Stalwart Sullivan leads new-look St. Joseph boys basketball

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Sunday, December 1, 2019 | 5:36 PM


Last season was a good time to be part of the St. Joseph boys basketball team.

The Spartans won 18 games, including a 78-45 victory over West Greene in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. It was St. Joseph’s first postseason win since 2011.

It will be difficult to replicate that success this season.

Four starters from last season graduated. Also gone is Kelly Robinson, who stepped away after a 21-year tenure as coach.

St. Joseph will return its top scorer in junior Andrew Sullivan, who has a career-high of 32 points and scored 30 in a WPIAL quarterfinals loss last season to Monessen.

Along with Sullivan comes a good group of players and new coach Hart Coleman, who spent the past two seasons in charge at Plum.

The plan is to keep things going in the right direction.

“We’re trying to find our identity and find our voice with the new program, being that I’m new and a lot of the guys are new,” Coleman said. “We want to keep things going from what they accomplished last year, but with the new team, we’re trying to build from that. It’s a young team, a new team but definitely a hungry team.”

Coleman said he was hired just before the summer league the Spartans host, and he has seen a “huge jump” from then to their fall scrimmages.

He said players have meshed well and the on-court ability has improved.

The Spartans scrimmaged Summit Academy last week, and Coleman was pleased with what he saw.

Sullivan will be a huge piece for the Spartans. He’s been a mainstay since his freshman season, and Coleman said Sullivan brings experience and leadership to the team.

“He’s brought a wealth of knowledge to the program, and he’s trying to put a lot of the guys on his back,” Sullivan said. “He’s kind of a quiet storm. He doesn’t say a lot, but he leads tremendously well by example.”

Coleman said his players learned the new system quickly. Sullivan will be joined in the lineup by a few newcomers.

Tyler Wood, Rylan Zale, Dominic Fellows and Zack Szep likely will round out the starting lineup for the Spartans.

“Rylan is a newcomer to varsity as well as Zack,” Coleman said. “Dominic didn’t see significant minutes, and Tyler hasn’t played I believe since his freshman year.”

Coleman said the transition has been simple, and he credits players, parents and adminstrators for making that happen.

He said he hopes St. Joseph remains successful and continues to grow.

“First and foremost, we don’t want to sell ourselves short being a young team,” Coleman said. “A realistic goal is to get into the playoffs, and anything can happen from there. It’s a one-game season from there.”

The Spartans open with the St. Joseph Tip-Off Tournament on Friday. They host Propel Braddock Hills at 8:15 p.m. Section play begins Dec. 13 against Greensburg Central Catholic.

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