Westmoreland notebook: New coach Hyland ready to lead GCC basketball

Saturday, June 8, 2019 | 7:23 PM

Christian Hyland remembers the encouraging words coming from his coach, Greg Bisignani, during his Greensburg Central Catholic senior banquet in 2014.

Bisignani told the room of players, coaches, parents and supporters he thought Hyland had all the intangibles and one day would make a fine coach. Bisignani said he would be “shocked” if Hyland didn’t become a head coach.

Five years later, Hyland is replacing Bisignani as the man in charge at GCC.

“To have him say that … and I’m the one who gets to take over for him was pretty cool,” Hyland said. “I’m super grateful for coach Bis. The opportunity to play for him as well as be with him on staff for basically the last eight or nine years was what any young player and coach could dream of.

“To watch him build a winning program year after year, as well as his love for GCC and the amount respect people off the court have for him, was remarkable.”

Hyland will be one of the youngest coaches in the WPIAL next season. At 23, he is barely removed from his playing days as a Centurions guard.

Hyland stayed around the program with Bisignani, serving as an assistant under him for three years. He also coached a season with Tony Morocco at Seton Hill.

Bisigani resigned a second time after he fulfilled his agreement to lead the Centurions for one more year. He recommended Hyland as his successor.

Bisignani coached GCC for eight seasons, spent one year as an assistant under Jim Nesser, then returned as coach last season. He helped GCC to a 17-7 record and a return to the WPIAL playoffs (the team missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years the previous season). The former coach had a record of 204-39 in nine seasons with eight section titles, two WPIAL finals trips and a PIAA title game appearance.

“Christian’s maturity is beyond his years,” Bisignani said. “He knows the program because he has been around it. With that experience, I felt confident recommending him. He was our point guard, and he always seemed to know the situation and what to do best.”

The Centurions made the WPIAL Class AA championship and the PIAA semifinals when Hyland was a senior. Hyland was an assistant at GCC while he attended classes at Pitt-Greensburg.

Hyland believes he is ready to handle the head-coaching reins and all the extracurriculars that come with the job.

“From playing at such a young age and into college, I had some great experiences on the court as a player,” he said, “as well as being a coach’s son really helped me understand the game at a different level.”

Bisignani said, “From an X’s and O’s standpoint, he’s ready to go. This generation needs young coaches.”

Hyland spends much of his spare time training up-and-coming basketball talent. He started a personal training business four years ago, “Hyland Hoop Academy.”

He works with grade-school, high school and college-level players.

Ed Zimmerlink will remain on staff as an assistant.

Bach almost drafted

Some were surprised Yough senior pitcher Jarett Bach was not taken in last week’s MLB Draft. Turns out, the big left-hander came quite close to getting selected.

Bach, a hard-throwing, 6-foot-5 standout for the Cougars, was in contact with the Baltimore Orioles, said his father, Ken. He was offered “fifth-round money.”

Bach is a Pitt commit and will honor his pledge to the Panthers.

He did not want to mortgage his future by signing too early a contract with which he was not comfortable. His lack of signability chased away Baltimore — for now.

Like many pro-caliber players with raw talent, the draft could come calling again in a few seasons. Many players have turned down thousands to make millions.

“Jarett had a good offer to go, but we felt it had to be a crazy good offer for him to forgo Pitt,” Ken Bach said. “He is a really smart kid going for engineering and should be much better off in three years if all goes as planned. It stinks for him to not get picked but best thing in the long run.”

Recruiting trail

Ligonier Valley will have a bulky and talented offensive and defensive line next football season thanks to three Division I prospects.

Attention continues to grow for the trio of Michael Petrof, Christian Jablonski and Wylie Spiker.

Petrof (6-foot-2, 275 pounds) is up to 15 D-I offers, the latest coming from Delaware, New Hampshire, Youngstown State and Sacred Heart. Others are from Navy, Air Force and a number of Ivy League programs.

Jablonski (6-5, 260) also added offers from Holy Cross and New Hampshire to go with others from Lehigh, Richmond, Dartmouth and Fordham.

Spiker (6-3, 260) has an offer from Duquesne.

Hempfield junior lineman Fintan Brose (6-3, 280) picked up an offer from Delaware, where his brother plays. Braden Brose is a sophomore tight end for the Blue Hens.

Penn-Trafford junior running back and linebacker Caleb Lisbon (6-1, 195) also was offered by Delaware. Lisbon has another offer, from Albany.

Penn-Trafford junior soccer player Haley Hofmeister committed to Division III Aurora in Illinois. Hofmeister plays outside back for the Hotspurs Club.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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