Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

AMBRIDGE CHAMP OF SUMMER LEAGUE [Corrected 08/02/14]

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

AMBRIDGE CHAMP OF SUMMER LEAGUE [Corrected 08/02/14]

Article excerpt

The Ambridge Area boys varsity basketball team has improved in each of the two seasons since Mark Jula took over the head coaching position.

If Ambridge's performance at the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Summer League is any indication, the Bridgers look poised to run their improvement streak to three years this upcoming school year.

Ambridge went 10-2 in the summer league, including a perfect 4-0 in the playoffs to capture the big schools (Class AAAA/AAA) title last week.

"Most summer work is individualized," Jula said. "It's about the players getting better individually. But this gave us an opportunity to experience game situations as a team and get better as a team.

"Now we can use July to have the players get better individually."

It's taken Jula just two seasons to turn Ambridge back into a force to be reckoned with in WPIAL Class AAA.

The Bridgers won just five of their 42 games during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, leading to Ambridge hiring Jula, who has previously coached at WPIAL schools Moon Area, Butler Area, North Allegheny and Center.

Jula currently is sitting on 498 career wins.

Ambridge went 14-9 in Jula's first season winning a preliminary- round WPIAL playoff game. This past season, the Bridgers won 17 games again winning its preliminary-round postseason game before falling to Uniontown.

But this upcoming season looks like it could be special for the Bridgers. They return six lettermen, led by WPIAL Class AAA Section 2 player of the year Stephon McGinnis. A 5-foot-7 point guard, he averaged 20.1 points per game last season. He has been the Bridgers' most impressive player this summer, too.

"He's played like an MVP all summer," Jula said. "He's had the best summer of anyone I've ever coached. He works hard and just loves getting better."

He also has plenty of talent surrounding him. …

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