Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

For Bobcats 20 Wins Hits the Spot

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

For Bobcats 20 Wins Hits the Spot

Article excerpt

Depending upon the sport, there is sometimes a so-called "magic number" that exists, one that clearly distinguishes a team or player and can even be seen as an all-encompassing barometer of success.

There isn't necessarily rhyme or reason that goes into the number, but oftentimes, it just looks or feels right.

This season, the Beaver Area boys' basketball team was able to get just that -- the vaunted 20-win season.

Though their season came to an end at a relatively late juncture - - the second round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament -- the Bobcats finished 20-5, their highest win total in more than a decade.

It represents the end of what has been a slow and steady ascension to relevancy for Beaver in local high school basketball.

"Raw numbers definitely indicate that we've come a long way," Beaver coach Andy Podbielski said. "The excitement around our program and all of those things are definitely good answers. We've making our home [court] a difficult place to play as well."

These accomplishments and positive developments come not too long after Beaver wasn't far from being a perennial section doormat.

In the 2008-09 season, the year before Podbielski took over the coaching reigns, the team finished 3-17 just two years removed from a winless 2006-07 campaign in which it lost 22 games by an average of more than 22 points per game.

Steps forward soon came as the Bobcats went 11-11 two years ago before taking a much larger leap to a 19-5 season last year that saw them advance to the WPIAL semifinals and, like this season, the second round of the state tournament.

Building off the promise of that run, Beaver got off to a torrid start this season, winning its first 12 games and 15 of its first 16 to set them up for the Section 2 title it would ultimately win.

Along the way, the team averaged 64.3 points per game, the most of any team in its section (with the next-closest team almost five points behind). Leading that offensive charge was 6-foot-5 center Aaron Barlow, who averaged 21.3 points per game in the team's 20 regular-season contests.

The Bobcats will have to do some major reshuffling before next season, as Barlow will graduate along with six other seniors from the team's roster. …

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