Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished

Hoops

The boys basketball team came into the season with many questions. How will the team do after losing seven seniors to graduation? Will their youth affect their ability to win games in such a difficult section? Will they make the playoffs? Will they even be good? Despite the questions, the Cats “hushed” the critics and they let their ability do the talking this season.

A section championship hasn’t been won for Latrobe since 2009, but the Cats certainly haven’t disappointed, by winning games and appearing in the postseason almost each season in and out.

Any WPIAL boys basketball team has to be the best in their section in order to make the playoffs, and the Wildcats have made that happen and this year…they did it again.

It’s not an easy task to go through the section without other teams beating each other up. All teams want to win against other section teams and compete at a high level.  The talent level for each team is equally spread, making almost every game tough and very competitive.

Every year the section has five or six teams battling to be in the top four by the second week of February. “A good team has to stay home, and we never want that to be us,” said Coach Wetzel.

Wetzel alluded to last season, when he was asked about how this section is tough. He mentioned that Penn Trafford, who at one point was ranked in the top three in the WPIALs, didn’t even make the WPIAL playoffs last season. PT was very competitive the entire season. Their wheels didn’t fall off, there was no collapse.  They beat two teams who won the section last year, one of them being Hempfield, who was highly competitive in the section until the end. They beat the Cats in their second to last conference game.

Every year, there are one or two teams who are like the 2013 Penn Trafford team; this year it was Connellsville. They, too, beat Latrobe in the final meeting between the two teams. The Falcons saw their season end with buzzer beater at Norwin, that knocked them out of the playoffs.

The playoff picture was set with Hempfield, the section champions, at the top followed by Kiski. They were the top dogs throughout the year and they both clinched playoffs spots during the middle of the season. Yet in spite of battling for a playoff berth at the end of the year, they were both going for a section championship.

The final two spots in Section I belonged to Norwin and Latrobe. Norwin was a team, like the Cats, who were in the top four for most of the season and had a good idea they were going to clinch a bid to the WPIAL playoffs.

The section had its top four teams ready to go to the WPIAL playoffs and Latrobe was one of those elite teams, despite all the questions from the beginning of the season.

The Cats made it to the playoffs, which accomplished one of Wetzel’s first goals.

Latrobe’s next task was to play a team who was ranked number two in the state and ranked first in Western Pennsylvania. The team, New Castle for the second straight season. They also came into the game losing twice in their last 80 basketball games, 80.

Latrobe didn’t roll over, they made the Red Hurricanes earn their win. The Cats got up to an early lead. They lead at both ends of the first and second quarter, halftime by two. Despite the leads, the Red Hurricanes heated up, and they couldn’t miss a shot. The Cats couldn’t keep up and for the second time in as many years, they fell to New Castle almost by the exact score as last season, 85-64 (last season: 85-64).

After the loss Wetzel said, “you would be proud”. They executed and had the mental discipline against the best. The Cats played their best and New Castle certainly played their best but they didn’t lay down.

Anyone can say after a long, tough battle, this was definitely another successful year of Latrobe basketball.