Thursday, December 15, 2022 | 11:01 AM
When Latrobe ran into foul trouble in a game earlier this season, causing a thin front line with no center, boys basketball coach Brad Wetzel did not panic.
He knew what to do.
“We had no bigs, so we moved Landon (Butler) to the five (center),” Wetzel said. “We knew he could play there. He has played one through five for us. With a player like that, you invent ways to use him.”
Like the 6-foot-4 Butler, a number of other Westmoreland County standouts seem to fit a similar mold: They are essentially position-less players whose versatility allows them to play anywhere on the floor and remain productive.
They have size and skill, can handle and shoot the basketball and can take over games.
Yough junior Terek Crosby, Norwin senior Adam Bilinsky, junior Ty Keffer of Southmoreland and junior Quinton Martin of Belle Vernon are others who don’t seem to have a firm spot.
“I have been playing since the third grade,” said Butler, a senior who has 884 career points. “Knowing basketball allows you move around and know how to play (other spots).”
Crosby, a talented athlete known for his ability to get to the rim and finish, often with slam dunks, is rounding out his game so he isn’t pigeon-holed as just a scorer.
The 6-3 Crosby shares the point guard spot with junior Zander Aird but has played shooting guard and small forward. He had 29, 29 and 28 points in his first three games.
“Skill No. 1 with Terek is that he can shoot it,” Yough coach Jim Nesser said. “Shooting starts everything for him. He has played the four before for us. He is trying to develop a mid-range game.”
Bilinsky, whose year-to-year-growth has impressed local coaches and fans alike, is another high-flying swingman whose pull-up jumper is a chore to stop.
Bilinsky respects others who play the game the way he does.
“Terek is a very good player, easily a scholarship-level player, and same thing goes for Landon,” Bilinsky said. “Versatility is key for the game we play. Being able to put it on the floor and shoot as well is very tough. I think working hard in the gym is quite literally the only way to do that. Being athletic is always a great thing to come to as a last resort, but being skilled at other things is what will make you a versatile player.”
Bilinsky (6-3) scored 30 points in Norwin’s first game and has a 23-point average — and 797 points for his career. Another guard who can bring the ball up the floor or post up, Bilinsky is a Mercyhurst commit. He went head-to-head against Crosby in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Showcase.
While the pair rarely faced off directly, Crosby had 20 in the first game in which his team faced a zone this season, and Bilinsky scored 17. But Bilinsky got the 48-40 win as the Knights moved to 4-0.
Keffer also has made fast progress, accelerating into his third prep season with scoring touch.
He scored 45 points in an 83-80 win over Derry in the WCCA Showcase. Keffer had 23 points in a quarter and 18 in another this season.
A 6-4 guard who can handle the ball, shoot and attack the basket, he has 750 career points.
He had 30 and 28 in other performances this season, giving him a 29.3-point average, tops in Westmoreland County.
“It was great scoring 45. I kept shooting,” said Keffer, who made 17 of 28 shots in the Derry win, including 6 of 9 3s. “In practice, I started working with the bigs. But I also work on my shot.”
Keffer played football this fall for the first time since middle school, showing his ability to go up and get jump balls. He was one of the WPIAL’s most productive pass-catching threats.
“Football helped to raise his level of confidence and toughness,” said Southmoreland coach Frank Muccino, who is also an assistant coach with the WPIAL and PIAA 3A champion Belle Vernon football team. “He is able to adjust when teams start to adapt to him.”
Martin was the centerpiece of Belle Vernon’s championship run in football and will need a minute to get back into basketball. But if this winter is anything like the last, the five-star football prospect will again be a force for the Leopards on the hardwood.
The returning Tribune-Review Westmoreland player of the year, Martin averaged 19 points and nine rebounds last year. He played all five positions.
Butler opened the season with a 28-point, 11-rebound, six-assist, seven-steal game in a win over Richland.
He comes from a talented basketball family. His father, Eric, played college basketball. His old brothers, Austin and Bryce, also played well beyond high school.
Austin is playing professionally in Finland, while Bryce is one of the top Division II players in the country at West Liberty.
Landon is trying to join his brothers on the 1,000-point list at Latrobe.
“Playing against my brothers really helped me,” he said. “I feel like I play more like Bryce.”
Landon Butler is just as valuable to Latrobe on defense.
“The way we play, it’s not a case of, ‘You got him and you got him,’” Wetzel said. “But Landon can guard the other teams’ big in the half-court.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Belle Vernon, Latrobe, Norwin, Southmoreland, Yough
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