Flexibility is key for Panther boys' basketball team

Keystone head coach Greg Heath feels he has one of the most versatile rosters he has had in some time

This article is part of a continuing series previewing the Clarion County boys' basketball teams for the 2019-20 season.

By Ryan S. Pugh

CLARION NEWS Sports

Editor

KNOX

No matter what the sport, having options is always a benefit.

If there is one thing the Keystone boys' basketball team has in 2019-20; it's options.

"This is a little bit different team this year than the team we had last year," Keystone head coach Greg Heath said. "We can put a big lineup out there; we can put a small lineup out there. I can put a pretty good shooting team on the floor or I can put a team on the floor that can really get after it defensively. We have a lot of flexibility."

Moreover, Heath feels the players themselves offer a lot of flexibility individually.

"We have a lot of ‘complete' players on this team," Heath said. "We have players that can post up down low as easily as they can shoot from the outside."

The Panthers finished 2018-19 with an 18-8 record and advanced to the PIAA playoffs.

Heath believes the success of last year should pay dividends this season.

"I think we got a lot of confidence from last year," Heath said. "I think this team is pretty excited and confident about the season ahead."

Seniors Troy Johnson, Andrew Lauer, Isaak Jones and Alex Rapp headline the will likely see a good chunk of playing time for the Panthers this season.

One player who took a major step forward last year in his junior season was Johnson. In last year's KSAC championship game against Clarion-Limestone, Johnson almost single-handedly got the Panthers a comeback win scoring seven points in Keystone's final surge.

"Some people questioned when he was in ninth and 10th grade, ‘how good is this kid going to be?' basing it on how good his sisters were at basketball at Keystone," Heath said. "I said, ‘give this kid a chance. He's going to be a good player.'"

Heath continued, "(Troy) works hard at the game and he is extremely competitive and he has really developed a complete game. He wants the ball in pressure situations."

Johnson's aforementioned sisters are Morgan and Madison Johnson who were both recruited to play Division I college basketball.

Also likely to see time for Keystone are seniors Mark Rearick, Jayden Blazosky and Nate Ion, juniors Colin Say, Brandon Pierce, Logan Sell, Gavin Hogue and Cameron Easton.

"Our biggest strength this season is our depth," Heath said. "We can play up-tempo more than we have in the past because we have such depth."

Heath believes if his team does the little things right, the 2019-20 season should be a successful one for the Panthers.

"We have to come to play every night," Heath said. "We have to have consistency."

Keystone opens the season Dec. 6 as host of the Keystone Tip-Off tournament.