Boys Basketball Season Preview

Jackson+Juzang+carries+the+ball+up+the+field+during+a+playoff+game+against+Jefferson-Morgan+at+Peters+Township

Jackson Juzang carries the ball up the field during a playoff game against Jefferson-Morgan at Peters Township

Helen Zhang, Staff Writer

You could say that the Boys Basketball Team has had quite a bit of success come its way in the past few years compared to before. 

It first started with winning a section title during the 2018-19 season. Then came their first 2 hard-fought playoff wins to advance to the semifinals, and subsequently their first state-playoff appearance. Last year, they were able to advance to the quarter finals, playing both victorious preliminary and first round matches.

But, like always, the Bears are well-equipped and unafraid to use it. After the 2020-21 season, the team bid farewell to senior Ahbi Yadigiri. Despite that, they had lost only one player on a then-loaded and still loaded roster. The two most notable returners are Lance Nicholls and Jackson Juzang, who earned All-WPIAL honors with the latter being nominated as Section 2A-3 Player of the year. Juzang also managed to earn a spot on the 2A Fab 5 with other players from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Springdale, and Greensburg Central Catholic.

Other notable returners include Jack Ander-Jussen, Henry McComb, Thomas Harrison, and Anshu Yadigiri. Although senior Charles Denko is still out from a nagging injury, the Bears have more than made up for this. Along with old players rejoining due to the improved COVID situation such as Alexander Rotondi, WT has gained a mirriad of talented transfers, freshmen, and other upperclassmen who haven’t played previously.

Senior Michael Bruni brings a wealth of experience as well as technical skill to the team. The transfer helped Bethel Park clinch onto playoff berths for the past 2 seasons in challenging Section 6A-2, which includes reigning WPIAL 6A Champs Upper St. Clair. Dubbed “The Bug” by his former teammates and Bethel Park’s student newspaper The Hawk Eye, Bruni is known for creating havoc for his opponents on the court and will certainly be a useful asset on our team this winter.

Next up is Junior Mert Akdogan. This year, Mert joined the soccer team and made notable contributions to the team, playing lengthy chunks in most games including the WPIAL and PIAA championships. And he did all of the above with very little formal experience in soccer. In the realm of Basketball, Akdogan has much more experience than soccer, playing in the amateur Ankara city league since he was twelve, achieving much success with multiple playoff runs and winning a small tournament with his school team. This year, Mert thinks the team has a “good chance of winning the championship” and “experiencing basketball in a different country”

And lastly, we end off this showcase with some words with this year’s captain, the aforementioned Jackson Juzang. “Our goal this year is to win every game that we can, as well as win WPIALs” says Juzang. For the past three years, you could say that OLSH has had a monopoly WPIAL title game as they have won all of them and enter with the season as the reigning state champions. But Juzang is confident in the team. “I think if we can play well and play a complete game, then we can beat OLSH. But to do this, we as a team need to work on rebounding and having the physical edge over our opponents.”

Overall, the future seems bright for the team, and it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the thawing of the COVID-19 landscape combined with the consistent intensity of high school sports. Cheer on the Boys over the course of the season as they fight for section titles, playoff berths, and beyond.