They have shown flashes of inexperience but they have also shown flashes of promise.
Most importantly, the Greensburg Central Catholic boys basketball team is 7-0 and 2-0 in Section 2-AA heading into the Gateway Hoops Classic that was scheduled to begin Wednesday.
The Centurions have started slow in games, as can be expected with a squad with three new starters. Yet the team has found a way to finish strong as may not be expected by a team that had to replace 11 of 17 players in the varsity and junior varsity program from last season.
Greensburg Central Catholic has won five of its seven games by single digits. It trailed Keystone Oaks by eight points at halftime at the PBC Classic and it trailed Blackhawk by seven at halftime on the road. Both times the Centurions rallied to win.
"The kids keep competing," Centurions coach Greg Bisignani said. "They keep battling and we win the close games. We have been a real competitive team. They all play hard and they play to the end."
The season started with the Indiana tipoff tournament as Greensburg Central Catholic played two teams from outside of the WPIAL. It defeated District 10 representative Grove City, 62-48, and it beat Hollidaysburg of District 6, 67-58.
In section action the Centurions got past Shady Side Academy, 70-61, and South Allegheny, 47-42.
"It has been a great start for us," Bisignani said. "The kids always play hard. To come out and have success, it just builds confidence. It is a good experience to play some of these bigger schools especially when you can walk away with a 'W.'
"These close games present us with things you just can't teach in practice no matter how hard you try."
Bisignani welcomes back two starters, senior guard Zach Hermann and junior guard Brian Graytok. Through seven games Graytok is averaging 23 points per game and Hermann is averaging 18 points per game.
"Zach is a really good shooter and Brian is a really good slasher -- he gets to the rim," Bisignani said. "They complement each other very well."
As a parochial school, Greensburg Central Catholic sometimes benefits from transfers joining the school and team, but this season it is dealing with the other side of that coin, transfers leaving the school and the team.
Of the 17 players on the roster last season, five graduated and six transferred while no new players transferred into the program.
"We have a bunch of new kids on the team, they are all getting along and they play hard," Bisignani said. "We are pretty happy with where we are."
Greensburg Central Catholic had to replace a senior class that won 67 games during the previous three seasons and reached the 2011 WPIAL and PIAA Class AA title games and 2012 WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals. That group was headlined by 6-foot-7 forward P.J. McLaughlin and guard Ben Klimchock.
Christian Hyland, a 5-10 junior point guard, 6-7 junior center Colin Bisignani and 6-1 senior swing man Ty Swan are new starters this season. Colin Bisignani, the coach's son, leads the team in rebounding.
Two football players, 6-2 senior forward Corey Marshall and 6-1 senior guard Zach Guiser, came out for the basketball team this season after not playing last season. They are two of the first players off the bench along with 6-2 sophomore guard Romano Sebastiani.
"We have a little bit of everything," Greg Bisignani said.
After the Gateway Hoops Classic, Greensburg Central Catholic returns to section action on Jan. 4 when it plays host to section foe Riverview.
The Centurions are tied for second place in the section with Serra Catholic (7-0, 2-0). Both are a half-game behind section-leading Jeannette (7-0, 3-0).
First Published December 27, 2012 5:00 AM