Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Transition Game Tj Basketball Finally Gets the Gang Together on Court

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Transition Game Tj Basketball Finally Gets the Gang Together on Court

Article excerpt

That the Thomas Jefferson boys' basketball team charged out of the gate, winning six of its first eight games and was riding a five- game winning streak heading into yesterday's Shady Side Academy tournament really wasn't that much of a surprise.

After all, the Jaguars won the Section 4-AAA championship last season, going 20-6 overall with a WPIAL Class AAA semifinal appearance.

What is unexpected, however, is that Thomas Jefferson was able to win its first three section contests with four of its top seven players having scarcely little time to practice the sport.

"The football team ended its season, got off the bus at 3 and literally was in the gum by 5," coach Tom Berich said.

"We had one practice [Dec. 13] and then they played against Steel Valley [a 65-56 win Dec. 14]. We had one practice with them. Think about that for a second."

Berich said he believes the WPIAL should amend its schedule and delay the start of section play until after the new year, thereby allowing schools that played in the PIAA championship game to play basketball on a level playing field.

The same is true, to an extent, with soccer players. Still, despite playing without center Bob Raimondi, forwards Dom DeCicco and Dan Geigerich and guards Even Browne and Kevin Franze, the Jaguars were off to a 4-0 start in Section 4-AAA play."I'm satisfied with our section record," Berich said. "I'm not satisfied with where we are as a basketball team."

Despite the lack of sufficient practice time, Berich said the extended football and soccer seasons do have their benefits for Thomas Jefferson.

"It's wonderful. Believe me, I'd rather be coaching kids who went 14-2 [in football] than 2-14," said Berich. "They are winners. They expect to win. They know how much hard work it takes to win."

"It helps out so much. You feed off that, feed off of their enthusiasm," forward Bill Arre said. "These guys have won a state championship in football and won two WPIAL championships in soccer and football. …

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