South Xtra: Versatile Brentwood senior scoring big
Share with others:
Don't bother telling Jason Pilarski about high school athletes who only focus on one sport.
A senior at Brentwood, Pilarksi competes for four different teams during the school year, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love sports," he said. "I like playing these sports and I might as well do it now in high school while I still can."
During the fall, Pilarski split time between playing defender for the boys soccer team while also serving as the football team's place kicker. In the winter, he's a starting guard for the boys basketball team and he plans on returning to the baseball diamond to pitch and play the infield in the spring.
"Basketball is my real passion," he said. "I play hard and try my best in all of them, but I really like playing basketball."
A 6-foot-1 shooting guard, Pilarski ranks among the top scorers in the WPIAL and City League this season with an average of 20 points (320 in 16 games). He was 15th among the district's scoring leaders in the Post-Gazette's most recent statistics.
"He's the definition of a scorer," Brentwood coach Dave Mislan said. "But he's not just a shooter and he's not just an off-the-dribble guy. He's an all-around player and he's having a special year."
Earlier in the season, Pilarski scored a career-best 36 points against Valley during Riverview's holiday tournament. He followed up by throwing down 27 points the next night against Riverview.
Pilarski also led his team in scoring against all three of the Spartans' opponents two weeks ago. He dropped 25 points on Jan. 8 during a 56-44 Section 4-AA victory against Bishop Canevin and then scored 19 the next night in a 58-53 non-league loss against Brashear. Pilarski also led Brentwood with 12 points two days later in a 48-45 section loss to Chartiers-Houston.
"He's a scorer, and he's put up big numbers against the better teams," Mislan said. "If you want him to post up, he can do it. If you want him to come off the screen, he'll nail the shot."
Through 16 games, Brentwood owns an 8-8 overall record but stood in fifth place out of seven teams in Section 4-AA at 3-5.
"We're struggling right now," Pilarski said. "We're still playing hard, but we're losing games against teams we shouldn't be losing to. It seems like we fall behind early, make a strong comeback but before you know it, the game's over and it's too late.
"We need to keep working hard and put together an entire game."
Five of the Spartans' eight losses were decided by six points or fewer. Besides losing close games against Brashear and Chartiers-Houston, Brentwood also suffered a 51-50 loss against South Park on Dec. 8 as well as a 52-49 section defeat to Fort Cherry on Dec. 14 and a 48-45 loss to Chartiers-Houston on Jan. 11.
"It can be frustrating at times, but we have to keep playing," Pilarski said. "We can't quit. We have to keep at it and work hard to win games."
Pilarski did help Brentwood make the WPIAL playoffs last season by averaging 20.2 points as a junior. The Spartans finished 6-6 in Section 3-AA and 13-11 overall, falling to Beaver Falls in the first round of the Class AA bracket.
"As he goes, we go in terms of offense," Mislan said. "The experience is there this year. He put up those numbers as a junior and gained experience. Last year shocked me a little because he didn't have experience he lost from his sophomore year."
Pilarski missed all but seven games during his sophomore season after he broke a growth plate in his left ankle.
"That was a rough year," said Pilarksi, who kicks with his right foot. "I then sprained my right ankle during baseball season and I also broke my collarbone while playing soccer."
Since Pilarski's return to the basketball court, Mislan has witnessed great improvement over the past two seasons.
"He has improved dramatically, size-wise and strength-wise," Mislan said. "I knew he had skills as an eighth grader, but he put a lot into improving his game. He's learned a lot, improved his dribbling and ball-handling skills.
"He's also improved off the dribble and knows when and how to get open. He uses a lot of strategy now."
Besides Pilarski, Mislan has relied on seniors Kyle Simmons, Tyler Kraska, Michael Kish and Michael Andrews as well as juniors Matt Yasko and Justin Vickless as either starters or key contributors off the bench.
"Jason is as good of a teammate as you're going to find," Mislan said. "He leads more by example and does everything with a purpose. The rest of the guys see that and it lifts their games. He is very unselfish."
First Published January 24, 2013 12:00 am