Dereck Riggleman’s freshman basketball season did not go as planned at Mapletown High School. The Maples went 2-22 and allowed the most points in the WPIAL while Riggleman struggled with consistency in his first year of varsity basketball.
The rest of his career has been a steady climb as the win total improved and Riggleman became one of the top offensive threats in Class A.
Last season, Mapletown won six games and made the WPIAL playoffs, where the Maples lost to top-seeded Lincoln Park. Riggleman averaged 21.6 points per game. The Maples won seven games this year, again lost to the eventual state champion Leopards in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs and Riggleman averaged 24.3 points per game.
“It was an all-around good year,” Riggleman said. “I improved my stats. I scored more, I passed more and tried to be more of a team player. It’s an improvement from last year and overall, from my freshman year until now, it’s been a huge improvement and great experience.”
The performance earned him a spot in the Washington-Greene County All-Star Game. Riggleman will play for Chartiers-Houston head coach Eugene Briggs’ South team tonight in the boys game at Wash High.
The girls game is set for 6:30 p.m. and the boys game at 8 p.m.
Briggs, who assisted in organizing the event with the Washington Rotary Club, is excited about the turnout for the game that will feature two 11-man squads for the boys game. He is thrilled to coach players he’s heard about, such as Riggleman, but did not get the chance to see play this season.
“You hear about this one or that one, and it’s nice to see them play,” Briggs said. “It’s probably more fun to get to know these kids and see that they are nice kids. For me, it’s fun to watch my guys interact with these other guys who they have been battling with their whole high school career.”
Riggleman plans to make the most of the opportunity he has earned as one of the area’s most prolific scorers. He set a school record Jan. 9 with a memorable performance against section rival Geibel. The 5-10 guard entered the game needing 33 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He responded with a career-high 51 points to lead the Maples to a 66-60 win.
Riggleman is ready to match his skills with the opposition, which is coached by Charleroi’s Bill Wiltz and features a contingent of players from Greene County.
“It’s a great experience,” Riggleman said. “Coming in here the first day and seeing the athletes and making it through both days of tryouts shows what hard work can do from my freshman year until now. Seeing all of these guys, it’s great to see that I’m able to play with them. Most of the people from my (South) team I don’t really know.”
Picking the teams was a unique experience for Briggs and Wiltz, who are longtime friends. Each player filled out an information card before tryouts and after the process was over, the two coaches picked their respective teams like a fantasy football draft. Briggs selected three of his players from Chartiers-Houston, while Wiltz took three Charleroi players.
Riggleman ended up being picked by Briggs, who was impressed by his shooting ability and skills on both ends of the court. The Maples’ leading scorer is excited for the unfamiliar nature of an all-star game, which usually ends with both teams reaching 100 points.
“This is kind of like a pickup-game experience,” Riggleman said. “You really don’t get to play man-to-man defense at our school and we get to play it here. They said they usually get into the hundreds, so it’s going to be fun.”