HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Stingers' Fetsko headlines All-Gazette boys' team
When he was moved up to the varsity team as a freshman, it wasn’t always easy for Marion Center’s Todd Fetsko on the basketball court.
But three years — and a lot of hard work — later, the 6-foot-5 forward makes the sport look effortless.
Fetsko averaged 23.7 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in his senior season and was voted as the 2014 All-Gazette Player of the Year.
“It’s great,” Fetsko said of his accomplishments. “I hoped to be successful, but when I was a freshman, I got pushed around a lot by the bigger guys in the conference. It was tough for me. So I kept working at it and only got better. It worked out.”
Things really worked out for Blairsville coach Mark DeMarines, too. The 2006 Blairsville graduate led the Bobcats to a 19-4 record in his first season and was voted the All-Gazette Coach of the Year.
“We knew it was going to be a good year, but I didn’t expect any of this,” DeMarines said. “I knew some of the kids would be near the top of the stats, but never expected anything for myself. It was a great season, but the kids put in all the hard work.”
The Bobcats came within a game of winning the Heritage Conference championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AA District 6 playoffs, where they fell short against Penns Valley, 34-33.
“We had a great season and have been keeping busy since it ended,” DeMarines said. “We have a lot of kids coming back, and the junior class we have is a bigger class — and a good class. We have big plans for next year already.”
Fetsko, who scored over 100 points more than any other area player this season, also has plans for next year. Despite averaging 18.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game over the past three seasons, Fetsko will attend college at IUP but won’t play basketball.
“I miss it a lot already, and I’ve been keeping busy, but I decided not to play in college,” he said. “I visited the schools I was going to be able to play at, but I just felt like IUP was the best fit for me. So I’m going to focus on school and play basketball in my free time.”
Fetsko’s favorite thing about his last season isn’t the numbers he put up, the all-star MVP award he earned or the Stingers’ playoff game against West Branch. He was just happy to play with his friends again.
“Since I moved up as a freshman, I didn’t get to play with all the guys my age because they were still playing in junior high,” Fetsko said. “And since then, I’ve mostly been playing with guys older than me. But this year was special because I got to take the court with my best friends, and it was fun. Our group of seniors got to take the court together and play together again, and that was the best part about this season.”
DeMarines’ most memorable moment of the year was when his Bobcats traveled to the Homer Dome and beat rival Homer-Center on Feb. 2. It was the first game between the two teams in five days and gave Blairsville the early advantage to win the Heritage Conference title.
“That win really built our confidence,” DeMarines said. “It wasn’t just about what that game meant to us in the standings, but after that, we knew we could play with the best. It was a great day for us.”
Homer-Center ended up winning the league championship after the Bobcats lost to Marion Center on the final day of the regular season, giving the Wildcats the title outright. Fetsko, a three-time All-Gazette selection, scored a game-high 23 points in the game.
“He is just a great ball player,” DeMarines said of Fetsko. “I like watching him because he really studies the game. He’s a student of the game. He’s patient in the paint and draws fouls when he needs to. I can’t say enough about the kid. He deserves it.”