North Hills basketball pleased with breakout season

Sunday, March 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Buzz Gabos is happy with the year his North Hills boys basketball team had in 2021-22. But the finish stings.

The Indians went 26-2, winning the Section 1-6A title and going unbeaten in the regular season.

North Hills secured the top seed in the Class 6A postseason but lost to Fox Chapel, 43-36, in the WPIAL title game at the Petersen Events Center.

The Indians then rebounded, winning a pair of PIAA playoff games by topping State College and Norristown, before dropping a quarterfinal matchup to Archbishop Wood, 74-47.

“When you look at the year before and all the interruptions and all that went on, I’m pleased with the overall record,” said Gabos, who completed his 16th year guiding the Indians. “I’m disappointed for the players. To go 26-2 and have all the success they had and win as many games as we did … you feel bad for them.

“We had some opportunities, one in the WPIALs and one in the PIAA (playoffs), to win a championship, and it just didn’t happen.”

North Hills, which went just 4-10 last season, played with tremendous tempo early in the year, pushing the ball up the floor quickly while routing most opponents put in its way. But while the weather grew colder, teams began to slow the game down, and that started to bring the Indians’ high scoring totals lower.

“It got more difficult each time we went through,” Gabos said of the section schedule, in which North Hills faced each section foe three times. “As we got to the 8-0 mark in the section and knew that we were in (the playoffs), we said all the time that teams were looking for that one big win against us. You’re getting their best shot, and teams are going to adjust.”

Gabos will lose four key seniors, including second-leading scorer Alex Smith, who averaged over 18 points per game. Other key contributors Matt Seidl, Devin Burgess and Will Blass will be departing, as well.

“They really took on an enormous leadership role over the last 12 months, starting last April,” Gabos said. “They became more vocal, all four of them did. But it was their presence. … Those guys were always there. They led by example.

“The younger guys will tell you, they were four unbelievable teammates, supportive of everybody. All four of them had a really good year. … They’ll really be missed.”

While the Indians will attempt to replace that quartet, the maestro will return. Royce Parham, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, scored over 21 points per game and was a constant double-double threat.

“The impressive thing with Royce is that he plays at both ends,” Gabos said. “The offensive game, by next year, will expand even more. You’ll be able to see him do things around the perimeter, handle the ball more, step away and play around the basket.

“His defense is two-fold. One is the ability to block shots without fouling people. But the other is that teams tried to pull him away and force him to guard on the perimeter. They get him involved in ball screens, and he’s just really good, and disciplined and stays down and uses his length. He’s becoming a really complete player.”

While the playoff losses hurt, Gabos was encouraged by what he saw on the court. He also loved what he saw around the court, as North Hills regularly sold out gyms throughout the region.

“They were like the sixth man,” he said. “We would be on the road and I’d go, ‘Gosh, we have more fans than the home team.’ They loved it. The kids loved it. They embraced it.

“Hopefully, next year we start off and get rolling early and continue this and continue to get that support.”


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