Veteran Brentwood boys roster aiming for bounce-back season

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Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The 2022-23 season was an anomaly for the Brentwood boys basketball program.

A regular WPIAL playoff participant — Brentwood qualified for postseason action for a fifth consecutive season in 2021-22 — the Spartans sat out last year’s playoffs thanks to a 5-16 record and only minimal success against section opponents.

“We are looking for a bounce-back season,” coach Dan Thayer said. “We struggled last year, losing a lot of close games. We are returning eight players from last year’s team. We believe we have a strong and balanced team with good inside and perimeter play. With a rigorous schedule, we will need to have balanced scoring to win.”

Maybe it was a change of sections that upset the Spartans’ winning ways.

Brentwood advanced to the postseason in 2021-22 by finishing third in Section 4-3A behind Washington and Brownsville. After winning four of their last five games, the Spartans wrapped up the regular season with a 15-7 record and landed the No. 12 seed for the WPIAL playoffs.

Brentwood moved into Section 2-3A last year and with the change came six new section opponents: Keystone Oaks, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Seton LaSalle, South Park, Steel Valley and Sto-Rox.

“We are hoping to get back to playoff form this year by going back to a fast, share-the-ball offense and a tough defense mentality,” Thayer said.

As is his custom, Thayer likes to rotate as many players as possible in the Spartans’ lineup.

This year’s rotation includes junior guards Forrest Betz, Aidan Barker and Colton Rosing, senior forwards Ian Harrington and Shane Palmer and senior guards Aiden Gordon and Ethan Simmons.

“And we got back Zach Wuenschell, who missed two years with injury,” Thayer said.

Wuenschell is a 6-foot-3 senior boardman who can operate at center, as a power forward or as a small forward.

The 5-11 Betz was the leading scorer among the group of players back from last year. He averaged 10.2 points per game in 2022-23 and registered 39 assists, 33 steals and 37 deflections.

“Forrest moved into the starting lineup (last season),” Thayer said. “He played a major role off the bench as a freshman.

Barker (5-11) and Rosing (5-10) are backcourt players. Barker shot 61.3% on 2-point field goal attempts in 2022-23. Rosing clicked on 24 3-point shots, picked up 18 steals and had 25 deflections.

The 5-11 Gordon and 5-8 Simmons also are backcourt specialists. Gordon had 40 rebounds, 20 steals and 23 deflections as a junior and didn’t miss a free throw (4 for 4).

Harrington, at 6-3, pulled down 89 rebounds a year ago and had 13 steals. Palmer, who stands 6-2, accounted for 99 rebounds in 2022-23 along with 37 steals and 32 deflections.

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