Young Franklin Regional boys roster takes aim at 5th straight playoff berth

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019 | 7:26 PM


When Steve Scorpion took over the Franklin Regional boys basketball program two years ago, he inherited a team loaded with juniors and seniors.

Last year, he had an abundance of seniors.

Year 3 is underway and Scorpion is a little light on upperclassmen.

“It happens,” he said. “We have had some strong senior classes. Hopefully our younger guys saw what those guys did and learned from it. We have a lot of good players, but they don’t have any experience. The only way to get better is by playing varsity minutes.”

Franklin Regional will try to make it five straight playoff appearances, but it will have to endure with only three seniors — 6-foot-4 swingman Logan Summerhill, 6-7 forward Johnny O’Toole and 5-8 guard Jacob Brush.

“We have some young guys, but they can step up,” Summerhill said. “We’ll bring that dog mentality every season, that’s for sure. We want to get back to the Pete (Petersen Events Center) like two years ago when I was a sophomore.”

The Panthers followed up their WPIAL Class 5A runner-up finish of 2017-18 with a WPIAL quarterfinal appearance and a return trip to the PIAA playoffs last year.

They went 17-8 and lost to Moon in the district tournament.

Scorpion is 37-14 in two seasons and his teams have been section co-champs and section runners-up.

“The expectation is the same,” the Panthers’ alum and former Pitt-Johnstown standout said. “Teams know what to expect from us. We’re going to grind it out and be tough. I have been around the program with the majority of these kids, so they know what we want to do, what I expect from them, and they don’t get surprised when I yell at them.”

Summerhill was an off-the-bench spark player last year, while O’Toole started most of the season.

Both of their roles will expand drastically.

“Logan and Johnny are the only players we have with varsity minutes,” Scorpion said. “Logan has put a lot of work in. He’ll be able to step out and shoot or play (around the rim). He is bouncy. And Johnny has gotten a lot better. We need those guys to do a lot for us, a lot more than they’re used to.”

Brush, junior Luke Kimmich and sophomore Caden Smith will be key backcourt players, with Smith expected to run the point.

Brush “does the little things,” Scorpion said, while Kimmich has shown scoring potential as a shooter.

Kimmich played a key role on Franklin Regional’s nationally ranked soccer team this fall.

Smith is a three-sport athlete (football, baseball).

“He is a great defender,” Scorpion said. “He’s 6-2 and one of the toughest kids on the team.”

Junior Kadyn Hannah is another 6-2 forward who should give the Panthers quality minutes.

A number of backups were competing for time in the first few practices this week.

“If you (polled) the coaches in (Section 3), they’d probably have Mars No. 1 , Shaler at 2, Hampton 3 and Kiski Area at 4. We’re probably around 5,” Scorpion said. “We’ll be young, but we’re going to battle you.”

How’s this for an opening stretch on a front-loaded schedule?

The Panthers will play in the Hempfield tournament, the Mike Rettger Tournament (at Franklin Regional), then go to Hampton and play at Mars in their first two section games, all over an 11-day stretch.

“It’s a lot,” Scorpion said. “Not a lot of days off. But we’ll be ready to go.”

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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