Penn-Trafford boys embark on ‘total reload’

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Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 8:02 PM


Total reload.

Those are the words Penn-Trafford boys basketball coach Jim Rocco paired together to describe his team heading into a new season that begins Friday night with the Warriors taking on North Allegheny at the Hempfield tip-off tournament.

The Warriors bid farewell to five quality seniors, including double-digit scorer and 3-point threat Kevin Stinelli.

Rocco’s son, Zach, not only is the team’s lone senior but he also is the only returning player with substantial varsity minutes.

Zach Rocco, who has an offer to play at Army, averaged around 14 points and eight assists last season as the Warriors went 14-9 and lost to Mt. Lebanon, 74-56, in the first round of the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs.

“It’s not a big deal,” coach Rocco said of the inexperience. “It’s not something we’re going to get stressed out about. It’s going to be a teaching and learning experience for our younger kids.”

Jim Rocco said he hopes some early-season experience will help get his team ready for a challenging Section 3 schedule that features home-and-homes with Fox Chapel, Hempfield, Norwin, Connellsville, and Latrobe.

“We have to be ready to play every night,” said Rocco, who is 40-48 in four seasons at Penn-Trafford. “Nothing will come easy.”

Zach Rocco is expected to have an increased scoring role but also hopes to continue to do what he does best: advance the offense with his passing.

“I know I will have to score more,” he said, “but I want to get the younger guys ready for what’s to come. Playing (varsity) is a different animal than JV.”

Junior Chase Vecchio is expected to find a spot at guard for a team that still plans to play fast and score on kick-outs.

“Chase is a crafty lefty and a good passer,” Jim Rocco said. “He is cut from the quality cloth of a great family.”

Sophomore Nick Crum should provide another 3-point option, while sophomores Ben Myers and Josh Kapcin also figure into the backcourt mix.

“Kapcin is a rangy, active player,” Jim Rocco said.

Junior Silas Koschko, a football player, should bring some toughness to the paint.

At 6-foot-5, Myers provides some size to a mostly small rotation.

“One thing I can say is that we’re going to have fun,” Rocco said. “We’re going to have a good time. The winter season isn’t that long when you consider we played 50 to 60 games in the summer. Everyone does that now. We just need our guys to get used to the bright lights on Friday nights.”

Rocco’s coaching assistants changed some. Gary Ingelido and Doug Kelly left the staff and former middle school coach Brandon Pyles came aboard, joining Rocco and assistant Nick Ionadi, Rocco’s former point guard at Penn Hills and an active basketball skills trainer.

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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