When Adam Polites wasn’t picked for the third-grade basketball team, he was determined to get to the top.
Nine years and countless practices later, the Northern Cambria senior couldn’t be more pleased with the way his career turned out.
In the past four years, he amassed 1,226 points, claimed a District 6 championship and made three straight trips to the PIAA playoffs. He has played in three district title games and was the leading scorer in the area this year with 20.4 points per game.
Due to his versatile, athletic play and leadership skills, the Colts’ standout was chosen as the All-Gazette boys’ basketball player of the year, as voted by area coaches and the Gazette sports staff.
“This has honestly been 10 years in the making,” Polites said. “It’s truly an honor because there are a lot of great players out there this year, and I’m just grateful. Ever since I didn’t make my third-grade team, I knew I wanted to be good. I used to shovel snow off the court so I could practice year-round. All the hard work paid off. It was just a great year, and I’m thankful.”
He wasn’t the only one with a great year, though. Homer-Center coach Bob Rado, who wrapped up his sixth season with the Wildcats, led his team to the state playoffs after finishing third in the district. Rado was named the All-Gazette coach of the year for the fourth time in his 30-year career.
“It’s just humbling,” Rado said. “But I attribute it all to the kids. We had a philosophy to work hard, and they really bought into it. They were intense the entire season, and I was blessed with a great staff. They really made it easy for me.”
The 1974 Homer-Center graduate has been coaching boys’ basketball in Indiana County since 1982. He spent nine seasons at Marion Center, coached at Indiana for 15 and recorded over 100 wins with each program. The Wildcats finished with a 19-7 record this season.
“The bottom line is that being a good coach depends on the players,” Rado said. “I have to have their respect, and they have to have mine, and we established that from the beginning.
“We said all year that as long as there isn’t any gas left in the tank after the game, we were doing our jobs. The kids were relentless. I am so grateful for the community support. I grew up there, and they teach their kids work ethic down there like my parents taught me. Basketball is a long season, and I’m proud of how they handled it.”
Polites knows all too well how long the season can be. He and four of his senior teammates started every game for Northern Cambria the past two seasons. This year, the Colts won the Heritage Conference title, lost in the District 6 Class AA title game but advanced to the second round of the PIAA playoffs.
“It’s been a blessing with Coach (Dan) Weber and with all our guys,” Polites said. “We’ve been playing together since elementary school. It’s just been a pleasure. It’s about more than just this season. I know me and my teammates will always be friends because of the game of basketball, and it’s pretty cool that it’ll stick with us forever.”