Veteran roster has Brentwood boys off to scorching start
Sunday, January 12, 2020 | 9:33 AM
Brentwood’s boys basketball team is well on its way to having one of the best seasons in school history.
The Spartans defeated California, 66-55, on Jan. 7 to extend their record to 10-0 and 5-0 in Section 2-2A.
“We are off to a nice start,” Brentwood fourth-year coach Dan Thayer said. “We thought we had a pretty strong team at the start of the season but still came in with some question marks. We changed our style of play a little this year so we weren’t sure how that would go. The last few seasons we started slowly, so we also changed how we practiced in the preseason to try and avoid a slow start.
“You never can predict (going) undefeated, but we felt we would start a lot faster this season. With a lot of returning players, we had taken care of a lot of the big things before we even started practicing. Having a lot of the offense and defense in, we were able to focus on causes of slow starts in years past.”
Last season, Brentwood finished fourth in section play, lost to South Side, 64-59, in the WPIAL playoffs and ended up 11-11.
The Brentwood hoopsters captured their own tip-off event in early December and capped the month with a holiday tournament championship at Northgate. The Spartans kicked off their section slate Dec. 13 with a rousing 50-48 win at home against Jeannette.
Brentwood’s starting lineup consists of five seniors with C.J. Ziegler and Zach Keib in the backcourt and Jayneil Latham, John Milcic and Ian Thomas in the frontcourt.
Ziegler, a 6-foot guard and fourth-year starter, is nearing the 1,000-point mark in career scoring.
Junior guard Chase Rosing, senior G/F A.J. McPherson, junior forward Riley Brendel, senior guard Shane Lesko and sophomore G/F Mitchell Fox are the leading reserves.
“We usually play eight regularly,” Thayer said. “Our bench scoring has been a big part of our success. As we sub, we get different combinations on the floor that can change the way we play. This has given us a lot of different ways to generate offense.”
Ziegler and Keib lead the squad in scoring, averaging 19 and 14 points.
“We have been playing very well as a whole,” Ziegler said. “We knew we had a lot of experience and potential. We just have to take it one game at a time and try to keep winning.”
Latham, Milcic and Thomas pace the Spartans in rebounding.
“We have been able to win close games against really good teams, which is great,” Latham said. “It has been a whole team effort. We were expecting to be good, and now that we are winning games, we need to keep pushing on and getting better.”
The lanky Milcic, who stands 6-4, and Brendel, at 6-3, are the team’s tallest players.
“I think we’re playing good, but we’re not at our best yet, which is exciting,” Milcic said. “With all of the seniors returning this year, our expectations were to win section and make a deep playoff run.
“Now, the section goal stays the same, but we also want to get to WPIALs and into the state playoffs.”
Thomas is a powerful force who provides the Spartans with muscle on the boards.
“We are finding different ways to win each night,” he said. “I had (high) expectations for the team because we only lost one senior, and we were very talented.”
Through 10 games, Brentwood averaged 62.4 points while allowing 50 points — two of the best marks in the section.
“We always try to be an up-tempo type team on offense,” Thayer said. “We are primarily a half-court defensive team but always look for an opportunity to push the ball up the floor.”
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