Thomas Jefferson notebook: Zandier brothers share memorable day on gridiron

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Friday, December 27, 2019 | 6:05 PM


The Zandier family will remember the date — Nov. 29 — for a long time.

On that day, TJ junior Preston Zandier helped the Jaguars win a PIAA Class 4A semifinal game to advance to the state finals.

Also, and at the same time, Virginia linebacker and older brother Zane Zandier helped spark the Cavaliers to a 39-33 conference win against Virginia Tech to qualify for the ACC championship game.

TJ rolled past Lampeter-Strasburg, 44-2, in the semifinal matchup held in Holidaysburg.

Preston Zandier, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound wide receiver/linebacker, was credited with three tackles on defense plus one reception for 17 yards on offense.

Zane Zandier, a 6-3, 220-pound junior and 2017 TJ graduate, registered six tackles, including two solo, and a half-sack against the Hokies.

TJ went on to win the PIAA championship. Virginia lost to Clemson in the ACC final.

“It was a crazy weekend for my family,” Preston said. “I left the hotel from Hershey the next morning and we drove to Charlotte for the ACC championship. I never get to see my brother play in person so was really fun.”

Jaguars off to quick start

TJ’s boys basketball team kicked off its Section 2-5A schedule with back-to-back victories, winning a nail-biter against South Fayette, 63-62, and rolling on the road against West Allegheny, 79-65.

Coach Dom DiCicco welcomed eight returning lettermen to this year’s team, including five returning starters.

Senior guards Isaac McNeil and Noah Pearce, senior forwards Shane Stump and James Martinis and junior guard Jake Pugh are returning starters, and have been joined by lettermen Dan Deabner, a senior guard; Ethan Dunsey, a junior forward; and Ian Hansen, a junior guard.

“We expect to be competitive,” DeCicco said, “and compete to make the playoffs. We really have been stressing rebounding and defense because we are not a big team.”

TJ and Trinity were the only teams able to start 2-0 in the section. West Allegheny, Chartiers Valley and Moon split their first two decisions, and were followed by Montour, West Mifflin and South Fayette.

“I think it’s the best section from top to bottom in 5A,” DeCicco said. “Everyone is really good.”

Girls hoops wins 5 in row

The TJ girls basketball team took a five-game winning streak into the holiday break, improving to 6-1 with a win Dec. 20 at Keystone Oaks.

The Jaguars have a solid group of returning letterwinners, including returning senior starters Alyssa DeAngelo at guard and Dalaney Ranallo at forward. They have been joined in the lineup by sophomore guard Graci Fairman and junior guard/forward Maddy Trainer.

Senior guard De Bennett, senior guard/forward Lydia Shaw, sophomore guard Lydia Zoglmann and junior guard Lexi Dadig also are returning letterwinners.

Senior Molly Wagner, a starter at forward last year, will miss the 2019-20 season because of an ACL injury.

“We see the team coming together each day,” coach Lisa Fairman said. “They are learning how to play together on the court and seem more determined than every to achieve their goals.”

The teams to beat in Section 1-5A?

“Chartiers Valley, Trinity and Moon will be very strong this year,” Fairman said. “Lincoln Park will be a competitor this year as well.”

DeAngelo jumped out to a fast start in early December, racking up 30 points in a 68-24 win against Elizabeth Forward. She netted eight 3-pointers, which is believed to be a team record.

Pair named all-state

Two senior members of the TJ girls volleyball program — libero Tanner Patrick and middle hitter Tyler Turk — were selected to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAA all-state team.

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