Undefeated Springdale boys basketball team surprise of WPIAL Class 2A

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Thursday, December 26, 2019 | 5:51 PM


Heading into this season, it might have been easy to overlook the Springdale boys basketball team.

The Dynamos were coming off a 12-9 season, having lost to Jeannette in the first-round of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs. On top of that, they also lost four seniors, including 6-foot-4 standout Mike Zolnierczyk.

But so far through this season, the Dynamos are off to a historic start.

At 7-0, Springdale is off to its best start this millennium, and the Dynamos are doing it in a fun and exciting way.

Six wins have come by 10 points or more. They also have the third-highest scoring average (69.6 points) in the classification behind Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (78.6) and Laurel (71.9).

In the span of a year, Springdale has gone from hunter to hunted.

“We were doing the hunting, but now everyone coming for us,” Epps said. “So all the other teams are going to be giving us their best effort, and that concerns me a little bit because we’ve never been in that position. But we’re going to see how it goes and keep pushing.”

Springdale’s fast start has been highlighted by a few changes.

Demitri Fritch has been on a scoring tear and has taken center stage for the Dynamos.

The 6-foot-3 junior guard has multiple triple-doubles, including a 42-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist performance in an 86-85 overtime victory over Sto-Rox. More recently, he had 38 points and 13 rebounds in a 10-point victory over Winchester Thurston.

Although Fritch’s success is a big part of Springdale’s success, it’s not the only thing. It has been a team effort since the start of summer.

“We had tournaments and leagues in the offseason,” sophomore forward Logan Dexter said. “I feel like everyone was working hard, and they came back this year ready to go.”

Aside from Fritch, Epps has gotten scoring from multiple sources. Dexter and Ben Myford have played big roles in the offense, and sophomore Ryan Reinsfelder has produced from behind the three-point line. Against Sto-Rox, he scored 15 points on five 3-pointers.

But one of the biggest contributions has been the play of freshman point guard Chris Mitchell.

“He’s been a monster for us because he does all of the little things that don’t show up in the box score,” Epps said. “He barely ever turns the ball over. He allows Demitri to play off the ball so he can concentrate on scoring, and he’s our best on ball defender.

“He brings a ton to the table, and he’s changed our whole team to be honest with you. We wouldn’t be the same team without him.”

The Dynamos’ strong start aside, they know they have room for improvement on the defensive end.

In their last two games, which were against Sto-Rox and Winchester Thurston, the Dynamos allowed 85 and 67 points. In their first five games, they didn’t allow a team to score more than 50 points.

“It’s slipped a little bit, but, obviously, when you play better teams, it’s not going to be the same,” Epps said. “But, I think we need to do a better of boxing out and playing defense as a whole. We just want to play defense and limit turnovers so we can get out and do what we do best.”

Springdale knows it will get a tough performance from each team it faces, so the Dynamos enter each game with a mentality of no letdowns.

“We have a lot of pressure on us, and we have a lot to prove,” Fritch said. “But for us, we just need to keep striving and getting better.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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