Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week: Sewickley Academy’s Nate Ridgeway
By: Likitha Janga
Monday, January 7, 2019 | 4:06 PM
School: Sewickley Academy
While the results to the start of 2019 for the defending WPIAL champions and the top-ranked team in Class 2A were split, it was a strong start for one of their top players.
Sewickley Academy senior Nate Ridgeway scored a combined 50 points in two games for the Panthers last week to earn Trib HSSN Player of the Week status.
The Panthers saw their four-game win streak end in their 2019 debut Wednesday when their comeback came up short at Aliquippa, 62-59. Ridgeway led all scorers with 26 points.
“Against Aliquippa, we needed Nate’s mental and physical toughness,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “He and Isiah (Warfield) did so much for our team as the rest of the team had not played in an environment like that against such a good defensive team. We could not have come back from 12 down going into the fourth quarter without that. Nate’s steal and driving layup gave us a lead late in the game.”
On Friday, Ridgeway again led all scorers with 24 points as Sewickley Academy cruised past South Side Beaver, 74-42, to improve the Panthers’ Section 3-2A record to 3-0.
“Against South Side Beaver, Nate did a variety of things well with two dunks, including a tip dunk, three 3-pointers, assists and rebounds,” Palmer said.
Despite roster changes to a young Panthers squad that won back-to-back WPIAL championships, Ridgeway and Warfield make a dynamic 1-2 punch. Ridgeway leads the team, averaging 25 points while handling the ball more on offense, playing better on defense and crashing the boards on both ends of the court.
“The biggest thing Nate did during the offseason is hit the weight room,” Palmer said. “He added at least 10 pounds of muscle so he’s so physically mature. In addition, he’s jumping better through all that hard work, and he also worked on his dribbling skills.”
The last two years, it has been a battle royal in Section 3 and in Class 2A overall between Sewickley Academy and rival Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and this year appears to be no different.
Both the Panthers and Chargers are ranked in the PIAA top five and are No. 1 and 2 in the WPIAL rankings.
“We are on target for where we wanted to be at this time of year,” Palmer said.
“The Belt brothers, Donald and Max, Rees Blaylock and John DelVecchio are playing good basketball. Isiah and Nate are great players, but their leadership is making us have the possibility to become a special team.”
Jalen Rogers, Connellsville
Connellsville won three of its first four games this season before hitting a victory drought that carried through the holidays and dropped them to 3-6 overall. But 2019 is off to a good start, thanks to a pair of wins and standout performances by Jalen Rogers in the first week of the new year. Rogers led all scorers with 25 points in a 49-40 section win over Norwin before scoring 21 points less than 24 hours later in a 68-49 triumph over Laurel Highlands.
Mekhi Reynolds, Shaler
After some lean years recently on the hardwood, the Shaler boys basketball program is off and running this season with an 8-3 record thanks in part to the play of Mekhi Reynolds. The junior scored a team-high 19 points, but it wasn’t enough to upset top-ranked Mars as the Titans fell 68-62 in a Section 3-5A game. However, Shaler ended a two-game skid two days later when Reynolds pumped in 21 points in a 65-60 triumph over host Hampton as the Titans moved into a tie with Franklin Regional for second place.
Isaac DeGregorio, North Catholic
Isaac DeGregorio was in the spotlight in the offseason for his transfer from Hampton to North Catholic after his father Dave was named head coach of the Trojans. Now the junior is taking center stage for his on-court skills. North Catholic pounded Fort Cherry on Friday, 86-28, as DeGregorio led a balanced attack with 15 points. Then, less than 24 hours later, he more than doubled his point totals by dropping 35 points as the Trojans upset Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 87-81, handing the Chargers their first loss of the season.
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.
ljanga is a Tribune-Review freelancer. You can contact ljanga at [email protected].