New Riverview basketball coaches hit ground running

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | 2:48 PM


For the last four seasons, Phil McGivney’s daily commute to Keystone Oaks High School consisted of which tunnel to navigate through.

Now, the O’Hara Township resident’s commuting choices are much simpler with his appointment as Riverview’s boys basketball coach.

“It’s 22 minutes walking, 12 minutes by bicycle and 4 minutes by car,” said McGivney, who is replacing the retired Paul Sapotichne.

McGivney is one of two new basketball coaches at Riverview. Former assistant Jill Catanzaro will replace the retired Keith Stitt to head the Raiders girls.

“When the job opened up, I called some friends I knew there, saw some film on the guys and recognized they have a high number of returnees, and I saw it as an opportunity to build a program,” McGivney said.

Catanzaro, a varsity assistant the past six seasons, takes over a program that has made the WPIAL playoffs 11 of the past 12 years. Some of that time was with the junior high program.

“I have been with the program most of coach Stitt’s tenure,” Catanzaro said. “I met him while I was coaching his daughter, Stephanie. He said he was impressed that I was coaching 30 girls while I was pregnant.”

With small children, Catanzaro had stepped away from coaching when she didn’t think she could give it “all that was needed” but feels the time is right to become a head coach.

Both coaches went to high school in Central Pennsylvania. McGivney went to Penn Cambria near Cresson, and, as Jill McElhinny, Catanzaro scored 2,272 career points, had 1,100 rebounds and 800 steals for Loyalsock High School, located next door to Williamsport.

Both new coaches have cemented their philosophies.

McGivney believes in tailoring coaching at a small school to the players he has on hand.

“There are certain things you can do from a schematic standpoint, but your offense and defense has to be tailored around the people you have,” McGivney said. “We want to push the basketball as quickly as we can upcourt and try zone presses and be as unpredictable as we can on defense.”

McGivney’s first order of business is to replace four-year point guard Gideon Deasy, who played in the Roundball Classic in May. The new coach feels several capable players are up for the job.

Not officially named until summer began, McGivney’s Raiders are playing catch-up with some other schools, recently competing in leagues at McKeesport and Plum. McGivney also knows, at a small school, athletes are shared among various sports.

“I believe in multiple-sport athletes,” McKelvey said. “Every athlete can get better at every sport, and that’s the way to go.”

Catanzaro believes in developing leadership qualities, whether on the floor on or the bench.

“We don’t want players just to chatter while on the bench,” she said. “We want players to coach each other up and make each other better. Leadership should be natural.”

One example Catanzaro points to is rising junior Ava Blickenderfer, who helped out with the team as she recovered from an operation.

Catanzaro recalls attending a coaching clinic where the theme was to “SCHAPE” the gym. S is for Spirit; C is for Communication; H is for Hustle; A is for attitude; P is for Precision and E is for Enhance — doing more than you should.

The Raiders boys finished the truncated 2020-21 season at 3-12, 1-9 in tough Section 1-2A. The girls went 6-7 overall, 4-6 in Section 3-A.

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