New GCC boys coach, 24, looks to carry on winning tradition at his alma mater

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Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 7:18 PM


At 24, Christian Hyland will be one of the youngest head basketball coaches in the state — in the country, for that matter.

But taking the reins at Greensburg Central Catholic — his alma mater — gives him a charge and gets his competitive juices flowing again.

It’s all he can do not to suit up and run the point.

“I’m here all the time. I live here,” Hyland said from the coach’s office just outside of the GCC gymnasium after a practice this week. “The last five months flew by. The night before (the first official) practice, it kind of hit me: this is my program. It’s time to get going.”

Hyland is anxious to see how an athletic group that consists of a crop of rising sophomores and six seniors, blends together.

Depth is promising.

“We have a good mix of guys,” he said. “You see the success some of them had in football and soccer. They’re very athletic. We want to play fast, but out focus will be on the defensive end. We have to get stops. We’ll probably be better defensively than offensively.”

That doesn’t mean the Centurions won’t be able to score.

Senior guard Tom Erdely is the lone returning starter, but senior Nate Ward, the soccer standout, will provide energy in the backcourt.

“It’s really nice to get the football and soccer guys back,” Hyland said. “This is the first time since last season we’ve all been back together.”

Ward said the team has taken to Hyland.

“It’s good for our team because he is so close to our age,” Ward said. “Every practice has been intense. We have a lot of young guys, but I expect nothing less than the season we had last year.”

Senior forward Ben LaCarte also will be a scorer for GCC. Connor Gallagher, Ethan Boyle and Brandon Brown are other seniors who should give the Centurions big minutes.

Brown, Hyland said, might be the fastest player on the team.

Dylan Sebek, a junior guard, will play a key role on both ends of the floor, while junior Greensburg Salem transfer Christian McGowan also shows promise as a guard who can slash to the basket.

Hyland likes the sophomore group, which, he said, will allow GCC to run “a dozen to 13 deep.”

“We may not have a consistent five all year,” the coach said.

Ryan Appleby, Garrett Sherwin and Brevan Williams (6-3) are 10th-grade forwards, while Dillon Parsons, the younger brother of Greensburg Salem shooting guard Dante Parsons, could be a key guard.

“On any night, we could have a different 15-point scorer,” Hyland said. “It depends on the night. Nate, Tom and Sebek are very good defenders.”

Don’t expect too much finesse from the Centurions.

“We will have to grind it out and get rebounds,” Hyland said. “We have to be defending and getting rebounds to play like we want to play.”

Hyland was an assistant for three years under Greg Bisignani, who coached the Centurions for eight seasons and won 204 games.

Hyland was the point guard on the GCC team that finished runner-up in the WPIAL and reached the PIAA semifinals in 2014.

Bisignani resigned after last season and recommended Hyland be his successor.

“He is going to do very well,” Bisigani said of Hyland. “He is mature beyond his years.”

GCC finished 17-7 last season but made the WPIAL playoffs for the 17th time in its last 18 seasons.

Cornell upended the Centurions in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals, 78-48.

GCC will play a challenging nonsection schedule. It opens against Avonworth at the Springdale tournament, and also plays at Jeannette, faces Belle Vernon at the WCCA Shootout at Hempfield, takes on Greensburg Salem at the Golden Lions’ holiday tournament and faces Derry at the Shootout at Seton Hill.

“We’ll be battle-tested,” Hyland said.

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

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