coach, new-look roster

Wednesday, November 22, 2023 | 11:01 AM

There is a lot of newness around the Leechburg boys basketball team.

Andrew McDermott takes over for longtime Blue Devils coach Damian Davies, who stepped down after last season.

McDermott and his staff of young coaches, including his brother Ryan, Dylan Romaniw and Caleb Orendi, are Leechburg grads.

They take over a team that has only one player with varsity experience in junior point guard Brady Rollinger.

Leechburg will lean on a promising group of sophomores. The players and coaches will look to grow together as they learn to navigate varsity basketball.

“It’s really unique that it’s my first year, and we’re basically going to have a whole new team,” McDermott said.

McDermott was an assistant for Davies, so he’s very familiar with the young players making the leap to varsity.

Rollinger came off the bench last year, so the Blue Devils do not have a returning starter. He’s the lone junior on the team.

Rocco Vigna, Gabe Santiago, Timmy Skeel, Nevin Steele, Lucas Oldfield and Mason Scitticatt are the group of sophomores making their varsity debuts.

“The sophomores played a ton of junior varsity last year,” McDermott said. “I’m really excited about Nevin Steele. He’s been working hard all summer. He has a great shot and can really get to the hoop. Gabe Santiago and Rocco Vigna are two of our better defenders on our team. They are great athletes. Timmy Skeel grew a lot over the offseason and put in the work. Skeel and Oldfield are going to be our two forwards this year. Mason is a good shooter, so he’s someone that can work his way into a role.”

The Blue Devils will host their annual tip-off tournament Dec. 1-2. Apollo-Ridge, Nazareth Prep and Homer Center are the other three teams at the tournament.

They’ll be in a difficult Section 3-2A with Greensburg Central Catholic, Serra Catholic, Jeannette, Clairton, Riverview and Springdale.

McDermott said practices and the first couple weeks of play will be about finding an identity and solidifying their rotation. There are some freshmen out for the team, but McDermott said they mainly will play junior varsity. Some players may pull double duty to get more experience.

“One thing that I’ve stressed to them is that everything will be earned, not given,” McDermott said. “Nobody coming in has a varsity role pinned down, so the competition between teammates is going to make us better. That’s what we’re trying to build upon. There’s a lot of opportunities for these guys. It’s just a matter of who wants to take it.”

Leechburg boys at a glance

Coach: Andrew McDermott

Last year’s record: 7-14 (3-9 Section 3-2A)

Returning starters: None

Top newcomers: Rocco Vigna (So., G), Gabe Santiago (So., G), Timmy Skeel (So., F), Nevin Steele (So., G), Lucas Oldfield (So., F), Mason Scitticatt (So., G)

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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