Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

February 22, 2013

Player of the Week

Weitzel follows in the footsteps

GARDNER — The PikeView boys basketball program has seen this before.

A young team struggles early on in terms of wins, but slowly grows up on the court and eventually challenges for state tournament berths.

Could it be happening again?

“That is what we are hoping,” PikeView first year head coach Lindsay Jones said. “They are inexperienced so everything we have taught them has been brand new to them. We have told them there are a thousand different ways to skin a cat and we are going to skin it this way.”

Jordan Weitzel was a key part of that PikeView team a few years ago that went from losing as youngsters to winning as they became juniors and seniors.

His sophomore brother, Jason Weitzel, is doing his part to help the Panthers do it again. While Jordan could never get to the state tourney, Jason is determined to get to Charleston, and stay awhile.

“My goal is in a couple of years to hopefully make it upstate and maybe even make it farther than that, maybe even the championship game,” Weitzel said. “If we keep working hard and practicing and keep getting better I think we can do it.”

While PikeView is 6-16 this season, the Panthers start three sophomores and two juniors, all with an eye toward the future.

“I think we have a ton of potential to get better,” Weitzel said, “and in a couple of years we could be making runs upstate if we keep working hard.”

A 5-foot-11 sophomore who participates in four sports, Weitzel rarely stops working, and it showed last week, providing 32 points and six assists in a close loss to Summers County, and was 20 for 23 from the charity stripe to finish with 24 points and five steals in a win over James Monroe.  

That performance was enough to earn Weitzel the final Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week award for the 2012-13 season.

“We haven’t even talked about anything like this,” Jones said. “We have been focused on what we can do. It is nice and I am glad Jason has received it. I hope that he appreciates it and he doesn’t just settle for just that.”

That isn’t likely. Weitzel quickly deflected the credit elsewhere.

“It is real nice, but it also because of my teammates that I can get this award because they trust me to shoot and score and handle the ball so I would like to thank all of them,” Weitzel said.

A part of the West Virginia Lightning AAU travel team since he was 8 or 9 nine years old, Weitzel also played for three seasons at PikeView Middle School, preparing him to spend his entire freshman campaign last year with the Panthers’ varsity team, starting about half of the games.

“I guess they thought I was ready and I could make the adjustment fast and get used to the speed of the game,” said Weitzel, who has started every game this season. “I am shooting the ball more because there are not as many scorers on the team this year and I am just being more aggressive in general.”

Jones, who is in his first season at PikeView after coming over from Montcalm, is excited to have Weitzel as a building block for his team.

“He is pretty knowledgeable about the game and he is not afraid to give his opinion on what he has seen out there on the floor and making adjustments,” Jones said. “We are still working on him communicating with the team and trying to get him to take over the game and call more offenses and being more of a vocal leader.

“He has improved, but we still have a long ways to go.”

No one knows that better than Weitzel, who likes to drive to the basket, unlike his brother, who liked to spot up and shoot. Jason is contributing 13.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds for the Panthers this season.

While the brothers might differ on the court, their desire to succeed in all sports is much the same. Jason was a regional champion in cross country in the fall — just like Jordan — and also plays soccer and participates in track in the spring.

What stuck out the most to Jones Jordan — who is now attending William & Mary — is the fact that he never seemed to get tired. Jason shares the same attribute.

“Jason is the exact same way,” Jones said. “Somebody is pressuring the ball the whole time and it is 94 feet and he plays defense really aggressive so his conditioning is pretty amazing.”

Weitzel helped start PikeView on the comeback trail in last Tuesday’s 84-76 loss to Summers County. The Panthers trailed by 31 at halftime and 27 after three quarters, but Jones liked what he saw next.

“It was a no-quit attitude and that is all we talked about at halftime of the game because we were down 31 at halftime,” Jones said. “We are not going to quit, we are just going to keep playing hard and we almost got them.”

PikeView scored 33 fourth quarter points, with 17 coming from Weitzel, who was 9 for 13 from the free throw line. Zach Meadows also had a huge game with 25 points and 21 rebounds.  

“We were actually down about 30 going into the fourth quarter,” Weitzel said. “I was just trying to look to score and bring us back in the game and we almost came back and won that game.”

That was followed by a foul-fest with James Monroe. Weitzel attempted just attempted just five shots against the Mavericks, but directed the offense and picked up fouls, shooting 23 free throws and making 20 of them in a 68-55 win.

“I was looking to get to the basket a whole lot and I was able to draw a lot of fouls against James Monroe,” said Weitzel, who credits repetition for his success on the charity stripe.

“In practice we shoot free throws every day, usually 20 and we see how many we can make out of 20.”

PikeView will play next on Tuesday against Mount View in a sectional semifinal game at Princeton. A win and the Panthers will qualify for the regionals the following week.

These clubs have played three games determined by a combined eight points, with two those won by the Knights.

Weitzel admits the Panthers are still learning the system that Jones brought after replacing William Anderson at the helm, but PikeView appears to have learned well against a difficult schedule.

“It has taken some time adjusting to it and figuring out what we are doing and we would really like for everybody to touch the basketball on every possession,” Jones said. “We really like to push the ball with a fullcourt offense and play team defense so it is coming together.”

Weitzel knows the recent history of PikeView basketball, which didn’t make it to state with Jordan at the helm, but did reach Charleston the following season when his brother was playing at Bluefield State.

“It took them a while to get used to each other,” Weitzel said, “and then they got used to each other and they got better and had chances to go up-state.”

Weitzel wants the same opportunity, no matter what the sport. Once basketball ends, he will turn to track, followed by AAU summer ball and then two sports in the fall, followed by basketball again.

No wonder Weitzel has to not only be in shape, but he’s also good at time management. He’s also having a good time.

“I don’t have to go out (of games) as much since I have pretty good energy the whole game and that helps me stay in the game,” said Weitzel, of his endurance on the court. “I have to do cross country and soccer at the same time.

“It is a lot of tight scheduling going from game to meet, it can be hard sometimes, but it is worth it in the end.”

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