Run-and-gun Leechburg boys looking to keep pedal to the floor
Wednesday, December 2, 2020 | 3:22 PM
Last season, the Leechburg boys basketball team loved to run, play fast and create as many scoring opportunities as possible.
“The more chances the better,” Leechburg coach Damian Davies said.
They did so successfully, too. The Blue Devils averaged 70 points per game, which was tied for the second-highest in WPIAL Class A last season, and toward the end of the season, they scored 85 points or more in four of their final five games.
They showcased their speed and aggressiveness, and after losing three seniors, two of whom started, the Blue Devils are looking to run even more this season.
“I really think we can play like eight or nine guys like full throttle, which is what I really want to do because everyone loves it,” Davies said. “They all can play, they all can dribble, they all can handle, and they all can shoot. I think it makes it exciting.”
Although the graduation of Connor McDermott and Jake Blumer are big losses, the Blue Devils have a lot of talent returning that will allow them to continue their fast-paced play.
It starts with point guard Dylan Cook. The senior who led the Blue Devils in scoring last season with 19.9 points per game was a factor at both ends of the floor. He’s quick and jumps into passing lanes well on defense while leading the Blue Devils on the offensive end.
“What I like about Dylan’s game is most of the time he’s trying to create shots for other people, and like point guards need to do, when something isn’t working, he makes things happen,” Davies said. “That’s generally how he works, and he also got a lot of his offense off of his defense. He’s a really great anticipator.”
In order to fill the gaps left by Blumer and McDermott, Davies said he is expecting junior Eli Rich and sophomore Braylan Lovelace to play even bigger roles this season.
Rich averaged 14.2 points per game last season and provided the Blue Devils with a post presence while still being able to work on the perimeter as a shooter.
Lovelace also played a big role as a freshman before suffering an injury midway through the season. When he returned from a high ankle sprain, the Blue Devils started to reach their peak potential as they reached the playoffs.
Now Davies is looking for even more from Rich and Lovelace.
“I expect them to score a lot more, and I think that’s where you’re going to see that come from,” Davies said about how to replace McDermott and Blumer’s production. “We scored a lot off of our defense, and Jake benefited from that, but he was also a power inside. I think Eli and Bray are going to produce a lot more points this season.”
To replace Blumer and McDermott physically, Davies feels like he has a couple of young guys coming through the program who could play solid minutes this season. Dane Davies, Cole Villa and Dalton Hamm all saw minutes last season.
“We have some young guys who played last year and some young guys who looked good this summer,” Davies said. “So, I think we’ll have a nice four or five guys that we can kind of swing through there and keep us moving.”
Leechburg boys at a glance
Coach: Damian Davies
Last year’s record: 15-6, (10-4 Section 1-3A)
Returning starters: Dylan Cook, Sr., G: Eli Rich, Jr., F; Braylan Lovelace, So., G
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
More Basketball• 2024 WPIAL Class 4A boys basketball championship breakdown: Lincoln Park vs. Hampton
• 2024 WPIAL Class A boys basketball championship breakdown: Imani Christian vs. Neighborhood Academy
• Trib HSSN Pennsylvania boys high school basketball rankings for Feb. 29, 2024
• Trib HSSN Pennsylvania girls high school basketball rankings for Feb. 29, 2024
• Trib 10: New team at the top of WPIAL girls power rankings