Trib HSSN 2021-22 WPIAL Class 2A boys basketball preseason breakdown

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021 | 5:02 PM


Our Lady of the Sacred Heart put together a perfect season a year ago, winning section, WPIAL and PIAA titles.

Jake DiMichele and Dante Spadafora were first-team all-state selections, and coach Mike Rodriguez was the state’s coach of the year for Class 2A as OLSH became the 14th WPIAL team to finish a season unbeaten.

Spadafora has since moved on to play at West Liberty, but DiMichele returns for his senior season after earning Pennsylvania Player of the Year honors. Class 2A will feature some title contenders, but the three-time defending WPIAL champion Chargers will again play the role of favorite.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, top five teams and other notables in WPIAL 2A boys basketball this season.

Preseason player of the year

Jake DiMichele

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

6-3, Sr., forward

29.3 ppg last season

Players to watch

Chris Barrish

Carmichaels

5-9, Sr., G, 19.3 ppg

Jackson Juzang

Winchester Thurston

5-11, Sr., G, 30.9 ppg

Khalil Kerr

Carlynton

5-10, Sr., G, 12.4 ppg

Corey Simmons

Sto-Rox

6-1, Jr., G, 13.5 ppg

Brevan Williams

Greensburg Central Catholic

6-4, Sr., F, 20.3 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (24-0 last season)

OLSH will have a tough time topping last season’s 24-0 season that included a third straight WPIAL title and a PIAA championship. Senior forward DiMichele averaged a team-best 29.3 points and 11 rebounds per game and has more than 1,800 career points. Dante Spadafora (19 ppg) graduated, but OLSH returns senior center Dawson Summers, junior guard Rocco Spadafora and sophomore forward Bryson Kirschner. Coach Mike Rodriguez has a 246-75 record in 13 seasons at OLSH.

2. Greensburg Central Catholic (16-4)

GCC senior Brevan Williams (20.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg) was picked third-team all-state last season and will team with 6-3 forward Ryan Appleby to give the Centurions a tall tandem inside, which will also be bolstered by 6-4 Norwin transfer Franco Alvarez, a sophomore forward, and 6-3 sophomore Anthony Semelka. Senior guard Dylan Parsons also returns to the starting lineup for the WPIAL runner-up Centurions.

3. Winchester Thurston (9-5)

Winchester Thurston senior Jackson Juzang (30.9 ppg) was named first-team all-state after leading the Bears to the quarterfinals last season. Fellow senior guard Lance Nicholls (18.1 ppg) also returns to give the Bears a high-scoring backcourt that should contend for the Section 3 title.

4. Sto-Rox (11-6)

The Section 2 champion Vikings reached the semifinals last season before a four-point loss to GCC. Back are a pair of all-section guards in senior Corey Simmons (13.5 ppg) and junior Jaymont Green-Miller (12.8 ppg). Green-Miller was a key part of the Vikings’ success on the football field this season.

5. Jeannette (15-5)

The Jayhawks reached the WPIAL semifinals last season and return two starters — senior guard Anton Good (15 ppg) and junior forward Shane Mickens (4.5 rpg). Junior guard Nasheed Thompson should also provide some scoring.

Notable

• Carlynton (12-5) welcomes back a pair of all-section guards in senior Khalil Kerr (12.4 ppg) and junior Austin Miller (10 ppg). The Cougars were Section 2 runners-up last season.

• Fort Cherry (13-7) reached the quarterfinals last season and returns four starters — forwards Maddox Truschell and Dylan Rogers and guards Owen Norman and Derek Errett.

• Frazier (18-4) won Section 4 last season but lost a first-round game to Fort Cherry. The Commodores graduated all five starters, including leading scorers Owen Newcomer (18 ppg) and Luke Santo (16 ppg).

• Shenango (16-8) graduated all-section forward Reis Watkins but returns starters Dalton Peters and Brody McQuiston after finishing third in Section 1 and reaching the quarterfinals. Braden Zeigler also should be a key contributor.

• Springdale (12-8) was the Section 1 runner-up a year ago. The Dynamos lost all-section guard Demitri Fritch (23.0 ppg) to graduation but return senior forward Logan Dexter and senior guard Ryan Reinsfelder. Kobe Phillippi takes over heading coaching duties.

• South Side (6-12) has reached the postseason four straight seasons and returns guards Aidan Roach (11.3 ppg) and Dusty Mackall.

• Because of its run to the PIAA football championship game, Serra Catholic (4-12) will be a little shorthanded to start the season. The Eagles return four starters – point guard Elijah Ward, shooting guard Joey DeMoss and forwards Brendan Cooley and Ryan Brooks.

• Carmichaels (9-6) returns five starters, including all-section point guard Chris Barrish (19.3 ppg).

• WPIAL quarterfinalist Sewickley Academy (10-8) graduated eight seniors, including all five starters. Four returning seniors — guards Sean Donohugh and Saverio Mignella and forwards Jack Wyche and Josh Chico — will lead the Panthers.

Alignment

Section 1: OLSH, Riverview, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side, Springdale

Section 2: Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Northgate, Sto-Rox

Section 3: Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Propel Braddock Hills, Serra Catholic, Winchester Thurston

Section 4: Bentworth, California, Carmichaels, Frazier, Jefferson-Morgan, Monessen

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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