North Allegheny boys ready to dig in on defense

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Thursday, November 28, 2019 | 8:05 AM


Keith Noftz knows this version of the North Allegheny boys basketball program may take time to grow up.

The Tigers don’t return a roster long on varsity experience, but Noftz believes North Allegheny can compete.

Starting at the Hempfield Tournament on Dec. 6 against Penn-Trafford, the Tigers will compensate for a lack of veteran presence by focusing on their tradition of lock-down defense. Last season, North Allegheny limited its foes to 53.1 points per contest, which was seven points better than any other team in Section 1-6A.

“I think we defend really well,” Noftz said. “A lot of the coaches in our section thought we had the best man-to-man defense. We held our opponents to 39% shooting from the field and gave up the fewest points. We’ve done well in the summer league, fall league and have played well in scrimmages.”

The Tigers finished 13-9 last season, ending the season with an overtime loss to Canon-McMillan in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Developing an offense that scores consistently will be a work in progress for North Allegheny. The Tigers graduated their top three scorers from last season. The group of players Noftz has returning spent all summer and fall getting ready to step up to the varsity level.

Senior guard Justin Altmeyer, who started nine games and made 21 appearances last season, is the Tigers’ leading returning scorer, averaging 7.7 points per game.

“We need to score off our defense,” Noftz said. “We do have some shooters. Zach Andreykovich shoots the ball well. We’ll be tough to deal with. We have five or six guys capable of scoring.”

North Allegheny will also be counting on contributions from senior forward Grant Timmerson, senior guard Nate Campbell, junior guard Greg Habib and senior guard Luke Colella.

How quickly the group gets up to speed will determine how far the Tigers go.

North Allegheny will once again face stiff competition in section. Butler made the WPIAL finals last year, while Pine-Richland made the semifinals.

The Tigers will dig in on defense and see what happens.

“Our goal is to get back into the playoffs,” Noftz said. “We played good basketball last year, got a nice win over Penn Hills and lost in the playoffs to a Canon-McMillan team that was playing as well as any team in the area. Our kids will compete. There’s no reason we can’t do it again.”

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