Latrobe Basketball: Battling For The Top Spot

"The Varsity Basketball Team"

By Johnny Saunders

Last year the team had a “down” season, as some will say, because they didn’t make the playoffs. The team would tell you they weren’t satisfied with last year’s results and ended the season in disappointment. Yet some will also say last year’s season was predictable, because they weren’t going to have any seniors on the roster, but no excuses. This year the team has the chemistry, the experience, and the brotherhood to be atop of the section on the last day of the regular season.

This season is completely different. All five starters returned from last season. Every one of the starters this season are all special in their own ways.

Beginning with the captain, Ben Havrilla. Obviously being named Captain you have to have the qualities and Ben has the experience and leadership. Being the point guard you need to be the leader or “quarterback” and he plays a tremendous role on the 2013 team.

With his return to the district, Matt Cullen became an immediate starter due to his great athleticism, scoring ability, and his excellent on-ball defensive skills.

When you hear Will Wears, you probably think of golf but Will also makes a name for himself on the hardwood. His inside presence plays an enormous role to the team, making opponents work for the inside shots and making the defense work inside to stop him.

Mike Soforic can really spark the team’s performance getting them going with his explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. He always seems to hit that one shot early and get the momentum the team’s looking for.

The last, but not least, starter for Wildcats includes the 2012 leading scorer in Blake Reeping.   Blake brings a lot to the floor with his leadership and experience in his fourth year with the Varsity team. The hardest tasks always seem to get handed to Blake; he usually guards the opposing team’s top scorers (WPIAL’s top scorers) and/or the most aggressive players: Hempfield’s Kason Harrell, Penn Trafford’s Corey Stanford, Jeanette’s Duke Brown, and Kiski’s Adam Robison.

Every player is special on this team. The guy who sits beside him in the locker room brings something different than the guy on the other side of him. That’s what makes this team great, it creates that brotherhood.

The team has depth going eight to nine guys playing on a nightly basis. They are all very talented which makes them trust one another on and off the court. They have that trust to pass the ball and know their teammate will do something with the ball.

The Wildcats are probably the most unselfish team in the Section. Everyone gets along and loves having the opportunity to play together. The team bonding is great. During practice and in the locker rooms when the time is appropriate, the guys are always having a good time. All but a few guys have been playing basketball together for over half decade, so they all believe in each other and themselves to do great things; they believe in what they are destined: being at the top.

Last year was a disappointment to the team because they didn’t make the playoffs, which is a gigantic goal for any team, and they weren’t satisfied. This year the team has little bit of anger to let out. It’s just one of the many reasons the Wildcats are out to prove something and show people they have a legitimate shot at the Section Title after coming off a season in which they didn’t even qualify for the postseason. Other teams in the section lost seniors to graduation; with five returning starters, the Wildcats have nothing to lose.

Despite a few close games where the Wildcats have fallen, they have the mentality to work hard, get better, and overcome defeat.  Coach Wetzel’s words of wisdom keep the team going, and after the team’s lost at Hempfield he said, “Contaminate it make it weaker or you can make it stronger.”

As a great coach, John Wooden said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be”. You don’t want to live the rest of your life wishing you could have had that one back, have “NO REGRETS,” as Coach Wetzel repeats. Through defeat it brings out the true measure of a man and I know this team has what it takes to march through adversity, to win the Section Title, and to cut down the nets on February 8.