Westmoreland County senior spotlight: Jeannette’s Isaiah Mallich

Monday, December 4, 2023 | 10:54 AM

Last year, Jeannette’s boys basketball team lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs to Northgate.

There are plenty of reasons for the Jayhawks not to dwell on that defeat. It came at the end of a perfectly respectable regular season — they went 13-8, 7-5 in section play — and the sixth-seeded Flames ended up being the surprise of the Class 2A tournament, going all the way to the WPIAL final.

But for senior Isaiah Mallich, it’s a game he doesn’t want to forget.

It’s motivating him as the 2023-24 season starts.

“I saw what the seniors looked like after that final game last year, and I don’t want that to be me,” Mallich said.

The Northgate game was the last in a Jeannette jersey for several key players, and the Jayhawks come into this season as one of the youngest teams coach Adrian Batts has seen in his time.

To complicate matters, junior Lonnie Greene suffered an ACL injury during football season, chipping away at the experience Jeannette had on its roster.

That doesn’t exactly faze Mallich, who has unwavering confidence in some of the underclassmen.

“Some of the younger guys are just going to have to step up, but I think we’ll adjust,” Mallich said.

Jeannette should be able to establish some chemistry during an early season schedule with several notable dates. They were set to open the season against the hosts at the Norwin tip-off tournament, they’ll host Burrell in the WCCA Showcase on Dec. 9 and they’ll meet Connellsville and Yough at the Greensburg Salem holiday tournament.

It also will give them time to adjust schematically, as the Jayhawks look to lean on the backcourt play of the guards a little more, rather than their big men in years past.

Again, different isn’t really a word that rattles Mallich.

“I’m excited about the team’s new look and ready to accept the challenge of the new identity,” he said.

Being a guard himself, Mallich will be one of the keys to securing another postseason berth, and this time, hopefully, going on a long playoff run.

The team’s goal might be considered lofty by some, but, in Mallich’s mind, it’s completely within reach.

“We want to win the section this year,” he said. “I think if we win that, we have a shot at a championship this season.”

Mallich is undecided about his future after high school, but he would like to continue playing basketball somewhere.

Before his season starts, Mallich took some time for a senior spotlight Q-and-A:

How did you get started with basketball?

I started playing rec basketball at around age 5.

What does your leadership role look like this year?

I have a much larger role than past years, but I think coach Batts has done a good job preparing me to take that leadership role.

What is your role on the court?

My role is being the leader of the team. This being my fourth year playing varsity, I’m the one who the guys will look at when things get tough because I’ve experienced it.

How important are those nonsection games early in the season to establish chemistry?

I think a lot of the chemistry is already there. With the main group we have this year, most of us have been playing together for years now, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

What is one thing that people may not know about you?

I lived in Jeannette my whole life but didn’t attend the school until my freshman year.


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