A year ago, the Ringgold High School boys basketball team made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
There is both good news for the Rams entering this season.
The good news is Ringgold, which went 14-10 last year, is that it returns four starters from a team that advanced all the way to the PIAA playoffs. Led by Observer-Reporter All-District players in guard Chris Peccon and forward Luke Wyvratt, the Rams also have Ben Lawrence and Demetrius Butler back.
“Aside from the experience they gained last season, they have knowledge and know everything we are going to do,” said head coach Phil Pergola. “They are ready to go.”
However, the bad news, according to Pergola, is that most of the other teams in Class 4A Section 3 are in the same boat.
Section foes that are filled with returning talent.
“Everyone’s expectations are high, but I keep telling them that almost everyone has their team back,” Pergola said. “Uniontown won the section and I don’t think they lost anyone. Neither did Belle Vernon. They get Jared Hartman back from injury and picked up Devin Whitlock, who transferred from Monessen. Every night we go play it will be a tough game.”
The other teams in the section include Elizabeth Forward, Waynesburg and South Park.
The fifth starter will be senior Nate Pajak.
Pergola said the Rams have plenty of depth to create a rotation. Three guards, sophomores D.D. Dotson and Nick Peccon as well as junior Cam Halushka, could see time. A trio of forwards, sophomore Jesus Davenport and freshmen Jordan Mayer and Jake Pehowic, will spell Wyvratt and Lawrence under the hoop.
Last year’s team started hot, winning nine games in a row and eventually made the WPIAL quarterfinals for the first time since 1995.
A hunger to go further with more experience remains for Ringgold.
“I think the postseason run last year is serving as motivation,” Pergola said. “We have to refine the things we are working on. We will have a successful season if we stay healthy and play smart.”
Ringgold opens up in the Tom Traynor Tip-Off Tournament at Mt. Pleasant High School.