Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sewickley Preparing for Deep Run Panthers Hoping Difficult Non-Section Schedule Has Them Ready for Shot at Title

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sewickley Preparing for Deep Run Panthers Hoping Difficult Non-Section Schedule Has Them Ready for Shot at Title

Article excerpt

Many coaches give a familiar answer when asked to assess the expectations they have for their teams.

"We're taking it one game at a time," they'll say.

Don't count Sewickley Academy's Win Palmer among those who use this "coach-speak." Palmer admits he and his team have discussed winning a WPIAL title this season after falling one win shy a season ago.

"We've talked about it. We recognize it's one of the reasons why we're playing so difficult of a non-section schedule. Our guys want to keep progressing. They know anything can happen in the playoffs, but they want to prepare themselves for them and hopefully make a long run," Palmer said.

Sewickley Academy is 5-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class 2A. The Panthers have beaten 6A Baldwin and 5A Thomas Jefferson, lost to 6A North Allegheny by four points, and play Kennedy Catholic Saturday. Kennedy Catholic is the defending PIAA 1A champion and is ranked No. 1 in the state. The Panthers host Bishop Canevin in a Section 3 showdown tonight.

Palmer's veteran backcourt is leading the way. Seniors Justin Pryor and Chris Groetsch are three-year starters who were all-section picks last season. Pryor averages 17.2 points per game, while Groetsch averages 14.3 and leads the team in assists.

"It's a real bonus when you have two three-year starters used to playing together. Chris and Justin are both aggressive athletes, but manage to play under control. They use their athleticism, but also play controlled basketball. Justin just passed the 1,000-point mark [career points] in the [North Allegheny] tournament. Chris is approaching it."

Nate Ridgeway, a 6-5 forward, is a talented sophomore who leads the team in scoring with 19.6 points per game. Ridgeway scored the winning basket just before the buzzer in overtime to lift Sewickley Academy to a WPIAL semifinal win against Jeannette last season. The Panthers went on to lose to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the championship, but rebounded to reach the PIAA semifinals, where they fell to Kennedy Catholic.

Junior Dave Groetsch - Chris' brother - and 6-5 senior Declan Hickton are the other starters. …

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