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Torn between two sports, Tyler Lapetina’s decision paid off
Tyler Lapetina's AAU season with Philadelphia's Pro Skills team turned the Perkiomen Valley senior into a DIII prospect. (Courtesy: HoopGroup JamFest)

Torn between two sports, Tyler Lapetina’s decision paid off

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (BVM) — Senior Tyler Lapetina has played baseball ever since he was 5 years old. As a starting pitcher for Perkiomen Valley High School, he always thought he was going to one day play college baseball, but that all changed this past March after a successful basketball season. 

“Growing up, I felt like I was better at the sport of baseball and I wasn’t really good enough to be a collegiate player for basketball,” Lapetina said. 

But, to his surprise, he had a better-than-expected junior season. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound shooting guard was then named to the Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC) Liberty Division second team as well as a Reporter/Times Herald Boys Basketball All-Area Team Honorable Mention and a Mercury All-Area Honorable Mention. 

Following the end of the basketball season, Lapetina was supposed to start spring baseball for recruits to notice him, but he decided that he was not ready for basketball to end. He tried out for Pro Skills, an AAU basketball team out of Philadelphia, while knowing that practice would overlap with his after school baseball practice. 

“I made the team,” Lapetina said. “My dad sat me down one day and asked me if I wanted to pursue basketball or baseball, but I really didn’t know.” 

Now, just eight months after choosing to play for the AAU team and pushing his baseball season to the side, Lapetina’s life is going in a different direction than he ever imagined. During the season, he was noticed by several Division III schools, and contrary to what he thought his life would turn out to be like, Lapetina is now “good enough” to be a collegiate basketball player. 

“I loved baseball and it was my favorite sport,” Lapetina said. “But after my AAU season and working my way into becoming a college player, I felt like it was very worth it and I’m happy with the decision I made back in March worked out!”

Lapetina is committed to Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., to play basketball next year. He announced his decision on Twitter last week while thanking his future coaches, who are a big reason for choosing the school in the first place he says. 

“I’m really looking forward to all four years at Juniata and I’m hoping that we can bring home championships my junior and senior year.” Lapetina said. 

Lapetina is entering his senior season on the high school hardwood and with a college commitment, he is now focusing more than ever on becoming a rapidly improving player. 

“I am practicing basketball with drill and skill work while shooting and lifting at least five to six times a week,” Lapetina said. “Now with my basketball trainer and a lot of practicing, I was able to add quick dribble moves and other skills to my arsenal so that I’m not just a shooter but I can also attack the paint and make defenders move so I can work myself into a shot that I am comfortable with.” 

But Lapetina recognizes that he cannot overwork himself. In the eighth grade, he was playing tackle football with his neighborhood friends, when one of them hit him from the side as he was running towards the end zone, which completely blew out his back. 

“Ever since that moment I’ve always had a problem with the lower part of my spine,” Lapetina said. “I can very easily get to the point where I can’t be able to run or jog, so I needed to go to a physical therapist every month to have my back checked out.” 

Going into his final high school season, he believes that the team has a very decent shot at winning the PAC championship. With about 16 games and uncertainty with the pandemic, Lapetina and his teammates are going to be shooting hoops one way or another.

“Even during quarantine when most things were shut down, we would go to the local basketball court and run drills and we would get some scrimmaging up before we left,” Lapetina said. 

Aside from shocking those around him and himself, Lapetina said that although baseball was everything to him, he went in with an open mindset for basketball and played at his own expectations. He will still be able to play for the Perkiomen Valley baseball team in the spring before he graduates and says he is very excited to play the sport he still loves so much.