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Boys' Basketball: Raiders off to strong start under Zeglinski

After starring in basketball at Hartford and playing overseas, Joe Zeglinski, slowed by a deteriorating right knee, decided it was time for the next chapter in his life.

Zeglinski took a job selling medical equipment and, when the opportunity arose, joined former Hartford assistant Drew Dawson's coaching staff at Choate Rosemary Hall, a private boarding school in Connecticut.

"I always knew that I wanted to get into coaching," Zeglinski, 28, said. "So I went to Choate to see if it was a fit."

Following a year at Choate, Zeglinski returned to Archbishop Ryan, where he also shined on the gridiron, to lead the boys' program. The 2006 graduate was hired after Bernie Rogers stepped down after 15 seasons to coach at Haverford School.

The early results have been encouraging. With rising junior guard Izaiah Brockington producing 19 points and six assists, the host Raiders nipped Penn Charter, 52-50, Tuesday night and improved to 4-1.

Zeglinski, who is Ryan's all-time leading scorer with 1,253 points, saw positive signs over the summer and in open-gym workouts. "I was optimistic largely because of the way the players bought into what we were trying to do as a coaching staff," he said.

Anthony Minor, a 6-6 forward at Plymouth Whitemarsh and Hartford, ex-Ryan teammates Jim Roche, and Dan Lepera, another Ryan product, are among the varsity assistants.

Zeglinksi also credited the work of strength and conditioning coaches Ed Heuser and Brendan Ostaszewski. "The kids got a lot stronger over the summer," Zeglinski said.

"We've tried to instill togetherness and a family atmosphere," added Zeglinski, who ranks second on Hartford's career scoring list with 2,016 points. "We want everybody on the same page."

Against Penn Charter, 6-6 senior forward Austin Chabot (10.6 ppg.) contributed 11 points and four blocks. Senior point guard Austin Slawter managed seven points and four steals.

The solid start has been aided by senior forwards Freddie Killian and Chris Guest, 6-7 junior wing Matiss Kulackovskis, junior guards Chris Palantino and Chris Kuhar, 6-8 junior center Fred Taylor, and freshman guard Amin Bryant.

Kulackovskis, who netted 18 points in Sunday's 63-57 defeat of George Washington, arrived this year from Latvia. Taylor transferred from Boys' Latin.

Of Kulackovskis, Zeglinski said, "He's a versatile player who shoots the ball well. He's getting more comfortable each day."

Brockington, a 6-4 southpaw, is averaging 16 points per game. He has drawn interest from Drexel, Lafayette, Penn, St. Francis (Pa.), and Yale. "His burst to the basket is really something to watch," Zeglinski said.

Chabot, who had 18 points and nine boards against Washington, is being recruited by Division II (Bloomsburg) and III (DeSales) schools.

Zeglinski's brother, Sammy, 27. who shined at Penn Charter and Virginia, is currently playing with the Niagara River Lions of the National Basketball League of Canada.

The eldest of the Zeglinski boys, Zack, 29, was a three-sport athlete at Penn Charter. After stops at Penn State (football) and Temple (baseball), he joined Joe at Hartford and played basketball for one season.

Notes. Mohamed Bamba, a 6-11 junior center, averaged 20 rebounds, 15.3 points, and 10 blocks as Westtown went 3-0 to win the Bullis School (Md.) Holiday Classic last weekend. With Bamba (15) and Najja Hunter (30) combining for 45 points, the Moose downed Bullis, 78-61, in the final. ... Downingtown West senior guard Ryan Betley (23 ppg.) is 11 points shy of the 1,000 mark entering Thursday's game at West Chester East. ... Friends' Central's De'Andre Hunter and Chuck Champion average 21.7 and 17.2 points, respectively. ... Germantown Academy's Devon Goodman averages 21.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.2 steals. ... Archbishop Wood's leading scorers through three games are Tyree Pickron (21.3 ppg.), Collin Gillespie (16.5), and Tommy Funk (15.3). Pickron is 9 for 18 from three-point land. ... Ryan McTamney has averaged 21.6 points in La Salle's 5-0 start. ... Jack Coolahan (19.1 ppg.) and Mike McFadden (14.7) have led 6-0 Holy Ghost Prep.