Springdale boys loaded with senior talent to make run at playoff spot
Saturday, November 25, 2023 | 8:24 PM
Every time a player or coach enters the Springdale boys basketball locker room, they get a glimpse of what their Dynamos team could be.
Situated on the wall is an homage to the 1989 Springdale team that won the program’s lone WPIAL championship.
Thirty-five years later, the Dynamos are utilizing that accomplishment to fuel the determination for another title.
“We are really trying to emphasize that this has been done,” coach Kobe Phillippi said. “There’s a group of guys that came before you that has done this. It’s achievable.”
As the Dynamos strive to return to the promise land, they will need to start with restoring their spot in the playoffs. Springdale has made the playoffs 37 times in program history but failed to qualify a year ago after a 3-9 sixth-place finish in Section 3-2A.
In Year 3 for Phillippi, he understands the significance of success for his program.
“We are very fortunate to have such a rich history of basketball in Springdale,” he said. “That’s something we don’t shy away from. We are proud of that, and we embrace that the standard is set high. The expectations are high, but that’s how we want them.”
One area that prevented Springdale from excelling last year was an inability to maintain its composure through the winning stretches and tough losses.
“Sometimes we get a little too high, and sometimes get a little too low,” Phillippi said. “What I’m hoping for is to remain even keel throughout. There’s going to be ups and going to be downs, so how do we keep that even state of mind.”
The Dynamos are loaded with senior experience that will take center stage in their quest to get back to the postseason after graduating one senior last year. Out of the seven seniors represented on this year’s, five of them will return as starters.
“That was one of the blessings in disguise you could say from last year. A lot of guys were thrown into the fire,” Phillippi said. “This year, they have the experience. They are battle tested.”
Leading the way for the Dynamos will be a pair of double-digit scorers: forward Mason Gent and guard John Hughes. With Gent averaging 14.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season, he will be a key force again.
“Mason’s going to do a little bit of everything for us. He did that last year,” Phillippi said. “He’s 6-5, and he brought the ball up the floor for us sometimes. He has a lot on his plate this year.”
Posting a team-best 17.5 points per contest a season ago, Hughes will be joined by guard Chase Weihrauch to fill the basket, along with being the Dynamos defensive heartbeat.
Phillippi acknowledged there is not a certain vocal leader on this year’s team, he did highlight senior forward Jackson Pribanic’s leadership on the floor.
“He leads by example,” Phillippi said. “Taking charges, getting rebounds and doing things not everybody wants to do.”
Point guard Billy Lawrence will run the offense for a team that averaged 54.7 points per game.
With a bevy of seniors expected to steer the ship, Phillippi will look for juniors Pat Wylly and John Duku to step up as reserves.
“Wylly and Duku both have a positive mindset and play very good defense,” Phillippi said. “That’s how they are going to see their way on the floor. They provided us with that a little bit last year. Now, they are bigger, faster, stronger.”
After a sixth-place finish last year behind section champ Greensburg Central Catholic, Serra Catholic, Jeannette, Clairton and Riverview, the Dynamos aim to improve in what Phillippi anticipates to be another tough grouping of teams.
“Last year, it was a bloodbath. I think it’s going to be a bloodbath again. There’s some really good teams and really good coaches,” he said.
At a glance
Coach: Kobe Phillippi
Last year’s record: 9-13, 3-9
Returning starters: John Hughes (Sr. G-F), Mason Gent (Sr. F), Jackson Pribanic (Sr. F), Billy
Lawrence (Sr. G), Chase Weihrauch (Sr. G)
Top newcomers: John Duku (Jr. G-F)
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