Ruggery helps take BG farther in 2017-18

By Michael Boytim

In his sophomore year, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s Luke Ruggery led his team to the cusp of a District 6 title, and his performance landed him on the Mirror’s first team all-star squad.

That wasn’t enough.

Ruggery’s work continued the day after the Marauders were eliminated from the state playoffs and resulted in a district title for Bishop Guilfoyle this past season.

It continued to pay off this week when the junior was voted Altoona Mirror Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“I’m very humbled,” Ruggery said. “I want to thank my parents, teammates and coaches that all helped me and pushed me every day. It’s a great feeling to get rewarded, and it’s another step toward reaching more future goals.”

Ruggery averaged more than 21 points per game, scored his 1,000th career point during the state playoffs and led the Marauders to a 22-6 record.

“It’s a reward for all the work he puts in,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Chris Drenning said. “He’s a 365-day-a-year player. It’s good for him and good for our program. If you put work in, you get rewarded.”

The Marauders defeated Purchase Line to win the District 6 Class 2A title and topped Johnstown to capture the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship.

“He and all the seniors were very determined to win it,” Drenning said. “He had a tremendous offseason mentally and physically, and that was instrumental in that game. We were down six at half (in the district title game), and he hit a big 3-pointer to start the second half and was clutch down the stretch.”

Ruggery, who is already committed to playing at Division I Saint Francis, chose to concentrate on basketball at a young age in attempt to master his craft.

“Ever since sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a basketball player,” Ruggery said. “I’m really focused on basketball, and by doing that, I just kept getting better and better. I did camps, tournaments, and my family put a lot of money into everything. It’s a great feeling to get these accolades, because my work ethic is a big part of who I am.”

Ruggery topped Central Cambria’s Matt Holsinger, 376 votes to 321, to claim the honor. Holsinger was the Altoona Mirror Boys Basketball Player of the Year last season.

Hollidaysburg’s Ethan Haupt, Chestnut Ridge’s Noah Dillow and Bellwood-Antis’ Trent Walker rounded out the first team.

“Getting championships and awards after the season helps show young kids that if you keep working in the offseason and really put time in, it pays off,” Ruggery said. “This is a boost into next year, and we’ve got some really good underclassmen. It’s motivation to come back and hopefully win another district title.”

Huntingdon’s Nick Payne edged Bishop Carroll Catholic’s Cosie Aliquo and Drenning in the Altoona Mirror Boys Basketball Coach of the Year voting.

“Being named the Altoona Mirror Boys Basketball Coach of the Year just caps off what I consider a perfect season for the Huntingdon Bearcat boys basketball team,” Payne said. “During the course of the season, there have been many accolades, such as winning the Mountain League after a seven-year hiatus, winning a district title after a 16-year drought and charting new territory in the PIAA playoffs that no other team in Huntingdon history has experienced.

“There are numerous coaches in the area that are well deserving of this honor, and to know that they thought I did an outstanding job this season, is very humbling.”