Team Preview: Conestoga HS – Berwyn, PA (Central League) –

Last year was a mixed bag for sure for the Pioneers as they came up short in their bid for the PIAA 6A state tourney. Like all teams they had some good moments during the season as they handed Lower Merion their first league loss of the season and of course the Aces went on to win the Central League. They captured the Boyertown, PA HS Christmas tourney with two solid outings where everything seemed to be clicking. They were in the league playoff hunt until a buzzer beating 3 pointer vs. Garnet Valley ended their hopes but had already amassed enough points to qualify for the district tournament. They won their first district game over a tough Cheltenham squad in OT to set up a meeting with league rival Lower Merion. The rubber match in their season series would go to the Aces sending ‘Stoga to the playback rounds. They slipped past North Penn in OT then met up with Neshaminy with a state berth on the line. In a hard fought contest the Pioneers came up short 59-55 as Chris Arcidiacono went off for 34pts and Conestoga had no answer as their season came to a close.

Even with graduation losses ‘Stoga has plenty of talent returning starting with 5'11' '19 Zach Lezanic their mercurial PG who possesses a slick handle which affords him access to wherever he needs to go on the court whether pressured or not. He can get into the lane to make plays from pulling up for the jump shot or accurate dish to a teammate or he can get past his man and get to the basket for the layup. He has a nice stroke with deep range and I've seen him pull up from beyond the arc and drill high arcing jumpers with regularity. He has some toughness too as he engages you on defense making you earn anything you get. He's a solid player who has strong D-II interest but I think he could help someone at the D-1 level if given the chance and maybe a prep year could help in that regard. One of Zach's backcourt partners will be 6'1' '19 Milt Robinson a tough as nails SG who sports a high motor and makes plays with fierce determination. His handle is adequate and his passing game could use some work but he can get to the basket and finish and can hit some perimeter shots as well. When in the paint he will defend with vigor and is not a bad rebounder despite his size. 6'0' '19 Shane Scott is still another guard who will help out as a combo who has a pure jump shot but can also find open teammates with clever passes for scoring opportunities. Looking at underclassman in the backcourt 6'2' '20 Conner Steele is another guy who can gixe you minutes at either position as he looks to be a decent shooter and fine passer who knows HC Mike Troy's system and can slot in where needed. 6'1' '21 Jack Liedtai is another potential piece for the backcourt but I didn't get a true read on him so next time I view the Pioneers I'll have to watch him a little closer.

The frontcourt for the Pioneers will have 6'4' '19 Evan Medley who will be more of a wing on offense. He has a good looking shot and can knock down perimeter jumpers as well as take it to the basket for tough finishes and since part of Conestoga's success is predicated on spreading the ball around he will also prove that he can pass the ball as well. On the defensive end Medley will no doubt slide inside to help in the paint where he'll have to defend and rebound down low. His presence there should be a help to 6'6' '21 Andrew Fox who has some upside but lacks the upper body strength to make a difference right away. He does show some skills offensively and showed a little bit of his emerging game at the Big 64 a few weeks ago. He moves fluidly in the post and he has guards that can definitely get him the ball so he just has to keep working on refining his skillset because I think he's going to be really good in a year or two. On the defensive end he challenged opponents in the paint and managed to block a shot or two which was really encouraging. I will absolutely be following this young man's progress over the next three years.

If nothing else Coach Troy has kept Conestoga near the top of the Central league for years and I suspect that will be the case this year as the Pioneers will contend for league honors and a spot in the four team playoff at season's end. Because this team moves the ball so well some games will be decided by a few points so hitting shots will be paramount to their success and this team has shooters but in basketball some days there may be a lid on the hoop so if ‘Stoga can defend well they will definitely be in contention for the league post season tourney. From there I expect them to make the district tourney but they will need some of these young guys to step up their development if they want to earn a spot in the PIAA 6A state tournament which may be out of their reach right now. The good thing about this is that it's only September and Coach Troy has time to iron out this groups shortcomings.

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