Once a team reaches the PIAA basketball playoffs, the road continues to be an uphill climb.
Conemaugh Township’s boys overcame District 6-2 Bellwood-Antis
68-58 in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on Saturday.
The Indians reward is an opportunity to face the team that has one of the most recruited players in Western Pennsylvania when the District 5 champions square off against WPIAL titlist Beaver Falls and 6-foot-7 senior guard Sheldon Jeter in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Hempfield Area High School.
A starter for Beaver Falls since he was a sophomore, Jeter, who is reportedly being recruited by Wisconsin, Kansas State, South Carolina, Seton Hall and Penn State, is averaging 21 points per game, but finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Tigers 69-37 first-round victory over District 10-3 Lakeview.
“Everybody that I had talked to said that (Jeter) has it all, that he’s the real deal and everything you want in basketball player,” Conemaugh Township Lesko said.
But lest you think the team is all about one person, the Tigers used 11 different players against the Sailors and 10 of them scored. The other player in double figures for Beaver Falls was junior Drew Cook, who added 13 points against Lakeview.
Coach Doug Biega’s squad is 26-2 and last lost at the end of January to league rival Northgate, 63-54. Just days later, the Tigers made up for the loss by crushing Northgate 85-44. The team’s only other defeat was in early December, a 60-58 setback to District 10 Class A champ West Middlesex.
The task of taking on one of the state’s top teams in the round of 16 is on that has the Indians quite excited.
“How could they not be excited?” Lesko asked. “They’re one of the last 16 teams and they know they have a tough chore at hand, but they’re playing when a lot of teams are not.”
The Indians (23-3), who have won 11 district titles, won their first District 5 crown since 2005 and first in Class AA since 1975 when they defeated Chestnut Ridge on March 2.
Lesko’s squad is led by senior Grant Speigle, a 6-1 senior guard who averages 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.9 steals and
3.7 assists per game.
Dillon Boyer, a 6-0 junior guard adds 14.1 points, 5.2 re-bounds and 3 assists per game for the Indians, who average 64.3 points a game.
The other starters for Conemaugh Township include
6-3 senior forward Dan Zambanini (6.5 ppg), 5-10 senior forward Eric Ewing (4.8) and
5-9 junior guard Josh Burns (7.2).
Off the bench are 6-1 junior forward Jeff Fisher (6.2) and
6-2 junior guard Jeremy Sotosky (4.1).
“This group of kids worked very hard to get to this point,” Lesko said. “All the success is well-deserved.”