Youth movement leads to optimism in Brentwood basketball program
Friday, February 28, 2020 | 11:25 PM
The Brentwood boys basketball program, stacked with seven seniors, will suffer heavy graduation losses this year.
Nonetheless, help appears to be on the way.
Chase Rosing, a 5-foot junior guard, and Riley Brendel, a 6-3 junior forward, were integral members of the 2019-20 team.
There are six sophomores, along with freshmen swingmen Tavian Miller and Talan Kammermaier, that coach Dan Thayer will be counting on next season.
Brentwood’s junior varsity team rolled through most of this season undefeated, racking up a 15-0 record through the first three months. The Spartans ended up 17-1 and with enough talent to help fill some of the void left behind by the graduation of this year’s senior class.
The Brentwood JV squad posted a 12-0 record against section opponents.
“I am extremely proud of the team’s performance this season,” said Rich Fochtman, Brentwood’s junior varsity coach. “We defeated every team in our section twice. We expected this team to be pretty good at the start of the season. At times, we were absolutely dominant.
“The team consisted of a really committed group of kids who pride themselves on wanting to improve during the season and throughout the offseason. These guys also see the leadership and hard work our varsity guys model in practice every day.”
Brentwood’s starting lineup usually consisted of Rosing and Brendel at guard and forward, sophomore guard Nathan Ziegler and sophomore G/F Mitchell Fox and Josh Ziegler. Rosing and Brendel also played significant roles for the varsity.
“Chase and Riley helped set the tone for us,” Fochtman said, “and usually did not play much after the first and second quarters.”
Sophomore guards Jase Keib and Dalton Daly, sophomore forward Brady Fest, and Miller and Kammermaier contributed to the JV’s success in reserve roles.
“Nathan Ziegler really emerged as our floor general and leader,” Fochtman said. “Josh Ziegler and Jase Keib were unsung heroes who set the tone with their defensive aggression and hustle on the floor.”
The Spartans were 2-0 against section foes Jeannette, Bentworth, Carmichaels, Chartiers-Houston, California and Serra Catholic. They defeated Carlynton, Mt. Pleasant, Riverview, Fort Cherry and McGuffey in nonsection contests.
“I thought we played very well as a team,” Nathan Ziegler said, “and only having a one-loss season was great. We were focused on beating everybody we lost to last year, which we did against Jeannette and Serra.
Fochtman, Thayer’s right-hand man for nine years, said the players’ desire to win, commitment to improve and excellent work ethic were propellants to the near-perfect record in 2019-20.
“There are always guys staying after practice to improve themselves,” Fochtman said. “Every player was a scoring threat both inside and outside, which is the main reason this team improved as much as it did. We were a very difficult team to defend, and we were excited to see this group of guys improve this much.”
“One of the most interesting things was how balanced the scoring was. All 10 guys had a game where they were in double figures.”
Brentwood’s varsity team wrapped up its WPIAL season with an 18-6 record, a 9-3 section mark after a 10-0 start, and a berth in the Class AA quarterfinal round.
Tack on the JV squad’s one-loss campaign, and the program finished with 35 victories in 42 games, combining for a 21-3 mark in section play.
“Our expectations were just to become better players,” Nathan Ziegler said. “We’re losing a lot of seniors, so we know some of us are going to have to be ready to play at the varsity level next year.”
Neither Brentwood team suffered a loss in first four weeks of their schedules, going a combined 16-0.
“All of our players at the varsity and JV levels have contributed to the success of our program,” Fochtman said. “We are extremely proud of all of them.”
More Basketball• Leechburg girls coach shares special bond with team as they build for future
• Run-and-gun Leechburg boys looking to keep pedal to the floor
• Monessen girls basketball looks to maintain momentum after playoff season
• Monessen boys basketball sets sights on 40th straight playoff berth
• Girls basketball preview: Coaching hire coming soon for improving Ligonier Valley