Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schenley Upbeat despite Piaa Loss in Quarterfinals

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Schenley Upbeat despite Piaa Loss in Quarterfinals

Article excerpt

Schenley senior guard Fred Wilburn walked outside of the Spartans' locker room and relayed a message to the coach and teammates that he had just played with for the final time.

"Hey, don't worry about this," Wilburn said, as relayed by Schenley coach Fred Skrocki. "You'll get one [a PIAA title] next year for sure."

That seems to be the prevailing sentiment surrounding the Spartans (25-5), who went undefeated in winning their 16th City League championship and won 17 of 18 games before Saturday.

A 53-49 loss to Erie Cathedral Prep in the quarterfinals ended Schenley's run in the PIAA Class AAAA tournament.

But the optimism isn't based entirely on the results of 2004-05, as impressive as those are. It's more the fact that those results came with a team that relied heavily on a triumvirate of sophomores that should only improve as the years go on.

"I told them they accomplished a lot," Skrocki said. "And they are young guys.

"It will be a learning experience. Next year, they will know you have to put forth that much more effort and that much more determination.

"I told them to keep this in mind.

"They call the PIAA playoffs 'The Road to Hershey.' But it's also the road to heartbreak. Each game, while one team goes on, someone else gets its heart broken."

The pain for Schenley was even greater, thanks to a couple of "what-if" aspects. Sophomore center DeJuan Blair, who led the team in scoring with 17.8 points per game, injured his right knee in the first quarter. Skrocki challenged any team to get by after losing its 6-foot-8 focal point of the offense.

"We never experienced or prepared for playing without DeJuan," Skrocki said.

"How you practice your offense and defense, it's set up around everybody being there. You can't make up 12 to 15 rebounds a game, but offense is where his absence caused some problems.

"It could have opened up the outside game. It could have been a different story."

It could have been a different story had Blair played, but maybe not. …

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