Pine-Richland boys reloaded, ready to run

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Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 9:42 AM


Last season, a high-scoring, guard-heavy offensive attack powered the Pine-Richland boys basketball team to a WPIAL Class 6A semifinal appearance and a PIAA playoff bid.

Some aspects of this season’s team will be different, as prominent contributors Dan Petcash, Greg Shulkosky and Colin Luellen were lost to graduation. However, some aspects will remain consistent as coach Jeff Ackermann returns a bevy of experienced scorers who are poised to run the floor and maintain the team’s reputation as a dangerous perimeter-shooting unit.

“We lost some really good players, but we have a senior in Kyle Polce, he averaged about 13 points per game. Now he needs to step up and take his game to the next level,” Ackermann said. “He’ll bump to the two spot and fill in for Dan (Petcash). Kyle is a really, really good player.

“Logan Murray is another senior. He was our sixth man last year but he really got starter minutes. He averaged 10 points per game and he’s going to be great this season. You talk about a gym rat, Logan is your typical gym rat. He can’t get enough. He just works and works and works, and he gets that much better every year.”

Two more seniors, Patrick Shanahan and Cam Kirkland, will be formidable presences inside the paint for Pine-Richland. Shanahan is listed at 6-foot-4 and Kirkland is listed at 6-6, and both have varsity experience.

Another senior and potential X factor is Levi Wentz. The forward/guard can do a little bit of everything, according to his coach, and has continued to develop his game at a rapid pace.

“He grew about 2 inches since last year so he’s about 6-3, 6-3½,” Ackermann said. “He’s a kid that grew up his whole life playing on B teams and second teams, but he’s hung in there and stuck with it and just kept working and working.

“People are really going to be surprised when they see Levi Wentz play this year.”

Junior and Pine-Richland basketball legacy Joey Petcash will factor heavily into the mix too, as will senior Jack Sevco.

Underclassmen Luke Shanahan, Joey Dudkoswki and Andrew Alexander also have the potential to earn minutes in the team’s rotation.

As their Section 1-6A opponents have come to expect, Pine-Richland is not lacking for talent. The key for the team’s success, according to Ackermann, will be unlocking the right combinations of players against the right opponents.

“We’re still very guard-oriented,” the Rams’ floor boss said. “But some of it will be matchup-based, too. Some guys might play against bigger teams and others might get the run against smaller teams. We’ve been lucky where we’ve had a lot of kids that really just dedicate themselves and take basketball really seriously. Overall, it makes my job a lot easier, so I’m thankful for that.”

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