Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surging Riverside in Hunt Panthers Seeking Wpial Playoff Berth

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Surging Riverside in Hunt Panthers Seeking Wpial Playoff Berth

Article excerpt

December was a tough month for the Riverside boys basketball team.

After collecting a pair of victories at their own tip-off tournament, the Panthers struggled through the next few weeks and lost five of seven games.

"With the young group we have, only a few guys had varsity experience entering the season," Riverside coach John Rorick said. "The more experience they've received, the better they've played.

"We played a tough schedule in December, and that helped us with what we're doing now."

January seems to be going a bit better for Rorick's team.

Riverside (10-6, 5-2) won six consecutive games and slipped into second place in Section 2-AA before falling to section-leading Summit Academy, 49-44, last Friday. The Panthers were scheduled to play at Vincentian Wednesday night in a non-conference game and at Neshannock Friday.

"We've been playing pretty well," Rorick said. "We have a young team, so we went through a lot of ups and downs in the beginning of the season. The guys have since manned together and have played well as a group."

And Rorick has witnessed a complete turn around in improvement from his team.

"Our defense has always been our staple," Rorick said. "We've played good team defense. And offensively, we've cut down our turnovers and that has given us more possessions and more chances to score.

"Our shooting percentage from the floor and free-throw line is going up, and we're taking care of the basketball. We're scoring and the guys don't care who's doing it, either.

"They just want to win, no matter how they do it. They're sharing the ball and our success is because they're so unselfish."

Rorick's starting five consists of juniors. They are guards Dom Vetica, Bob Gould and Brent Mulneix along with 6-foot-5 forwards Tyler Falk and Gig Jewell.

Junior guards Damian Cicchinelli and Dylan Jones as well as senior forward Austin Oberg and junior forward Evan Williams have logged quality minutes off the bench.

Falk leads the group in scoring with an average of 14 points. Jewell is chipping in with 12 ppg, while Mulneix is averaging 11 points and five assists.

"They all have been consistent," Rorick said. "They all understand their roles and play them well. …

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