Take one look at Burgettstown senior Josh Mack, and it’s tough to peg him as a basketball player.
An offensive lineman, maybe. Even a wrestler.
But the 6-4, 275-pound Mack is neither. He’s pretty much a power forward trapped inside a left tackle’s body, with soft hands and quick feet that belie his size.
“I think he surprises a lot of people,” Burgettstown coach Rich Tranquill said.
Mack, who has dropped nearly 50 pounds since his junior year – he credits trading soda for water, as well as running and lifting more – is averaging 12.5 points and 11.7 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who improved to 2-2 in Section 4-AA, 5-7 overall with a 58-47 win over Fort Cherry on Tuesday night. Mack scored 21 points and added 12 rebounds.
Because of the weight he’s dropped, Mack has nearly doubled his scoring average from last season.
“I can stay on the court a lot longer now,” Mack said. “I’m a lot faster, quicker on defense, and I can jump a little bit higher.”
Mack still enjoys the teasing he hears in opposing gyms.
Earlier this season, at the EQT Energy Classic, he was serenaded with singsong chants of “Jel-ly Do-nut.” Fort Cherry’s student section urged Mack to breathe every trip up the floor – then did it in unison.
“Every game … that’s pretty much what it is,” Mack said.
But teasing Mack probably isn’t smart, especially with his ability to drive the basket or beat you with a jumper, not to mention his countless physical gifts.
“For his size, he’s very athletic,” Tranquill said. “He’s got great feet. When you look at him, you think he’s going to be a slow kid, but he’s really not. He’s quick. He’s got good feet around the hoop. He’s got very nice touch for a big man. He can shoot the ball from the outside, and he’s just powerful inside.”
#LetChavWalk gains popularity
Twitter was a busy place Wednesday afternoon in response to news that Monessen quarterback Chavas Rawlins would not be allowed to walk with his classmates for the school’s June 7 commencement because of questionable posts he made on social media.
More than 500 entries with the hashtag #LetChavWalk appeared within the first four hours of its creation, even prompting a few Steelers to get into the action.
“Monessen School board you can’t be serious? DO THE RIGHT THING & Let this Young Man WALK for his Commencement…,” backup quarterback Charlie Batch tweeted.
It was later re-tweeted by Ryan Clark, Mike Wallace, Max Starks and others.
Although Rawlins’ comments were not identified, he did speak out in support of three teammates who were found to have been keeping drugs and illegal drugs in their lockers. Rawlins has since deleted any posts pertaining to the incident.
“My boy (Chavas Rawlins) got one of the brightest futures ever to come out of Monessen. Let him walk!” tweeted Brian Fisher, a senior guard on California High School’s boys basketball team.
Avella counting on English
Less is more for Avella girls basketball coach Jim Matalik when it comes to leading scorer Olivia English.
“We’re trying to work with her on not being overly stressed when things don’t go well,” Matalik said. “She kind of plays 110 percent, and we’d like her to play at 85 or 90. I think that’s her comfort zone.”
Through 10 games, English is averaging 17.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, helping the Eagles to a 2-0 record in Section 3-A, 6-4 overall ahead of tonight’s home game against first-place Carmichaels.
Avella has won three of its past four games – with English averaging 22.8 points per contest – despite a 10-player team that forces everyone wearing a uniform to contribute.
“Sometimes we play a JV game,” Matalik said. “Not too often, though.”