Riverview boys put focus on winning close games in Section 3-2A

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Friday, November 24, 2023 | 12:38 PM


Riverview boys basketball’s fortunes came down to a few possessions last year.

Tight losses to Clairton, Serra Catholic, Jeannette and Leechburg left the Raiders on the outside looking in when it came to the postseason.

The goal for this season is to flip the results of those tight games while getting adjusted to having four new starters in the lineup.

“We ended up losing four section games by five or fewer points,” Riverview coach Phil McGivney said. “Learning to win and close out games is a process. With this being Year 3 with our coaching staff, I’m hoping that some of those closer games can turn into victories.”

Riverview will have a new look, but there’s experience returning.

That begins with the lone returning starter, senior guard Nate Sprajcar.

Sprajcar was one of Riverview’s go-to scorers last season and worked to improve his game all summer.

“He’s a student of the game,” McGivney said. “He plays year-round with AAU and scored in double digits in 22 of the 26 games he played this summer.”

The Raiders will get a boost from the return of senior guard Jack Loughren, who missed all of last season because of injury.

“He’s back at 100%, and he brings a lot of energy to our gym,” McGivney said. “Nate and Jack have been named our captains. We’re really looking forward to their leadership and being able to bring some of the younger guys along.”

One of the younger players stepping into a bigger role is junior forward Alex Schultheis.

Schultheis gave Riverview strong minutes off the bench and brings size at 6-foot-5.

Fellow junior Drew Ogrodowski is 6-3, 265 pounds and is coming off a strong season on the offensive/defensive lines for the Raiders football team.

Sophomore Rio Stotts saw time off the bench last year.

A trio of runners from Riverview’s state runner-up cross country team — Holden Deasy (junior), Noah Vespi (junior) and Cohen Hoolahan (senior) — are on the team.

“We have a lot of talented players that bring different skill sets, which are very complementary to each other,” McGivney said. “We’re going to be young, and we’re probably going to take some lumps, but we’re going to compete every day. That’s for sure.”

The Raiders will open their season at the Freeport tip-off tournament Dec. 1 against Valley.

They are in Section 3-2A with local rivals Springdale and Leechburg as well as Jeannette, Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic and Serra Catholic.

The Raiders scored a victory over the section champion Centurions last year, who went on to reach the WPIAL semifinals.

“You don’t get any off nights,” McGivney said. “With Springdale being our rival, it doesn’t matter if we were loaded or they were loaded, it always seems to go down to the wire. GCC has some solid returning players, and so does Serra. Clairton is always going to be athletic and push the ball. Jeannette and Leechburg will be tough. Every game was a battle last year.”

Riverview boys at a glance

Coach: Phil McGivney

Last year’s record: 12-10 (4-8 Section 3-2A)

Returning starter: Nate Sprajcar (Sr., G)

Top newcomer: Jack Loughren (Sr., G)

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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