POTTSVILLE BOYS BASKETBALL

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Photos By John Liddle

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Photos By John Liddle

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Photos By John Liddle

 

 Tide roll past Blue Mountain

By Mike Carnahan
Published: December 19, 2014                

It is early, but four games into the regular season, Pottsville has been as good as advertised.

One the Crimson Tide’s biggest rivals couldn’t slow them down Thursday.

Eli Nabholz had a game-high 17 points and Travis Blankenhorn added 12, while the defense helped start a late first-half run that lifted Pottsville to 65-29 victory over Blue Mountain in a Schuylkill League Division I contest at Martz Hall.

Thursday’s win was the fourth double-digit victory in four games for Pottsville (4-0, 2-0 D-I) this season. The 36-point margin of victory over the Eagles was the largest for the Crimson Tide, surpassing Monday’s 61-26 win over Pine Grove.

“We played well,” Nabholz said. “We played well against Governor Mifflin (a 64-40 victory last Friday). Last game against Pine Grove we might have taken a little step back, there was not as much intensity. We put a lot of it together today and we definitely got better today.”

Blankenhorn and Connor Hinchliffe had eight rebounds apiece for Pottsville, while Nabholz added six boards and three blocks. Ty Painter and Jordan Melochick each had three assists.

Mark Chelius, the only returning starter this season for Blue Mountain (2-4, 1-1), had 12 points. The Eagles were coming off a 72-55 win over North Schuylkill on Monday.

A Pottsville-Blue Mountain matchup has provided plenty of drama through the years. This wasn’t one of those nights. The Crimson Tide are deep and experienced with five seniors in their starting lineup. The Eagles are young, starting one senior, two juniors and two sophomores.

It turned out to be a rough night offensively for Blue Mountain. The Eagles shot 10-for-34 (29 percent) from the floor and turned the ball over 17 times.

“We played Pottsville,” Blue Mountain coach Dustin Werdt said. “I don’t think you are going to see too many teams come out of here having a good offensive night. I think we helped them a little bit with some turnovers and we gave them some easy buckets. They defend well. They are strong and quick and get out into the passing lanes.”

The game was close early as Pottsville led 10-7 after the first quarter. The Crimson Tide threatened to pull away early in the second quarter, opening with an 8-0 run to go up 18-7 with 3:35 left in the first half. Nabholz finished off the run, scoring on a putback.

Blue Mountain stuck around, cutting cut the deficit to 18-13 with 1:57 remaining on a 3-pointer by Dean Stramara and three-point play by Chelius off a baseline drive.

Then the Crimson Tide took over for good, putting together a 22-4 run that lasted into the second half.

The defense helped spark it.

Blankenhorn started the run with a pull-up jumper. Hinchliffe then had back-to-back steals, converting both for layups, making it 24-13 with 24 seconds left in the first half.

Hinchliffe got into the passing lane on both steals, the type of defense Pottsville coach Dave Mullaney felt was lacking at times last season.

“He got out into the passing lanes and that changed the game,” he said. “It is coming. This group, the problem is we do have the capability of scoring some points, but we want to make sure we are doing it on both ends. Slowly but surely we are coming along.”

Blankenhorn finished off the half by hitting a 3-pointer off a screen from the top of the circle with 2 seconds left to make it 27-13.

Nabholz scored eight of his points during the third quarter as Pottsville build a 42-17 advantage with 3:32 to go after Jordan Abdo knocked down a 3 from the corner.

The Crimson Tide led 50-25 after three quarters.

Pottsville finished the night 25-for-51 (49 percent) from the floor, including a 7-of-22 (31 percent) showing from 3-point land. Everybody seemed to get involved Thursday.

“We know where everybody is going to be and the offense started to flow tonight,” Nabholz said. “It was just working together as a team, running the motion offense. We got so many guys open tonight. I just happened to open a couple of times.”

Game Summary

BLUE MOUNTAIN (29) — Puzzi 0 0-0 0, Stramara 2 1-2 6, Kerstetter 0 0-0 0, Barton 0 0-0 0, Welsh 0 1-2 1, Lewis 2 0-0 4, Donovan 0 0-0 0, Chelius 4 2-2 12, Albertini 2 0-0 6, Granito 0 0-0 0, Zerbe 0 0-0 0, Biever 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 4-6 29.

POTTSVILLE (65) — Hinchliffe 3 0-0 6, Gerchak 0 0-0 0, Painter 2 0-0 5, Blankenhorn 5 1-2 12, Thomas 1 0-0 2, Dunkel 0 0-0 0, Melochick 2 3-3 7, Shuman 2 0-0 5, Witman 1 1-1 3, Abdo 1 2-2 5, Nabholz 7 1-1 17, Coyle 0 0-0 0, Renninger 0 0-0 0, Schenk 1 0-0 3. Totals 25 8-9 65.

BM (2-4, 1-1) 7 6 12 4 — 29 Pot (4-0, 2-0) 10 17 23 15 — 65

3-point FGs: Stramara, Chelius 2, Albertini 2, Painter, Blankenhorn, Shuman, Abdo, Nabholz 2, Schenk

JV score: Pottsville 50-28

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

BlueMt14/_MG_3732.jpg
Photos By John Liddle

Crimson Tide Soars Past The Eagles

The "Big Easy", Eli Nabholz led the Tide with 17 points, Travis "Money" Blankehorn added 12 points and Jordan "Melo" Melochick chipped in 7 points, as the Tide with a well balanace attack soared pass Blue Mountain 65-29 at Martz Hall. The Crimson Tide improved their record to 4 and 0. The Tide will take their show on the road, Saturday against the Salisbury Falcons,  

Pottsville:  10   17   23   12  (65)

Blue Mountain:   7   6   12   4   (29) 

Pottsville 

Hinchliffe 3 0-0 6, Gerchak 0 0-0 0, Painter 2 0-0 5, Blankenhorn 5 1-2 12, Thomas 1 0-0 2, Dunkel 0 0-0 0, Melochick 2 3-3 7, Shuman 1 0-0 3, Witman 2 1-1 5, Abdo 1 3-3 5, Nabholz 7 1-1 17, Coyle 0 0-0 0, Renninger 0 0-0 0, Schenck 1 0-0 3,  Totals: 25 8-9 (65)

Blue Mountain

Puzzi 0 0-0 0, Strammara 2 1-2 6, Kerstetter 0 0-0 0, Barton 0 0-2 0, Welsh 0 1-2 1, Lewis 2 0-0 4, Donovan 0 0-0 0, Chelius 4 2-2 12, Albertini 2 0-0 6, Granto 0 0-0 0, Zerbe 0 0-0 0, Biever 0 0-0 0 Totals: 10 4-8 (29)

 

 

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Photos By John Liddle

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Photos By John Liddle

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Photos By John Liddle

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Photos By John Liddle

Pottsville clips The Cardinals Wings   

Pottsville 61

Pine Grove 26

Travis Blankenhorn and Jordan Abdo each scored 13 points as Pottsville dumped Pine Grove in a Division I game.

Nine of Blankenhorn’s 13 points came in a 21-5 third period for the Tide.

Pine Grove’s Kobe D’Agostino led all scorers with 18 points, going 10-for-10 from the foul line.

PINE GROVE (26) — Rossi 0 0-0 0, Snedden 1 0-1 3, Soper 0 0-0 0, Kaufman 0 0-0 0, Kreiser 0 0-0 0, Leininger 0 1-2 1, D’Agostino 3 10-10 18, Weinus 0 0-2 0, Griffiths 0 0-0 0, Fick 0 2-4 2, Omlor 0 0-2 0, Mars 0 2-2 2. Totals 4 15-23 26.

POTTSVILLE (61) — Hinchliffe 2 0-0 4, Gerchak 0 0-0 0, Painter 0 0-0 0, Blankenhorn 6 0-3 13, Thomas 0 3-3 3, Dunkel 2 1-1 5, Melochick 2 0-0 4, Shuman 0 0-0 0, Witman 1 1-3 3, Abdo 4 4-4 13, Nabholz 2 3-4 8, Corral 2 0-0 4, Renninger 1 0-0 2, Schenk 0 0-0 0, O’Pake 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 12-19 61.

PG (1-3, 0-1) 5 4 5 12 — 26 Pott. (3-0, 1-0) 13 7 21 20 — 61

3-point FGs: Snedden, D’Agostino 2, Blankenhorn, Abdo, Nabholz

JV score: Pottsville 65-9

 
 
 Tide look to roll again

                                                                  

The best way to describe the 2014-15 Schuylkill League boys’ basketball season is uncertainty and plenty of change.

Such is the case at Mahanoy Area. For the first time since 1981, Mickey Holland will not lead the Golden Bears as head coach. The job now belongs to Scott Hudson, who was a sophomore at Mahanoy Area during Holland’s first season 33 years ago and has been involved with the program in some capacity ever since.

Then there is the new addition to the league in Lehighton and how much of an impact the Indians will make in the Division I race.

There is also the question of who will emerge as the front runners for the Division II and III titles. Both races are wide open this season and will bring plenty of intrigue as the year moves on.

There are, however, no such uncertainties and changes at Pottsville. The Crimson Tide’s expectations are always high, and this season is no different.

The Tide are loaded again, and the expectations may be turned up a little bit more.

Not only is Pottsville coming off a 24-6 campaign, but all five starters — seniors Travis Blankenhorn, Eli Nabholz, Ty Painter and Connor Hinchliffe, along with junior Jordan Melochick — are back.

Last season, the Crimson Tide’s drive for a fifth consecutive overall league title ended with a 45-44 loss to Mahanoy Area in the championship game. But 2013-14 could hardly be considered a failure.

Pottsville won its fifth straight division title by beating Blue Mountain 51-42 in a tiebreaker contest Feb. 8. The Crimson Tide also reached their first District 11 Class AAA title game since 2010 and then won their first PIAA playoff game since 1974 with a 58-38 victory over Lower Moreland on March 7. Pottsville proceeded to give eventual state runner-up Susquehanna Township a fight in the second round before losing 52-45 on March 11.

Blankenhorn, a 6-foot-2 guard, stepped into more of a leadership role and responded with the best season of his career, averaging 18.2 points per game, including 61 3-pointers. He was The Republican-Herald Co-Player of the Year with Mahanoy Area’s Dylan Mahmod. Blankenhorn also hit 1,000 points for his career during a 56-30 victory over Williams Valley in the league semifinals Feb. 11.

Nabholz (12.0 ppg), a 6-5 forward, had the best season of his high school career, too, becoming a threat both in and out of the paint. Melochick (9.8 ppg) nearly averaged double figures in scoring, while Connor Hinchliffe (6.1 ppg., 24 3s) was second on the team in 3-pointers and Ty Painter (2.8) became more confident offensively as the season went along.

What could make the Crimson Tide even scarier is that there is depth this season, so much so that last year’s starting five could be different this season.

To that end, coach Dave Mullaney wants Pottsville to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor. He wants the Tide’s man-to-man defense to be even tighter, and his motion offense to run crisper sets.

He knows there is a lot of work to do.

“We are nowhere where we want to be,” he said. “I really want to see us offensive rebound better than we have in the past. I want to see us play defense like we have in the past as well. Last year I don’t think we were a great defensive team. And just continue to build confidence. The talent is there, it is just the job of the coaching staff to kind of put it all together and reach our potential.”

Blankenhorn knows this season could be special, too. Now the Crimson Tide have to go out and get it done.

“We still have to go out and play the game,” he said. “Nothing is guaranteed. We have to keep focused, keep getting better and take nothing for granted.”

Pottsville and the rest of Division I have to deal with Lehighton as it enters from the now defunct Mountain Valley Conference.

The Indians (14-11, 7-7 MVC) might be new to the league, but are familiar with a few of the teams they will play. Lehighton lost to Pottsville in the District 11 Class AAA quarterfinals the past two years, and also have played Tamaqua, Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley and Marian in non-league games in the recent years.

Two of the Indians’ leading scorers return in senior guard Jordan Knappenberger (13.7) and junior forward Tyler Crum (13.0). The rest of Lehighton’s starters will be new.

“It is different basketball in the Schuylkill League compared to where we came from,” Indians coach Rich Oertner said. “The Mountain Valley, the kids were more athletic, but their basketball IQ wasn’t there. I think the basketball IQ in the Schuylkill League is pretty high. The kids and the coaches are fundamentally sound. We were usually the smarter team, but now some of the better teams are smarter than we are. That will be a change.”

Lehighton’s first league game is Monday at home against Panther Valley.

Here are some other items to look for this winter:

• In addition to Blankenhorn, Nativity’s Jeff Yordy (1,191) and Tamaqua’s Brett Kosciolek (1,034) are returning as 1,000-point scorers in the league this season.

• In addition to Hudson, Jim Thorpe’s Jason McElmoyle and Gillingham Charter’s Pete Sanfilippo are also new head coaches.

• The postseason classifications have changed for some schools for the new PIAA two-year cycle.

Class AAA includes Blue Mountain, Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, North Schuylkill, Pottsville and Tamaqua; Mahanoy Area, Marian, Minersville, Panther Valley, Pine Grove, Schuylkill Haven and Williams Valley are Class AA; and Nativity, Shenandoah Valley, Tri-Valley, Weatherly and Gillingham Charter are Class A. Upper Dauphin is still Class AA and Hamburg stays Class AAA in District 3, while Lourdes remains in Class A in District 4.

Here’s a breakdown of the division races:

Division I

Lehighton should be in contention for the division title. So, who else might challenge Pottsville?

A good place to start is Tamaqua.

In addition to Kosciolek, senior Bo Rottet (15.0 ppg, team-leading 346 points, 50 3-pointers) has developed into one of the best point guards in the league. Also returning is junior guard Russell Blaker (5.3 ppg, 24 3s), who averaged 10.7 points per game over Tamaqua’s final six contests.

The Raiders have gone 27-20 the past two seasons, qualifying for the District 11 Class AAA playoffs twice. They have plenty of offensive firepower, but the keys to taking the next step and competing for a league title will be defense and rebounding.

If those areas improve, this could be the year the Raiders qualify for the league playoffs for the first time since 1995.

Blue Mountain and North Schuylkill are always in the mix and this winter will be no different. Both have starters to replace, but if recent history is any guide, they should be just fine.

That is especially true for the Eagles, who have just one starter back in junior guard Mark Chelius (6.9 ppg). Three other letterwinners return in senior Dean Stramara, junior Ian Donovan and sophomore Connor Kerstetter. The three combined to score 86 points last season.

Blue Mountain was in the same position at the start of 2012-13 and ended up going a combined 39-13 over the following two seasons, qualifying for the league playoffs twice.

Two starters are back for the Spartans, including 6-5 forward Tevin Murray (12.5 ppg), The Republican-Herald Rookie of the Year. Also returning is sophomore guard Major Jordan (6.6 ppg).

The Spartans needed to replace four starters at the beginning of last year and finished 16-7. North Schuylkill nearly played for the District 11 Class AA title, but were done in by a bad fourth quarter during a 52-46 loss to Catasauqua in the semifinals.

 

Blue Mountain

Head coach: Dustin Werdt (12th season)

Last year: 21-7 overall, 11-1 D-I. Division wild-card, District 11 Class AAA third-place finisher, PIAA qualifier

Returnees: Dean Stramara (sr., G), Nico Granito (sr., F), Mark Chelius (jr., G), Ian Donovan (jr., G), Christian Puzzi (jr., F), Connor Kerstetter (soph., F-C), Aaron Albertini (soph., G), Brayden Lewis (soph., F),

Newcomers: Jack Barton (sr., F), Spencer Welsh (soph., G), Mason Zerbe (soph., G-F), Jakob Biever (fr., C)

Outlook: The Eagles took a major graduation hit, losing four starters. The guards are versatile, with some who can hit from the perimeter, while others are slashers. The youth is a concern and Werdt is looking for the Eagles to commit to playing defense on every possession. Division playoff contender.

 

Jim Thorpe

Head coach: Jason McElmoyle (1st season)

Last year: 2-20, 1-11 D-I

Returnees: David Everitt (sr., F), Shane Snisky (sr., F), Brett Luicina (sr., G), Jordan McElmoyle (jr., G), Rayan Green (jr., F), Christopher Micciche (soph., G), Brendan Carroll (soph., G)

Newcomers: Jalil Veney (sr., G), Abraham Johnson (sr., F), Alec Lauer (jr., F), Rocco Twardzick (jr., F), Owen Snisky (soph., G), Matthew Elmore (soph., F)

Outlook: The Olympians will be one of the more experienced teams in the division with four starters back. They have some size, too. McElmoyle likes the chemistry they are developing. How much of an impact the Olympians could make in the division remains to be seen.

 

Lehighton

Head coach: Rich Oertner (4th at Lehighton, 14th overall)

Last year: 14-11, 7-7 Mountain Valley Conference. MVC semifinalist, District 11 Class AAA quarterfinalist

Returnees: Jordan Knappenberger (sr., G), Tyler Crum (jr., F),

Newcomers: Tom Ruzicka (sr., G), Tyler Williams (sr., F), Nick Chambers (jr., C), Tanner Zwetoliz (jr., G-F-C), Ben Cordova (jr., C), Hunter Green (jr., F), Nick Skrincosky (soph., F)

Outlook: The Indians have their two leading scorers back with team speed a strength. The goal is to qualify for districts. Oertner believes doing that depends on how well the football players adapt to basketball. Division playoff contender.

 

North Schuylkill

Head coach: Curt Ziegmont (12th season)

Last year: 16-7, 8-4 D-I. District 11 Class AA semifinalist

Returnees: Ryan Hillbish (sr., G), Jordan Marlow (jr., G), Tevin Murray (jr., F), Major Jordan (soph., G-F),

Newcomers: Justin Heaton (sr., F), John Mercado (sr., G), Chris Karlonis (sr., F), Conor Carney (sr., G), Ryan Mazeika (sr., F), Alex Mazur (jr., G),

Outlook: The Spartans have two of the better younger players in the league in Murray and Jordan and the task is to find three new starters to built around them. Ziegmont likes the athleticism and depth as the Spartans seek to find their identity. They should be in the division mix, too.

 

Panther Valley

Head coach: Patrick Crampsie (13th season)

Last year: 10-12, 4-7 D-I

Returnees: Chad Dubosky (sr., F), Cee Keo (sr., G), Ethan Vermillion (sr., F), Charles Nase (jr., F), Anthony Miholick (soph., G), Matt Hudicka (jr.)

Newcomers: Nate Miller (jr.), Sam Stanko (jr.), Tristian Blasko (fr., F)

Outlook: The Panther lost two of their leading scorers to graduation and the new faces must take over the offensive load. There is more athleticism and length than in previous years and that should help improve the defense.

 

Pine Grove

Head coach: Frank D’Agostino (2nd season)

Last year: 4-18, 1-11 D-I

Returnees: Kobe D’Agostino (sr., G), Mark Weinus (sr., F), Luke Rossi (sr., F),

Newcomers: Austin Fick (sr., F-C), Brett Mars (sr., F), Kyle Fidler (jr., F), David Snedden (soph., G), Jake Leininger (fr., G-F), Collin Griffiths (soph., G-F),

Outlook: D’Agostino has progressed into one of the best guards in the league as the Cardinals look to develop players to build around him. They have a good mix of strength and athleticism as well as some shooters to hit from the perimeter. The program is still rebuilding. Goals are to make districts and have a signature win against a quality opponent.

 

Pottsville

Head coach: Dave Mullaney (8th season)

Last year: 24-6, 11-1 D-I. Division I champion, Schuylkill League runner-up, District 11 Class AAA runner-up, PIAA Class AAA second round

Returnees: Travis Blankenhorn (sr., G), Eli Nabholz (sr., F), Ty Painter (sr., G), Connor Hinchliffe (sr., G), Derek Shuman (sr., G), Jed Dunkel (jr., F), Jordan Melochick (jr., G), Christian Witman (jr., G)

Newcomers: Pat Coyle (sr., G), Muldeen Thomas (jr., G), Pat Schenk (jr., G), Tanner Gerchak (jr., G), Jordan Abdo (soph., G), Ian Renninger (fr., F)

Outlook: The expectations are always high for the Crimson Tide and this season is no different. All five starters return and the newcomers are pushing them for playing time, so there is plenty of depth to back the talent already in place. Division I and overall league favorite.

 

Tamaqua

Head coach: Caszy Kosciolek (4th season)

Last year: 13-10, 6-6 D-I. District 11 Class AAA qualifier

Returnees: Brett Kosciolek (sr., G-F), Bo Rottet (sr., G), Tyler Skripko (sr., F), Russell Blaker (jr., G), Ben Miller (sr., G), Nate MacDonald (sr., F)

Newcomer: Thaddaeus Zuber (fr., G)

Outlook: The Raiders have plenty of offensive punch. In order to take the next step and compete for a division title, the defense has to improve. If that happens, the Raiders could find themselves in the running for a spot in the league playoffs.

Division II

This is a wide-open division, with at least four teams having a shot depending how things shake out.

Senior guard Cody Miller (9.0) and junior forward Nick Rodichok (10.3) are back for Williams Valley, the two-time defending division champs. The Vikings don’t have much experience after that, and how quickly the newcomers come around could be the key to the Vikings winning another division title.

Lourdes has the most starters returning with four. However, the Red Raiders are still young with just three seniors and only one, Luke Holleran (4.8 ppg), expected to see any significant playing time.

Lourdes returns its leading scorer in 6-5 sophomore center Larry Czeponis (10.7 ppg), junior forward Jordan Fobia (9.2 ppg) and sophomore guard Kenny Pawelizyk (6.6 ppg). The guards are quick and Red Raiders may press more to take advantage of that.

The two starters returning for Minersville are point guard Collin Hashin (6.8 ppg) and forward Spencer Tobin (7.8 ppg), both seniors. Two of the new starters, juniors Jon McBreen (5.7 ppg) and Chris Leshko (5.0 ppg), saw plenty of playing time last year.

Tri-Valley came up a win short of qualifying for districts last season and return its leading scorer in junior forward Jaden Buchanan (9.5 ppg). Juniors Bryce Yearsley (4.0 ppg) and Bryce McNally (1.7 ppg) both started on and off last year.

The Bulldogs likely won’t be a high-scoring team, so their success could come down to how well they play defense.

 

Lourdes

Head coach: Pete Long (13th season)

Last year: 12-12, 3-10 D-II. District 4 Class AA qualifier

Returnees: Luke Holleran (sr., F), Jordan Fobia (jr., G), Michael Padula (soph., G), Larry Czeponis (soph., C), Kenny Pawelizyk (soph., G), Coby Feese (soph., F)

Newcomers: Billy Allen (sr., F), Vinnie Bucanelli (jr., G)

Outlook: The Red Raiders are young and will be led by a strong sophomore class. Quick guards could lead to more pressure defense. Should be improved and will be in the division-title hunt.

 

Minersville

Head coach: Cliff Woodford (8th season)

Last year: 16-8, 10-3. District 11 Class AA semifinalist

Returnees: Spencer Tobin (sr., F), Collin Hashin (sr., G), Jon McBreen (jr., G), Chris Leshko (jr., G), Dylan Stephen (jr., G)

Newcomers: Storm Fekette (sr., G), Zach Brown (sr., G), Tom Moran (sr., C), Dave Graham (jr., F), Brian Brennan (jr., F), Adam Stoppie (jr., F), Justin Fedornak (jr., C), Israel Martinez (jr., F),

Outlook: The Miners lost their two leading scorers to graduation, but have experience returning. The outside shooting should improve, while a quicker lineup should mean more of the man-to-man defense that Woodford wants to play. Without much height, the key to a successful season could come down to rebounding. A division title contender.

 

Schuylkill Haven

Head coach: Fran Murphy (3rd season)

Last year: 0-22, 0-13 D-II

Returnees: Zavier Webb (sr., F), Danny Blugis (sr., G), Mike Ulsh (sr., F), Brad Fryer (sr., C), J.T. Hughes (jr., G), Austin Charles (jr., F-C), Ethan Conage (jr., G)

Newcomers: None

Outlook: The Hurricanes have only one place to go that is up. They’re working hard to improve and have another year of experience, with Blugis and Webb three-year starters. There isn’t much size, so rebounding will be important. The goals are be competitive in every game and grab a more few wins.

 

Tri-Valley

Head coach: Mike Masser (4th season)

Last year: 10-12, 6-7 D-II

Returnees: Jericho Zemencik (sr., C), Jaden Buchanan (jr., G-F), Bryce McNally (jr., G), Bryce Yearsley (jr., G), Dan Opozda (jr., F)

Newcomers: Justin Ziegmont (soph., G), Ashton Buchanan (fr., G), Logan Yoder (fr., F)

Outlook: The Bulldogs lost three starters to graduation and have only one senior starting. The guards are more experienced and that should help cut down on the turnovers that have hurt in recent years. The key to the season could be how well the Bulldogs play defense. Should be in the division title mix.

 

Williams Valley

Head coach: Denny Kasper (20th season)

Last year: 19-5, 11-2 D-II. Division II champ, District 11 Class AA qualifier

Returnees: Cody Miller (sr., G), Nick Rodichok (jr., F)

Newcomers: Peppe Mini (jr., G), Siul Sepulveda (jr., G), Garrett Zimmerman (jr., F), Landon Bordner (jr., C)

Outlook: Two solid scorers return for the Vikings, who lost four key players to graduation, including three starters. Kasper likes the work ethic and attitude. The concerns are the lack of experience and playing consistently as a team. Some new faces will have to step up for the recent success to continue. If that happens, the Vikings will be in the division race, too.

Division III

Mahanoy Area went out in style last season during Holland’s final year.

The Golden Bears won their first overall league title since 2006. They also won their second consecutive District 11 Class A title and reached the second round of the PIAA playoffs.

Not only is Hudson new, so is the entire starting lineup.

The only starter expected to return was senior point guard Jason Richmond (5.8 ppg), but he tore his ACL early during football season and likely won’t play at all this winter.

Two of the new starters are senior forward Brian Miller (5.9 ppg) and junior guard-forward Matt Yedsena (4.0 ppg). Miller has had some spot starts in the past, while Yedsena’s playing time increased as last season went along.

Hudson is stressing fundamentals, and like Holland, defense and patience on offense.

Marian is the deepest team in the division and will use it to its full advantage. Among the key people returning are senior forwards Mike Vercusky (8.0 ppg), Nick Wesner (3.0) and Chris Weber along with senior guard Matt Karnish (2.8) and sophomore guard Ethan Kuczynski (5.5).

Nativity is coming off its best season since 2007. Other than Yordy, however, the only other returning starters are senior Dominic Piccioni (3.2 ppg) and senior guard-forward Cullen Hoppel (4.7 ppg). Piccioni took over for Hoppel when he went down with serious concussion suffered against Tri-Valley on Jan. 10. Hoppel has fully recovered and will be back in the lineup.

The Hilltoppers want to run an up-tempo offense. They aren’t very deep, however, and their starters will see a ton of minutes.

 

Mahanoy Area

Head coach: Scott Hudson (1st season)

Last year: 25-3, 13-0 D-III. Division III champion, Schuylkill League champion, District 11 Class A champion, PIAA Class A second round

Returnees: Brian Miller (sr., F-C), Jason Richmond (sr., G, injured) Matt Yedsena (jr., G-F)

Newcomers: Peter Luddy (sr., F), Cody Price (sr., F), Mike Wronski (jr., G), Marcus Styka (jr., F), Mike Joseph (soph., G), Randy Derr (soph., F)

Outlook: Not only is Hudson replacing a legend, he also has to replace all five starters. This group of players has had success at the junior varsity level and if that translates to the varsity level, the Golden Bears will be in the division-title hunt again.

 

Marian

Head coach: John Patton (5th season)

Last year: 9-14, 7-6 D-III. District 11 Class A quarterfinalist

Returnees: Mike Vercusky (sr., F), Matt Karnish (sr., G), Chris Weber (sr., F), Nick Wesner (sr., F), Ethan Kuczynski (soph., G)

Newcomers: Chris Carmona (sr., F), Adam Cortes (jr., G), Aaron DeAngelo (jr., F), Hunter Puza (jr., G), John Woitko (jr., G), Ryan Karchner (soph., G-F), Brandon Mohammed (soph., F), Ian Myers (soph., F), Kyle Plesh (soph., F)

Outlook: The Colts have a ton of depth with 16 players on the varsity roster. All 16 could play. They don’t have a go-to scorer yet and plan on mixing and matching lineups each game. The record should improve. Division title contender.

 

Nativity

Head coach: Kevin Kennedy (3rd season)

Last year: 17-7, 10-3 D-III. District 11 Class A semifinalist

Returnees: Jeff Yordy (sr., G), Dominic Piccioni (sr., G), Cullen Hoppel (sr., G-F), Sean Greco (sr., F), Travis Hunyara (jr., F-C)

Newcomers: Ayden Adams (jr., G-F), Eric Nelson (jr., C), Simon Petzel (jr., G), Andrew Belding (jr., F)

Outlook: Yordy will lead the Hilltoppers, and the challenge will finding new faces to step into the starting lineup and contribute. Defense and rebounding will be a key, while the lack of depth might be a concern. Should be in the division running, too.

 

Shenandoah Valley

Head coach: Robbie Miller (5th season)

Last year: 5-17, 4-9 D-III

Returnees: Ian McCole (jr., G-F), Noah Allegretta (soph., G)

Newcomers: Josh White (jr., F), Julio Cabrera (jr., F), Ricardo Chagolla-Rojas (jr.), Joel Santana (soph., G), Isaiah Alvarez (soph., F), Bobby Ryan (soph.), Matt Creasy (soph.), Jermaine McNeil (soph.), Noah Raisner (soph.)

Outlook: The Blue Devils are deep and athletic at the guard position. They put a ton of work in during the offseason and Miller believes it is starting to show. Should be improved, but how many more wins it leads to remains to be seen.

 

Weatherly

Head coach: Ron Cann (8th season)

Last year: 5-17, 1-12 D-III

Returnees: Luke Reiner (sr., G), Brett Kelly (sr., G), Nick Miller (sr., G), Luke Figas (jr., G), Dillon Bizarre (jr., C)

Newcomers: Gary Buck (jr., F), Zach Moon (fr., G), Zach Peiser (soph., C)

Outlook: The Wreckers return two double-digit scorers in Reiner (11.0 ppg, 30 3-pointers) and Figas (10.3). There is experience among the starters, but there isn’t off the bench. The first five will see plenty of minutes. Could make some noise in the division.

Tri-Valley League

Upper Dauphin

The Trojans finished third in the league last season and reached the District 3 Class A quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Upper Dauphin didn’t have much trouble scoring points (56.8 ppg last year) and will be led this season by junior guard Matthew Miller, the Trojans’ second-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, including a team-leading 41 3-pointers.

Also back are seniors Joseph Trently (5.3 ppg, 33 3-pointers), Dakotah Wiest and Ted Calnon, along with junior Alex Uhler (5.9 ppg).

 

Upper Dauphin

Head coach: Anthony Weaver (5th season)

Last year: 13-11, 9-7 TVL. District 3 Class AA quarterfinalist

Returnees: Joseph Trently (sr., G), Dakotah Wiest (sr., C), Ted Calnon (sr., G), Matthew Miller (jr., G), Alex Uhler (jr., F), Jordan Gessner (jr., G)

Newcomers: Maxwell Snyder (jr., G), Kolby Bond (jr., G), Drake Lenker (jr., G), Travis Deitrich (jr., G), Calen Reigner (jr., F), Andrew Norris (jr., F)

Outlook: The Trojans should be able to put the ball in the hoop, with experienced offensive threats back. There is plenty of depth, too. Size is lacking, so rebounding will be a key. A return trip to the district playoffs is a strong possibility.

Berks League

Hamburg

The Hawks lost two of their most productive offensive players to graduation and will look to three returnees — seniors Dan Fink (1.8 ppg) and Nick Schlottman (6.7) and junior Logan Adams (22 points) — to pick up the slack.

Hamburg has some size inside in 6-6 Jared Lesher (22 points) and 6-7 Quinn Nabozny, and their development could lead to an improvement for an offense that averaged 38.4 points per game last season.

The defense (61.1 points allowed per game), must improve, too.

Berks Catholic, which lost in the league championship game last season to Wilson 43-41, is one of the Section II favorites again. Conrad Weiser and Fleetwood should be in the mix, too.

 

Hamburg

Head coach: Ryan McGinley (2nd season)

Last year: 3-19, 0-10 Berks II

Returnees: Dan Fink (sr., G), Nick Schlottman (sr., G-F), Logan Adams (jr., G)

Newcomers: Jared Lesher (jr., F), Lucas Hauck (jr., F), Quinn Nabozny (soph., F)

Outlook: McGinley continues his quest to rebuild the Hawks’ program. New scorers need to step up, while the team needs to continue to improve in all facets of the game. If that happens, the Hawks could be more competitive and earn a few more victories.

Independent

Gillingham Charter

The Wolf Pack, who will once again play their home games at the Simon Kramer Institute in New Philadelphia, are in their third season as a program and still searching for their first victory.

Not only does Gillingham Charter have a new head coach, the Wolf Pack are also playing a 21-game regular-season schedule. They have also doubled the number of players from seven last year to 14 this winter.

Since the program is still fairly new and a good many of the players are still gaining experience, it was rough most nights last season. Guard-forward Storm Hutchinson is the only senior, while juniors Isaiah Thompson, Nate Woodling, Blake Broadhurst and Lake Miller each bring two years of varsity experience.

 

Gillingham Charter

Head coach: Pete Sanfilippo (1st season)

Last year: 0-11

Returnees: Storm Hutchinson (sr., G-F), Isaiah Thompson (jr., G), Nate Woodling (jr., F), Blake Broadhurst (jr., G), Lake Miller (jr., F)

Newcomers: Damy Cintron (jr., G), Enoch Holbert (fr., F), Jetsiel Rivera (fr., F), Jadiel Rivera (fr., G)

Outlook: The Wolf Pack are a young team with only one senior, but do have experience returning. The program has more players than its ever had and will play a full schedule of games. The hope is to continue to become more competitive, see the program continue to grow and finally get a win.

Schuylkill League

Boys’ Basketball

2013-14 Standings

DIVISION I

Leag. Over.

*Pottsville 11-1 24-6

#Blue Mountain 11-1 21-7

North Schuylkill 8-4 16-7

Tamaqua 6-6 13-10

Panther Valley 4-8 10-12

Jim Thorpe 1-11 2-20

Pine Grove 1-11 4-18

DIVISION II

*Williams Valley 11-2 19-5

Minersville 10-3 16-8

Tri-Valley 6-7 10-12

Lourdes 3-10 12-12

Schuylkill Haven 0-13 0-22

DIVISION III

*Mahanoy Area 13-0 25-3

Nativity 10-3 17-7

Marian 7-6 9-14

Shenandoah Valley 4-9 5-17

Weatherly 1-12 5-17

 

Division I tiebreaker

Pottsville 51, Blue Mountain 42

League semifinals

Mahanoy Area 49, Blue Mountain 35

Pottsville 56, Williams Valley 30

Championship

Mahanoy Area 45, Pottsville 44

District champions

Mahanoy Area (District 11 Class A)

State qualifiers

Class AAA — Blue Mountain, Pottsville (reached second round); Class A — Mahanoy Area (reached second round)

All games start at 7:30 p.m.

 

Pottsville 63

Governor Mifflin 40

Eli Nabholz scored 19 points, knocking down five 3-pointers on the night, as the Crimson Tide rolled past the Mustangs in a non-league game at Martz Hall.

Nabholz had eight of his points in the first quarter as Pottsville raced out to an 18-3 lead. Travis Blankenhorn scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half for the Crimson Tide.

GOVERNOR MIFFLIN (40) — Obid 5 1-2 12, Tisdale 0 0-0 0, Sczepkowski 0 0-0 0, Buchanan 1 0-0 3, Peters 2 5-6 11, Hoff 2 0-1 4, Rodriguez 2 0-2 4, Willet 1 0-2 2, Bortz 0 0-0 0, Smith 1 0-0 2, Strausser 0 0-0 0, Klahr 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 6-13 40.

POTTSVILLE (63) — Hinchliffe 0 0-0 0, Gerchak 0 0-0 0, Painter 2 2-2 7, Blankenhorn 6 4-7 16, Thomas 1 2-2 4, Dunkel 0 0-0 0, Melochick 2 3-6 8, Shuman 1 0-0 3, Witman 0 0-0 0, Abdo 2 0-0 6, Nabholz 6 2-2 19, Coyle 0 0-1 0, Renninger 0 0-0 0, Schenk 0 0-0 0, O’Pake 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-20 63.

GM (1-3) 3 8 15 14 — 40 Potts. (2-0) 18 14 15 16 — 63

3-point FGs: Obid, Buchanan, Peters 2, Painter, Melochick, Shuman, Abdo 2, Nabholz 5

JV score: Pottsville 55-22

Scorbitz -Martz Hall App

Maxpreps

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

 Crimson Tide Opens up with Victory over Wilson
 
The Crimson Tide opened up the season with a 48-33 victory over the Wilson Bulldogs.  Travis Blankenhorn led the Tide with 12 points, followed by Eli Nabholz 11 points. The Tide played a tough defense holding Wilson to 33 points. The Tide will be playing Governor Mifflin this Friday at home.
 
Pottsville Crimson Tide 
Hinchliffe 2 0-0 4, Gerchak 0 0-0 0, Painter 1 2-2 4, Blankenhorn 4 2-3 12, Dunkel 1 0-2 2, Melochick 0 1-2 1, Shuman 1 0-0 3, Witman 1 1-5 3, Abdo 2 0-0 6, Nabholz 4 3-4 11, Coyle 0 0-0 0, Renninger 1 0-0 2, Schenk 0 0-0 0, Totals 17 9-18 (48) 
 
Wilson Bulldogs
McElroy 4 1-3 11, Deboath 2 0-0 4, Jackson 0 4-6 4, Rapplleye 0 0-0 0, Sload 1 4-7 6, Jollah 0 0-2 0, Lubas 1 5-6 7, Hollenbach 0 0-2 0, Awurumibe 0 0-0 0, Marlon 0 1-2 1, Totals 8 15-28 (33)
 
Pottsville (1-0) 9  15   13  11  (48)
Wilson (0-1) 5   8   6   14  (33) 
 
3-Pointers: McElroy (2), Blankenhorn (2), Abdo (2), Shuman (1) 
 

"Here We Go"

Tide opens up against Wilson Bulldogs

 

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2014 - 2015 Season

   

W - L

Pottsville Crimson Tide   48

Wilson Bulldogs  33

W

Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Governor Mifflin Mustangs  

W

Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Pine Grove Cardinals  

W

Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Blue Mountain Eagles  

W

Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Salisbury Falcons


Pottsville Crimson Tide.  

North Schuylkill Spartans


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Nativity Green Wave  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Williamsport Millionaires  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Tamaqua Blue Raiders  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Shamokin Indians  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Panther Valley Panthers  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Lehighton Indians


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Jim Thorpe Olympians  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Pine Grove Cardinals  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Muhlenberg Mules  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Blue Mountain Eagles  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

North Schuylkill Spartans  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Tamaqua Blue Raiders  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Berks Catholic


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Panther Valley Panthers  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Lehighton Indians  


Pottsville Crimson Tide  

Jim Thorpe Olympians  


Print

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

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Photo By John Liddle

2014 - 2015 Crimson Tide Team

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Crimson Tide ranks 8th in the state AAA Bracket

1. Archbishop Carroll(12, 23-5) — previous ranking: 5 — Packing D-I recruits Derrick Jones and Ernest Aflakpui into the same frontcourt for the third year in a row, Paul Romanczuk’s Patriots won’t have another chance to reel in a state title with that tandem in Carroll uniforms — unless they get it done this season. Just a sophomore, David Beatty’s emergence could be the key to developing more space for Jones and Aflakpui to operate in the paint.

2. Neumann-Goretti(12, 27-4) — previous ranking: 1 — Although Carl Arrigale’s 14-man Neumann-Goretti roster features 11 guards, fortunately he’s got three really, really good ones returning from a Saints squad that last March claimed its fourth state title in five seasons by topping Susquehanna Twp. in overtime. All-stater Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble (St. Joseph’s) should get plenty of looks with Ja’Quan Newton off to Miami (Fla.), but Quade Green and Vaughn Covington are mighty good, too.

3. Susquehanna Twp.(3, 23-8) — previous ranking: 2 — With four starters returning from last season’s state finalists — including all-state guard Nehemiah “Bud” Mack — Vince Rogers’ Indians already were looking forward to tipping off the 2014-15 season. Once Dejour Williams returned following two seasons at Harrisburg to rejoin Mack, Joe Marshall, Quintin Ward and Roman Letterlough in the Susquehanna lineup, expectations quickly grew even bigger. Yet another rugged schedule of games will test the Indians on a nightly basis.

4. Indiana(7, 20-3) — previous ranking: NR — Packing plenty of size — the Stapletons, Riley and Dylan, Blake Shields, Kevin Jack and Jacob Zilinskas are 6-3 or taller — the Indians are heavy favorites to capture the WPIAL’s Section 3 crown. And with Chris McConnell manning the backcourt — he’s the nephew of former Penn State All-American Suzie McConnell and the cousin of former Class AAA player of the year T.J. McConnell — Indiana can get opponents in a number of ways.

5. Uniontown (7, 22-3) — previous ranking: HM — While the Red Raiders had a sparkling 2013-14 campaign derailed in the second round of states by Farrell, Rob Kezmarsky’s club has more than enough firepower to make another lengthy run. Start with versatile 6-7 forward Joe Campbell, an inside-outside threat who can finish from all over the floor. Jeremy Perkins, Deandre Winfrey and Lyric Ellis will provide balance for a really athletic Uniontown club.

6. Imhotep Charter(12, 20-7) — previous ranking: HM — Andre Noble’s Panthers may have bowed out of last year’s Class AAA state playoffs prematurely — Imhotep was eliminated by Susquehanna Twp. in the opening round — but the chances of that happening again are mighty, mighty slim. Especially since Devin Liggeons (Wagner) and lightning-quick guards Jaekwon Carlyle and Daron Russell likely will take turns having the ball in their hands.

7. Mars(7, 15-10) — previous ranking: HM — Although flush with sophomores last season, Rob Carmody still found a way to guide his youthful group of Planets into the state playoffs. While Carmody’s club was eliminated by Central Valley in the opening round, just having that experience should be a plus going forward. Especially for 6-5 hammer John Castello, who last season averaged a double-double (16.8 ppg, 15.6 rpg). Freshman Robby Carmody may be ready to pitch in, too.

8. Pottsville(11, 24-6) — previous ranking: HM — Since Dave Mullaney’s Crimson Tide returns all five starters from a hard-working club that gave Susquehanna Twp. all sorts of problems in a state second-rounder, opposing coaches may be checking into Martz Hall to check out Pottsville. Forwards Travis Blankenhorn, Eli Nabholz and Jordan Melochick averaged in double figures a season ago.

9. Scranton Prep(2, 21-3) — previous ranking: HM — While the Cavaliers didn’t qualify for the state playoffs, enthusiasm is running high since Andrew Kettel’s club returned the backcourt tandem of Tim Rose (Binghamton) and Bobby Casey. Both averaged 14-plus points per outing. They’ll get tested often, too, since Prep has juiced up its schedule by adding Parkland, Georgetown Prep and Roman Catholic.

10. Beaver Falls (7, 20-8) — previous ranking: 8 (AA) — Just two seasons removed from winning a PIAA Class AA title, Doug Biega’s Tigers now find themselves chasing Class AAA gold. Can it happen? Sure. Particularly since Beaver Falls returns speedy guard Javon Turner and sophomore bigs Donovan Jeter (6-5) and Josh Creach (6-6). Another youngster, freshman Torian Leak, also is expected to start.

OTHERS TO WATCH: Allentown Central Catholic (11) 29-1, Ambridge (7) 17-7, Berks Catholic (3) 24-6, Bishop McDevitt (3) 27-3, Cathedral Prep (10) 15-8, Del-Val Charter (12) 19-8, GAR Memorial (2) 21-7, Greater Johnstown (6) 12-11, Hampton (7) 24-5, Holy Ghost Prep (1) 23-7, Huntingdon (6) 15-9, Lewisburg (4) 23-4, Manheim Central (3) 24-5, New Castle (7) 31-0, Philly Electrical (12) 19-12, Somerset (5) 16-9, Steel Valley (7) 15-5, Strong Vincent (10) 17-9.

 

BOYS' BB: High-scoring trio

Nativity’s Jeff Yordy was mentored by his father Mike, a star at Saint Clair in the late 1980s.

Tamaqua’s Brett Kosciolek has fond memories of playing HORSE with his aunt Anne Marie Kosciolek, one of the best female players in Pennsylvania at Marian in the 1970s.

When he was in junior high, Pottsville’s Travis Blankenhorn used to watch former Pottsville standout Nick Schlitzer display his skills for the Crimson Tide.

Yordy, Kosciolek and Blankenhorn were introduced to basketball at an early age and the game has remained a part of each for their entire lives. It likely always will.

The Schuylkill League is known for its defense, but the three have excelled offensively as Yordy (25.0 points per game), Kosciolek (18.8 ppg) and Blankenhorn (16.5 ppg) finished 1-2-3 in the league in scoring average last season.

The three are back for their senior seasons, bringing with them a special feat in a defensive-oriented league: All three are returning 1,000-point scorers. Yordy has 1,191 career points, Blankenhorn 1,106 and Kosciolek 1,034.

The three hit the century mark last season.

Yordy was first, reaching his milestone Jan. 27, 2014, with a 37-point performance on Lawton’s Hill against Weatherly, a 79-48 Hilltoppers’ victory. Kosciolek was next, hitting the mark Feb. 6, 2014, scoring 22 points in a 59-40 victory at Panther Valley. Blankenhorn followed, scoring 10 on Feb. 12, 2014, a 56-30 victory over Williams Valley in the Schuylkill League semifinals at Martz Hall.

All three are multi-sport athletes, and what makes them even more unique is that baseball, not basketball, is their main sport. Both Blankenhorn (University of Kentucky) and Kosciolek (Rider) have signed NCAA Division I letters of intent to play baseball when they graduate. Yordy is still deciding between Elizabethtown College and Lebanon Valley.

Still, they have fit basketball into their busy athletic careers, and their offensive skills have evolved since they were freshmen. Most important-

ly, the three have also been committed to helping their programs win.

Here’s a look at the high school careers of Yordy, Kosciolek and Blankenhorn and their paths to 1,000 career points and beyond.

Yordy follows in his father’s footsteps

One could say Jeff Yordy was destined to play basketball. Mike Yordy finished with 1,154 career points at Saint Clair from 1985-89, and was also a part of the Saints’ last high school boys’ team after the school closed following his senior year.

“I’ve had a hoop in my living room since I was able to walk,” Jeff Yordy said. “There are pictures of me shooting and stuff.

“My dad loved it and he wanted me to get into it as young as I could.”

Reaching 1,000 career points wasn’t on Yordy’s mind when he was a freshman and he never kept track of his career numbers. It wasn’t until his junior year that he realized the milestone could be reached.

Yordy was also the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore, averaging 17.8 pointer per game. He poured in 596 points last year.

When Yordy first started out, he was mostly a perimeter player. But during his sophomore and junior years, he’s worked on scoring off the dribble and driving to the basket more.

“My sophomore year I knew I was going to play a lot more than my freshman year, so that is what I wanted to work on,” Yordy said. “So I worked on that and got pretty good at it. And last year I kept getting better.”

The Hilltoppers have also become a winning program during Yordy’s time at Nativity, going 29-19 the past two seasons. Last year the Hilltoppers had their best season in seven years, going 16-7 overall and reaching the District 11 Class A semifinals for the first time since 2007.

Of the three, Yordy is the only one that takes part in any extensive organized basketball over the summer in a league in Tamaqua, while playing American Legion baseball for Schuylkill Valley.

Yordy played golf for Nativity his sophomore and junior years. This past fall, went out for football for the first time in high school and was a standout receiver for the Hilltoppers, leading the area with 51 catches for 1,045 yards and 17 touchdowns.

One area Yordy feels he needs to improve upon is his 67 percent career foul-shooting average. He is the only experienced scorer returning for Nativity and is working on being able to distribute the basketball more to his teammates.

Kosciolek key part of Tamaqua’s revival

Basketball was in Brett Kosciolek’s family, too.

His father Caszy, who is in his fourth season as the Blue Raiders’ head coach, also played the sport. Brett figures he picked up a ball when he was 2 years old, shooting baskets at a Little Tykes hoop. He also remembers playing HORSE with his aunt Ann Marie (Kosciolek) Clausius, who scored 2,164 career points at Marian from 1972-76. She was also Pennsylvania’s first female to score 2,000 career points in 1976.

The game has stuck with him.

“It is a competitive sport,” he said on why he has stuck with it. “It is fun. I like to challenge myself.”

Kosciolek has been a starter since he was a freshman and had an immediate impact for the Raiders. Getting to 1,000 career points was always a goal of his.

“It was in the back of my mind,” he said. “I knew it was possible. I knew it was going to be challenging, but I did it somehow.”

Kosciolek’s best season was his sophomore year when he scored 390 points, a 16.3 average per game. He scored 320 last season (18.8 per game) and would have had more but missed six games with a concussion.

Kosciolek used to play on travel basketball teams when he was young, but due to baseball he doesn’t play much organized basketball in the offseason and over the summer anymore. He is also used to playing sports year-round and was a member of the Tamaqua football team his freshman and sophomore years.

“I just fit it in,” Kosciolek said of basketball. “We’ve gone from season to season my whole life, pretty much.”

Kosciolek also helped turned the Raiders into a winning program as Tamaqua has gone 27-20 the past two seasons.

At 6-foot-7, Kosciolek has the ability to hit 3-pointers but also score in the paint. He was more of a perimeter player as a freshman and has developed more of an inside game as he’s developed.

That has been a big focus of his work offensively this preseason. Kosciolek is working on his defense, too. He, and rest of the Raiders, know defense is something that has to improve if Tamaqua wants to contend for a Division I title this season and make a run in the District 11 Class AAA playoffs.

“Right now we have the talent to score but if we hold our opponents, we know we can go decently far,” he said.

Blankenhorn helps Tide continue winning ways

Like Yordy and Kosciolek, Blankenhorn doesn’t remember when he first picked up a basketball and has been playing the sport competitively since the Biddy leagues. He grew up watching Schlitzer play for the Crimson Tide and just missed playing along side of him by one year.

“I didn’t get a chance to play with him, but it would have been pretty cool if I did,” Blankenhorn said.

Reaching 1,000 points for his career was always a goal in Blankenhorn’s mind when was a freshman.

“It is kind of like a milestone in your varsity career, making 1,000 points,” he said. “That is what a lot of people talk about. Winning was most important, but making 1,000 points while doing that and helping the team, that is always good.”

Blankenhorn played a complimentary role alongside Brandon Bridy his first two seasons, averaging 11 points per game as a freshman and 13.7 as a sophomore. When Bridy graduated following the 2012-13 season, Blankenhorn stepped up and put up the best offensive numbers of his career last year, scoring 545 points. He was The Republican-Herald Co-Player of the Year with Mahanoy Area’s Dylan Mahmod.

Pottsville went 24-6 in 2013-14, winning its fifth consecutive Division I title and reaching the league championship game for the fifth consecutive year. The Crimson Tide also made it to their first District 11 Class AAA title game since 2010 and won their first PIAA playoff game since 1974.

Blankenhorn was mostly a 3-point shooter as a freshman, but added more dimension to his offensive game by learning to score in the post and drive to basket.

“When I was a freshman I didn’t get a lot of post touches or anything, so I definitely worked on a lot of those moves,” Blankenhorn said. “I felt like my dribbling got better so I could drive more. I felt my game got better as time went on because when I was a freshman, I was primary just a shooter.”

Blankenhorn’s focus this preseason is working on his ball-handling skills.

“I could be a lot better,” he said.

For most of his high-school career, Blankenhorn was a standout in football, too, playing wide receiver, defensive back, punter and kick returner for the Crimson Tide. However, he didn’t go out for football this past fall. Blankenhorn competed in numerous showcase baseball tournaments this past summer in the hopes of getting drafted in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft next June.

He isn’t home much over the summer, so Blankenhorn doesn’t have much of an opportunity to pick up a basketball. Still, the game will always be a part of him even as he turns his attention to baseball for good when he graduates.

“I just love to do it,” Blankenhorn said. “Even when I get older playing baseball, if I am playing baseball when I get older, I am still going to want to play around, shoot around with a basketball with my friends.”

Milestone numbers

Jeff Yordy, Nativity

Date reached 1,000 career points: Jan. 27, 2014, vs. Weatherly

Career point total: 1,191

Career point average: 17.8 in 67 games

 

Brett Kosciolek, Tamaqua

Date reached 1,000 career points: Feb. 6, 2014, vs. Panther Valley

Career point total: 1,034

Career point average: 16.4 in 63 games

 

Travis Blankenhorn

Pottsville

Date reached 1,000 career points: Feb. 12, 2014, vs. Williams Valley

Career point total: 1,106

Career point average: 14.5 in 76 games

Philadelphia University - Kutztown University Game

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kutztown downs Philadelphia U. at Martz Hall

              

If the Crimson Tide Invitational becomes an annual event at Martz Hall, it couldn’t have gotten off to a better, or more exciting, start.

Pocono Mountain West graduate Tynell Fortune scored a game-high 19 points, while Kutztown hit 9-of-12 from the foul line in the second overtime during the Golden Bears’ thrilling 75-72 non-conference victory over Philadelphia University in front of 1,124 fans Tuesday.

The contest was the final of three college basketball games at Martz Hall this past week, starting with a Penn State Hazleton-Penn State Schuylkill men’s and women’s doubleheader last Thursday. Tuesday’s contest was supposed to be headlined by a head-to-head meeting between Pottsville graduates Nick Schlitzer (Philadelphia) and Brandon Bridy (Kutztown).

However, it never happened.

Schlitzer, a senior who graduated from Pottsville in 2011 as the Crimson Tide’s all-time leading scorer with 1,884 points, had a double-double for Philadelphia (2-3) with game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds. Bridy, a sophomore and 2013 Pottsville grad, spent Tuesday as he has the entire season — watching from the bench with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Tuesday was the first time Schlitzer played at Martz Hall since the Crimson Tide beat Pine Grove 51-49 for the Schuylkill League championship Feb. 18, 2011. He got the loudest ovation of the night during pre-game introductions. A few fans even stood up.

“It was amazing,” Schlitzer said. “To see so many familiar faces in the crowd, I just appreciate people coming back and seeing me play. It means a lot to me. I wish we could have gotten the win.”

Despite not playing, Bridy was also introduced to his hometown crowd before the game.

“It was great,” he said. “The fans, I love this building. I played here for four years. It is great to come back and see how much support you get when you go away and still come back and people following you.”

Bridy injured his shoulder about four weeks ago in practice while going for a rebound. He had surgery last Friday and is looking to be 100 percent in six months.

He will be red-shirted this season.

The injury itself is unusual since Bridy, whose last high school game at Martz Hall was a 35-21 Pottsville win over Mahanoy Area in the Schuylkill

League title game Feb. 15, 2013, never missed a game throughout his high school career with an injury.

“This is going to be a tough challenge to overcome,” Bridy said. “Every day I just have to keep working at it and think positive. It was strange being back in my home court and not playing against one of my best friends.”

Still, Bridy and the rest of the Golden Bears got enjoy a much-needed win.

Kutztown (2-3) came in off a 63-60 loss to West Chester on Saturday. The Golden Bears’ only win prior to Tuesday was a 71-62 victory Manfield last Wednesday.

“It is a huge win for us,” Bridy said. “It hopefully gets us on a good winning streak.”

Derek Johnson added 19 points for the Rams, while Peter Alexis had 15.

Howard Sellars finished with 17 points for Kutztown, while Josh Johnson and Austin Beidelman added 13 apiece. Johhson also grabbed 11 board and had four dunks.

Schlitzer became a complete offensive player during his playing days for the Crimson Tide and displayed those same skills Tuesday. He wanted to play well, and for the most part, did, finishing the night 8-for-18 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the foul line.

“It was just more of an excitement,” Schlitzer said. “You get to play in your old gym. You get a little jitters, but it is just more excitement.”

Schlitzer, the Rams’s leader in scoring (22.2 points per game) and minutes per game (38.5) coming in, scored Philadelphia’s first two points of the game, hitting two foul shots after he was fouled on a spin move in the lane. He hit a corner jumper later in the half, and then hit three foul shots with 5 minutes left in the half after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Schlitzer scored 15 of his points in the second half, including several key one late.

Back-to-back buckets by Schlitzer, a back-down move inside and layup off a cut inside, gave Philadelphia a 55-53 advantage with 3:39 remaining in regulation. Schlitzer also knocked down consecutive buckets in the first overtime, scoring on a drive and then with 40.8 seconds left, on a fall-away jump from the corner. He appeared to be trapped at first but made himself some space and hit the shot.

That gave the Rams a 63-60 lead.

However, Kutztown battled back one last time and tied the game when Sellars drained a 3 from the top of the circle with 20 seconds remaining. Schlitzer took the last shot for the Rams, but his shot in traffic from just outside the foul line with 2 seconds to go hit the rim.

The game was tied one last time at 69 with 1:47 to go, but Fortune gave Kutztown the lead for good, hitting two foul shots after he was fouled on a drive. The Rams’ Kaison Randolph made it a one-point game on a 3 with 4 seconds left before Fortune hit both ends of a double bonus to make it 75-72. 3-point try from Johnson in the corner bounced away and the Bears held on for the win.

“We had a lot of chances down the stretch, including myself” Schlitzer said. “We just weren’t able to come through. It is frustrating but we have to move on.”

Game Summary

Crimson Tide Invitational

At Martz Hall

PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY (72) — Alexis 7-11 1-3 15, Johnson 6-15 5-5 19, Huggins 1-2 0-0 2, Gibbs 3-9 2-2 9, Schlitzer 8-18 5-5 22, DiCicco 1-5 0-2 2, Randolph 1-1 0-0 3, Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 13-17 72.

KUTZTOWN (75) — Johnson 6-12 1-2 11, Selby 1-2 1-2 5, Beidelman 5-9 2-2 13, Fortune 6-15 5-7 19, Brooks 2-5 0-0 4, Ridgeway 1-3 0-0 2, Sellars 6-9 1-2 17, Sherman 0-0 0-0 0, Dietrich 0-0 0-0 0, Peal 2-8 0-0 4. Totals 29-63 10-15 75.

Philly U. (2-3) 26 31 6 9 — 72 Kutztown (2-3) 27 30 6 12 — 75

3-point FGs: Johnson 2, Gibbs, Schlitzer, Randolph, Beidelman, Fortune 2, Sellars 4

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Men’s basketball falls to Kutztown in double OT, 75-72

Schlitzer, who last played in Martz Hall in 2011 as a member of the Pottsville Crimson Tide, played all 50 minutes in Tuesday's game, shot 8-of-18 from the field and dished out three assists for the Rams (2-3).

Junior forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) contributed 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 50 minutes of action. Junior forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) added 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

Philadelphia owned a 51-44 lead after Johnson recorded a steal and fastbreak slam dunk with 8:30 left in regulation. Kutztown (2-3) responded with a 9-2 run over a 4:28 span to knot the score at 53 on an Austin Beidelman jumper.

Schlitzer made a layup 20 seconds later to put the Rams back in front and junior guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) pushed the lead to 57-53 with two successful free throws with 2:42 remaining.

Josh Johnson scored the final four points of regulation, including a dunk with 29 seconds on the clock, to tie the score at 57 and send the game to overtime.

After falling behind 60-57, Philadelphia went on a 6-0 run, capped off by four straight points from Schlitzer, to move ahead 63-60 with 39 seconds to play. Coming out of a timeout, the Golden Bears' Howard Sellars drained a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to make it a 63-63 affair.

Schlitzer's game-winning 3-point attempt with two seconds on the clock missed the mark and the game went to double overtime.

The second extra session started the same way the first one did with Kutztown getting out to a quick lead (67-63).  Alexis tied the score at 69 at the 1:59 mark with a layup.

Kutztown would go 4-for-6 from the free throw line over the next 1:31 to reestablish a four-point lead (73-69). On Philadelphia's next trip down the floor, Kaison Randolph (Trenton, N.J./Pennington Prep) buried a 3-pointer with six seconds left to close the gap to 73-72 and give the Rams life.

Three seconds later, Tynell Fortune sank two free throws to push the Golden Bear advantage to 75-72. Philadelphia had one last attempt with 2.1 seconds remaining, but Johnson's game-tying 3-point attempt was no good.

Fortune led the Golden Bears with 19 points in 37 minutes. Sellars finished up with 17 points.

Philadelphia heads to West Chester for a non-conference game on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 3 p.m.

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Crimson Tide Players Named to National Honor Society

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CRIMSON TIDE BASKETBALL PLAYERS SCORE OFF THE COURT

Four members of this years Crimson Tide Basketball team have been named to The National Honor Society. Derek Shuman, Connor Hinchliffe, Eli Nabholz and Ty Painter, all Seniors players who also excelled in the classroom.  Congratulations to our players for a great job! 

 

Tide closing in on the 2014-2015 season

 

-Team dedicates offseason for individual improvement

 

 

Summer League

 

Beginning in June our freshmen, JV, and Varsity teams began competing in our summer league at Barefield.  Our summer league continues to grow and now has a total of 22 teams.   With three teams competing, we have up to 24 players in our program competing each Tuesday and Thursday evening at our Barefield Complex.  Our varsity team was able to compile a 6-6 record in a very competitive Adult league, which continues to attract the very best adult teams and players within Schuylkill and its’ surrounding counties.  Our JV-A team went undefeated through the Junior Varsity league, while our freshmen ended with a winning record.  We are excited to see our summer league continue to grow and improve each and every year!

 

Skill Development

 

We try to pride ourselves to devoting most of our offseason to skill development.  We feel this is the number one priority for us as a program each offseason.  As we get closer to the season, we will begin to focus more on our system, but the majority of our offseason workouts involve making our players better individually.  Our skill development sessions ran Monday through Thursday mornings at Barefield and focused primarily on dribbling, passing, and shooting.   These skill sessions were often led by Nick Schlitzer and Brandon Bridy, former star players for the Tide and current college players.  Nick also ran his own day camp in July in which 27 players of ours attended.  Brandon, along with Saige Spece, another former Tide player who is now playing at Bloomsburg, helped Nick with the advanced skill development camp.

 

Strength Training

 

One area we noticed we fell short as a program in comparison to the elite teams in the state last season, was in strength, quickness, and explosiveness.  Our trainer, Dan Slotterback, who is certified in strength training, has our kids training at an all-time high.  Through strength training three days a week in the summer and two days a week during the fall, we feel we are going to be ready to meet the physical and athletic demands to compete with the very best in the state this year.

 

Team Camp

 

Our Varsity and JV teams returned to the Kutztown AFBE team camp in mid-July.  Once again, the camp provided plenty of competition from teams from the Northeast and abroad.  Our Varsity Team recorded a 9-4 record and lost a close semi-final game.  Our JV’s won their division, and did so in such an impressive fashion, they were moved up to varsity competition for the playoffs.

 

Fundraising

 

Our booster club has had another successful offseason of fundraising.  In the spring, we hosted our AFBE basketball tournament for the 2nd straight year.  In early June, we ran our sticky bun fundraiser, which was used to defer some of the cost for our beach trip.  Once again, we ran our 3 on 3 tournament at Barefield, along with our golf tournament at Hidden Valley.  This year the weather cooperated and we had a great turnout for both!  Our last fundraiser before the season will be the Philadelphia University vs Kutztown University basketball game we our hosting at Martz Hall.  Given the fact we will have two of our former star players participating, we anticipate a large crowd on November 25th at Martz!

 

Beach Trip to Stone Harbor

 

The summer of 2014 marked the first year for a beach trip for our program.  We were able to take 12 of our junior and senior players on a four day, three night beach trip to Stone Harbor at the end of July.  While the kids were able to enjoy some free time at the beach, we also got some great competition at neighboring Middle Township High School. Though competing with the Middle Twp current players, as well as former players, who are now playing collegiately and professionally, our kids were exposed to a great deal of talent.

 

 

Philadelphia University Rams

vs

Kutztown University Golden Bears

November 25, 2014 at 7;00 pm

at

Martz Hall, Pottsville

 

 Pottsville Boys Basketball Game

Crimson & White Game

at 5:30 pm

Admission: $5.00 

 

ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT POTTSVILLE BOYS BASKETBALL PROGRAMS

 

See Former Tide Players: Nick Schlitzer (Philadelphia) & Brandon Bridy (Kutztown) 

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Brandon Bridy - Kutzstown University 2013

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Crimson Tide Boys Basketball

This site was created to improve communication among our team members and to keep our fans up-to-date with the latest action and scores from our games. By including such things as the schedule, standings, and directions to Martz Hall, I hope this site will improve game attendance.

Contact us at: roll@ctideboysbasketball.com

This Site Is Donated By Craig S.L. Shields