Jebbia’s Patriots Will Be Lacking in Experience
By JOSH STROPE
WHEELING — It’s not too often a school the size of Wheeling Park has inexperience on its basketball team, but that is the situation Coach Michael Jebbia and his coaching staff finds themselves in as training camp hits.
Wheeling Park returns two starters from last season’s 14-9 squad and Jebbia will rely heavily on them as the rest of the roster will be a work in progress throughout the season.
“The biggest thing is we need to try and stay positive, even when negative plays happen,” Jebbia, entering his 11th season as head coach, said. “There are going to be bad plays. There are going to be bad games. We need to stay united and continue to get better.
“These sophomores are going to be good. You are probably going to see glimpses of it throughout the season, but they are going to have their ups and downs.
“Every once in a while you have a season where you have very little seniors and that is what we have here. Just one of those rare years.”
Rhett Schodzinski and Maezi Mosby are the lone returning starters for the Patriots.
Schodzinski is a 6-foot-3 two-year letterman. The senior averaged 9.1 points per game in his junior season and has made 60 3-pointers in the past two seasons.
Mosby is a 5-9 senior who started the second half of last season. A good defender who provides a lot of energy, Mosby shot 35 percent from 3-point range.
“Rhett was the sixth man as a sophomore and contributed a lot last year,” Jebbia said. “Maezi is one of the biggest contributors. They are going to be leaders.
“The main thing is the leadership we are expecting from them. They are going to have to score more for us and keep us in the games. Maezi’s best quality is he is a solid defender and good perimeter shooter.”
Issac Davis (6-2) is another senior who help out inside and is a solid rebounder.
The biggest question mark may be junior Nate Phillips. Phillips would have been in line to be a starter, but a broken collarbone suffered during football season will likely keep him sidelined until after the new year.
“He has played a good bit for us and last year and even started a few games. He will be a good scorer but we are just unsure right now when he will be able to get back on the court,” Jebbia said.
Brian Goodwin is a 5-11 wing player that can help with scoring and is good at attacking the basket.
“He has come up through the program and has really done a lot of the good things for us offensively,” Jebbia said. “We just need to get him caught up a little bit defensively.”
At 6-2, Elijah Williams will come off the bench and be a help in rebounding.
A talented sophomore class starts with Jack Stakem, who Jebbia believes could be a breakout player for the Patriots. Stakem will compete for the starting point guard position and has improved his perimeter shot.
“He is a basketball junkie,” Jebbia said.
Another sophomore looking to make an impact is Keondre’ King. The 6-2 wing will compete for minutes and help with scoring. He also has deep Wheeling Park ties as the son of 1999 Girls’ W.Va. Player of the year KeTara Lee and grandson of 1977 all-stater Keith ‘Silk’ Creighton.
Donovan Goodard is a good defender that has come a long way in the past year.
“Keondre’ has all the tools, as does Jack Stakem,” Jebbia said. “Those two can be steady players for us for a long time.
“Donovan Goodard has probably been our most-improved player. He brings a lot of energy and has really improved his defense and ball skills. If you would have told me a year ago he would have made this jump, I might not have believed you. But he has put himself in a position to play a lot as a sophomore.”
Others looking to contribute are juniors Alex Puskarich (6-1), Logan Tucker (6-9), Marcus Jordan (5-10), Adam Haggerty (5-10), and sophomores De’Vaughn McWhorter (5-8) and Jacob Shia (5-9).
The biggest addition may be beside Jebbia where veteran coach Gene Ammirante has joined the staff. Ammirante was the coach at Bellaire for 30 years and, most recently, helped out the younger kids coaching 8th grade at Bridge Street Middle School.
“He has been great,” Jebbia said. “We had an opening and we have been life-long friends. He was happy to jump on board. He sees things from a different perspective and just to be able to lean on him has been really good. He helps with the youth programs with his ‘Saturday Mornings with Coach A.’ He just loves it.”
Along with Ammirante, the other assistant coaches are Tony Marvin, Terry Payne, Shaun Black and Josh Yost.