ST. MARYS — Some standards are certainly hard to surpass.
The Elk County Catholic High School boys’ basketball team set some seriously high benchmarks last season as it cruised through the regular season, rolling to a perfect 22-0 mark before finishing the year with a 27-2 mark.
While that streak eventually reached 23-straight wins with a victory over DuBois Central Catholic in the Allegheny Mountain League semifinals, it finally came to an end with a 45-43 loss to Ridgway in the finals.
But, another four-straight victories was enough to give the Crusaders the District 9 Class A crown and a first-round victory over Leechburg in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs before things finally ended with a loss to Vincentian Academy.
Still, even with the loss of six players, the cupboard is far from bare for ECC as it returns seven from last year’s varsity roster.
“We have a number of young men who have worked very hard preparation for the season and that hard work will show on the court,” ECC head coach Aaron Straub said. “We have a team that understands our strengths and weaknesses and I am confident that they will work to become the best team that they are capable of becoming.”
Five of the seven returners are seniors including Carter Lindemuth, Ben Hoffman, Will Uberti, Leo Gregory and Regis Wortman along with juniors Mark Kraus and Jordan DePrator.
In all, the Crusaders list 18 on their roster this season, but it’s unknown how many will dress for varsity play.
Elk County did begin to incorporate some changes to their system last season and is hoping to see the progress continue this year.
“I thought that we made great strides in our strength and conditioning program under coach Scott Jacobs,” Straub said. “We look forward to building on that foundation throughout the upcoming season. Nutrition, rest, strength, conditioning and a proper mental attitude go a long way in determining how good a team can be and how much individual players can be counted on in “crunch time.”
“We also hope to gain a better understanding, and do a better job of grasping, the new offensive, defensive and transition system that we developed last year.”
Elk County is hoping that, along with its speed and quickness, will be among its strengths and contribute to its success this season.
The Crusaders will open the season at home against Kane Friday.
Seniors: Leo Gregory, Ben Hoffman, Carter Lindemuth, Will Uberti, Isaac Wortman, Regis Wortman. Juniors: Jack Bauer, Jordan DePrator, Mark Kraus, Mason McAllister, Joe Wolfe. Sophomores: Charlie Breindel, Luke Ginther, Mykey Incorminias, Luke Jansen, Ke Kang, Elliott Rupprecht, Tommy Slay.