WCCA Shootout showcases ‘a good day of basketball’

Friday, July 12, 2019 | 6:35 PM

Teams try to get different things out of summer basketball shootouts.

Winning matters, but it is far from paramount.

At the third annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association Shootout on Friday, Jeannette was looking for strong participation; Norwin and Latrobe wanted some continuity; and Valley and Greensburg Salem sought out offseason reps.

To each his own.

“It’s about a good day of basketball,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “And getting everyone together in one place. It’s the time of year when you have AAU, vacations and other things. You bring who you have, but it’s a fun time.”

Fielding a full team, especially one that might resemble what the schools will roll out come the winter season, can be a challenge in July. But that was not the case with Jeannette, which went 2-0 with a full lineup that included several dual-sport players who took a break from football workouts to hit the hardwood.

In all, 15 teams played in the shootout that saw most teams play two games at Hempfield’s Spartan Field House.

“It was the first time we’ve had everyone all summer,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “Guys like Jackson Pruitt, who is probably a football guy at the next level, showed up and gave us his best effort. We had 10 guys. Any time you can win, it builds confidence.”

District 6 Ligonier Valley, sparked by the Marinchak brothers, Michael and Matthew, led Jeannette, 15-0, before the Jayhawks rallied for a win.

“We played well; it was nice to come back like that,” Pruitt said.

Norwin, guided by new coach Buddy Valinsky, also picked up two wins as the acclimation process continued for the Knights. Valinsky comes from Allderdice, where he led the Dragons to the last six City League titles.

Norwin recently won a summer shootout at Elizabeth Forward. The WCCA does not crown a winner but Norwin came home with a clean record.

“We’re working on some things and trying to build a program here,” Valinsky said. “Westmoreland County has some numbers, and this was a nice event. It was a good lesson for the kids.”

Valley returned to the shootout for a third time, another chance for the Vikings to jell in a controlled environment.

“We’re happy to be playing,” Valley coach Mark Faulx said. “It’s an opportunity to get our team experience and to be together. It’s good to get the kids that competition, make them uncomfortable; it speeds up the growth process.”

Kiski Area also looked strong at times. The Cavaliers played three games, the third to fill in for Mt. Pleasant, which pulled out of the event because of a shortage of players, organizers said.

Hempfield fielded two teams to initially even the field to 16 teams after Geibel also had to back out for the same reason as Mt. Pleasant. Hempfield finished 3-0.

“It was nice to get our younger guys some experience,” said Greensburg Salem rising senior Ryan Thomas. “It’s good for them to go against competition like we’ll see during the year.”

Assistant Joe Discello coached Burrell in its two games. Head coach Shawn Bennis resigned this week.

First-year coach Christian Hyland walked the sidelines for Greensburg Central Catholic which, like many teams, was missing some key players.

“This is a well-run event they put on,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “You get in some games and you’re home by supper. In the Westmoreland County coaching ranks, this helps to bring together our fraternity.”

Former Hempfield and Purdue Fort Wayne star Kason Harrell helped with the shootout, working a scoreboard he used to light up in other ways on one of the three courts.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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