Boys Basketball Preview: Newcomers hope to make impact on the hardwood

The Golden Eagles lost four of five 2014-2015 starters to graduation but hope to reload this season

The 2015-2016 varsity and jv boys basketball teams (left to right): Row 1: Gary Weaver, Parker Mitchell, Michael Lewis, Jake Meredith, RaShawn Hicks, Dylan Thomas, Joe Kohler, Andrew Lang Row 2: Zack Soellner, Alex Weaver, Anthony Politza, Andrew Ferguson, Hunter Anderson, Noel Politza, and Denver Light.

With only two seniors  and two returning letter winners from last year’s Mountain League Championship team, it would be easy to characterize this as a rebuilding year for the Tyrone boys basketball squad.

However, with senior Anthony Politza, a first team Mountain League all star selection, along with several new impact newcomers there are still reasons for 10th year head coach George Gripp to be optimistic for the 2015-2016 campaign.

“We graduated six key contributors from least year’s team [but] we have a great group of hard working kids who want to improve everyday,” said Gripp.

Senior Zack Soellner
Senior Zack Soellner

Senior Zack Soellner and sophomores Jake Meredith Parker Mitchell will definitely step into more prominent roles.

Outside of those four, several new and inexperienced players will find themselves with large amounts of varsity time, including Dylan Thomas, Hunter Anderson, and Michael Lewis.

Two other newcomers who will have a chance to make an immediate impact are cousins Gary and Alex Weaver.

Alex recently moved into the district from Altoona and Gary, coming off a very successful 2015 football season, returns to the hardwood after a year hiatus.

Alex will provide outside shooting, height, and athletic ability while Gary will compliment sophomore Jake Meredith as a second ball handler and athletic guard.

“I’m really glad to see Gary and Alex come out this year,” said senior Anthony Politza, “without them our numbers would be a little low.”

Also joining the varsity team are sophomores Joe Kohler, RaShawn Hicks and Andrew Lang and freshman Denver Light, Andrew Ferguson, and Logan Reader.

Senior Anthony Politza
Senior Anthony Politza

“This season will be super competitive and as it progresses we will get better and better,” said senior Zack Soellner.

The Mountain League may be the most competitive it has been in years with almost every team losing key players from last season.

“Clearfield seems to be the favorite to win the league this year, but my money is on my guys,” said Head Coach George Gripp at Tyrone’s Meet the Eagle last Sunday night.

Gripp (149-68) will be looking for his 150th career coaching win on Friday when Tyrone begins its season with the hardwood version of the Backyard Brawl at Bellwood. Tyrone defeated Bellwood last season, but stopping Nathan Davis, one of the best players in the area, will be a challenge.

“We lost a lot of shooters last year, so I’m worried about our capability to make outside shots,” said Coach Gripp.

If Tyrone can stop Davis and make their shots, another hardwood Backyard Brawl will be Tyrone’s for the taking.  Tip-off is Friday at 7:00 pm in Bellwood.