Zavasky displays shooting touch off the bench for Pine-Richland boys basketball

Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM

When Nate Zavasky has an open look, Pine-Richland boys basketball coach Bob Petcash is typically yelling “shoot it.”

Zavasky showed why late in the third quarter in a game with North Allegheny Jan. 14 when he drained a deep 3-pointer that put the Rams ahead, and they went on to win 72-64.

That shot scratched the surface in terms of the impact Zavasky, a senior, had off the bench that night. He scored 13 points, hit a trio of 3-pointers and provided a boost after Andrew Alexander picked up his second foul just a few minutes into the game.

It also displayed that even though Zavasky doesn’t start on the Rams’ senior-heavy team, he plays a pivotal role in their success.

“He gave us an early spark, and that’s what I expect of Nate is to come in and shoot it,” Petcash said.

“He has the best pure shot on the team. You’ll hear me screaming in the game at him to shoot, because I believe in him more than he believes in himself. Once he has that confidence, he can have a night like (last Friday). Those are the little things I tell everyone. You never know when your number is going to be called and you’re going to be asked to play your role. If everyone plays their role, they help this program get in a good spot.”

If Zavasky needed a confidence boost, the North Allegheny game provided it, but it also affirmed that what he has done to improve himself as a player was worth it.

“It’s a long time in the making,” Zavasky said. “I’ve been waiting for this my entire life and I’ve been working really hard. It all starts in the offseason. When I’m not working, I feel like someone else is. Every day in the summer I worked on ball-handling, shooting, watched old film and I think we all do that well as a team.”

It also helps that Zavasky has fully bought into the role he plays on the team behind five fellow seniors: Alexander, Jameson O’Toole, Joey Dudkowski, Andy Swartout and Luke Shanahan.

He embraces being the sixth man and the attributes needed for that responsibility.

“The five guys a head of me are really good players,” he said. “When I come in need to play hard defense. If I’m not in then when I do get in I need to bring the team a spark.”

The Rams will need more contributions from Zavasky and other bench players like Owen Luellen and Andrew Lamendola as they continue to navigate a difficult Class 6A. They had lost five games by a total of 14 points through Jan. 14, including three in overtime, but were in second place in Section 1 at 4-2 entering a Friday showdown with first place North Hills. Four of the five teams in the section will make the playoffs and all have at least two wins, so it should be a tight race all the way through the regular season.

“We need all of our guys to step up. I can’t have just five,” Petcash said. “We need 13 guys playing their role, because 6A is a beast this year. Every game for us is a war, and every section game is a playoff game. All of the coaches in our section are outstanding, and that makes for a battle every night.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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