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2020 - 2021 Pottsville Crimson Tide


Crimson Tide  - Republican Herald All-Area Boys Basketball Team
First Team
Jazce Carabello-Snowell 
Darren Yost
Honorable Mention
Nicco Heimbaugh 

Congratulations to our Senior Players





Crimson Tide Falls to ES South


The dream of an all Schuylkill County District XI Class 5A boys Championship game went by the wayside Saturday. A fast start by East Stroudsburg South spelled the end of Pottsville Boys Basketball season, while Blue Mountain fell at Bangor.

The Cavaliers rolled to 15-5 advantage after one period and then shot 14 for 20 from the foul line in the fourth period to hold off the Crimson Tide for a 57-50 victory in the District XI Class 5A semifinals.

Jazce Carabello-Snowell scored 15 points, nine of them in the fourth period, for pottsville, which ends its season at 16-4. Nico Heimbaugh added 14 points, including 4 3-pointers.

Christian Sapp scored five points and teammates Jasir Parker and Jaiden Cesanek each scored four as the Cavaliers (10-2) rolled to their 10 point edge, Pottsville trimmed the gap to a single point affter three periods, before East Stroudsburg Souths's free throws in the fourth ended the first season for Tide's coach Jake Wartella.

Parker led East Stroudsburg South with 16 points, Sapp had 12 and Pape Sarr had 10.

District XI Class 5A Semifinal:

Pottsville (50) Carabello-Snowell 4 5-7 15, Heimbaugh 4 2-2 14, Yost 4 0-0 9, Dicello 3 1-1 7, McCuller 0 0-0 0, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Sukeena 1 0-0 2, Boris 1 0-0 3, Palko 0 0-0 0 Totals 17 8-10 50

East Stroudsburg South (57) Patterson 1 1-2 3, Mileto 0 6-7 6, Sarr 1 8-10 10, Parker 6 2-3 16, Sapp 5 2-3 12, McIntyre 1 2-4 4, Cesanek 3 0-0 6 Totals 17 21-29 57


Pottsville (16-4)    5   16   14   15 -- 50

ES South (10-2)   15   12    9   21 -- 57 


Crimson Tide Rolls over Pocono Mountain East 

POTTSVILLE - Defense has been the calling card for Pottsville's boys' basketball team all season.

The Crimson Tide showed Wednesday that they can win a shootout.

Sinking 3-pointers early and free throws late, the Crimson Tide advanced to the semifinals of the District 11 Class 5A Tournament with an 80-61 victory over Pocono Mountain East at Martz Hall.

"We're a win away from a district championship game, so that's what we're preaching. We won the first one and we have two more left, and we're just here to have fun," Pottsville head coach Jake Wartella said.

In the semifinals, Pottsville will travel Saturday to East Stroudsburg South (9-2), the second seed that defeated East Stroudsburg North 70-32 on Wednesday night. The time for the game has not been announced.

Wednesday's win also answered two questions for Pottsville (16-3):

How would the Tide bounce back after falling to Nativity last Friday in the Schuylkill League championship game?

And, how well would Pottsville do against perhaps the bracket's biggest enigma?

"We had to clean up some of our mistakes from the Nativity game and the kids did a great job of that in the last three days of practice," Wartella said. "It showed in the game tonight."

While the Tide, who permit just 39 points per game, allowed a season-high 61, Pottsville also set a season best in points scored against a largely unknown group of Cardinals.

Pocono Mountain East was playing just its second game in a month. Because of a positive COVID-19 test, the team shut down after a 48-45 loss to East Stroudsburg South on Jan. 30. Its next game was a 68-51 loss to Pocono Mountain West last Saturday, giving head coach Mark Dudley's Cardinals just seven games in their regular season.

"I was nervous going into the game because, like you mentioned, we didn't know much about them," Wartella said. "But I was happy with the way our kids responded."

Wednesday's loss was Pocono Mountain East's fourth in a row.

It took a 3-point spree by the Crimson Tide late in the second period to put Pottsville in control. After the Cards' Colin Castillon scored one of his four treys in the game, PME held a 21-20 lead.

Taking a 36-26 edge at intermission, Pottsville scored 16 of the first half's final 22 points as Nicco Heimbaugh, Mike Sukeena, Raeff DiCello and Darren Yost, scoring at the buzzer, all sank triples. The Tide shot 7-for-10 from the 3-point arc in the opening half.

"We just kept working the ball," Heimbaugh, a senior, said. "We realized that they came out in a zone, and we like that for our offense. We kept attacking the gaps, getting good shots out of it, and they kept going in."

After a 22-point second period, the Tide duplicated the total in both and third and fourth quarters, but in different ways.

Pottsville dominated the third and built a lead that reached 20 points on three occasions, including the end of the period when Jazce Carabello-Snowell scored off an offensive rebound.

Carabello-Snowell had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds in the game.

Pocono Mountain East then surged to start the fourth and narrowed the gap to nine, 68-59, with 2:30 remaining, but Pottsville was efficient at the foul line to tally 12 of the game's final 14 points. The Tide went 20-for-28 in the game.

"You know, free throws are one of the most important shots in the basketball game because it comes down to winning or losing games sometimes," Heimbaugh said. "We work on them a lot. We just took our time with them tonight."

In addition to Carabello-Snowell, the Tide placed four others in double figures. DiCello led the way with 16, while Yost had 15, Heimbaugh scored 11 and Mike Sukeena added 10.

Castillon scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the opening half. Tamir Thompson tallied 17 before he was one of two Cardinals to foul out down the stretch.

It was a strong rebound for the Tide, who lost their three-year reign as Schuylkill League champions last week.

Heimbaugh said, "We wanted to come out and give it everything we got and get back on track for these next games we got. ... We've got some challenges coming up, but we're going to keep doing what we do."

Contact the writer: ccurley@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6019





Game Summary

District 11 Class 5A Quarterfinal

At Martz Hall

POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST (61) - Castillon 6 6-6 22, Glasford 2 5-6 10, Sutton 0 0-0 0, Thompson 7 3-3 17, Fermin 1 0-0 3, Campbell 0 0-0 0, Sanchez 0 0-0 0, Davis 1 0-0 2, Davalos 0 0-0 0, Jackson 1 1-1 3, Cruz 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 15-16 61.

POTTSVILLE (80) - Carabello-Snowell 6 1-1 14, Heimbaugh 2 5-6 11, Yost 3 8-9 15, DiCello 6 3-3 16, McCuller 0 0-2 0, Fenstermacher 1 1-2 3, Sukeena 4 0-0 10, Boris 3 2-2 9, Palko 1 0-3 2. Totals 26 20-28 80.

PME (3-5);15;11;12;23;-;61

Pottsville (16-3);14;22;22;22;-;80

3-point FGs: Castillon 4, Glasford, Fermin, Carabello-Snowell, Heimbaugh 2, Yost, DiCello, Sukeena 2, Boris


Crimson Tide plays Pocono Moutain East

Wednesday, March 3rd at Martz Hall at 7:00 pm

Disrict XI AAAAA Quarter Final Game 

 Come out and support the Crimson Tide 

Crimson Tide Falls to Nativity


POTTSVILLE - All you had to do was look at the joy on the players' faces, on head coach Mike Walborn's face and on the faces of a wildly enthusiastic student section to know this was history.

Nativity captured its first-ever Schuylkill League boys' basketball championship Friday night, grinding out a 57-49 victory over three-time defending champion Pottsville at Martz Hall.

The final few seconds set off a wild celebration both on court and off as the Hilltoppers won the first Battle of the Hills with a league championship at stake.

"Everyone was just so stoked for it, and we came out with a win," Nativity senior captain Kegan Hertz said after he scored 14 points and had five rebounds.

He also joined Nativity's parade to the free-throw line down the stretch, sinking three of four before teammates Cody Miller and Keegan Brennan each converted two foul shots during the final two minutes.

When it was over and the team photos were taken, the Nativity players climbed the steps of Martz Hall to greet their fellow students. They were joined by Walborn, who will be celebrated for years by fans and alumni alike for leading the Hilltoppers to a feat never accomplished.

Nativity's last appearance in the boys' league final was in 1982, when now-defunct Saint Clair took the title.

"I would just say we just kept at it," Walborn said. "Just perseverance, maybe. We just kept grinding. A couple breaks went our way which easily could have gone Pottsville's way. A team like that, you've just got to take what you can get."

Nativity (19-4) surged midway through the first half and held a 29-20 halftime lead, but Pottsville (15-3) came back behind junior guard Darren Yost, who was a pest to the Nativity attack in the third period. He had three steals and nine points in the frame.

Despite all of that, Pottsville, which last led early in the second period, never regained an edge until 6:06 remained in regulation when Nicco Heimbaugh, who had 11 points, sank one of his three 3-pointers in the game for a 44-41 advantage.

The Hilltoppers, who beat Blue Mountain in Wednesday's semifinal, tied the game at 44-44 on a three-point play by Miller, who had 10 points in the game, with 5:49 left. Nativity then took the lead to stay on senior Jake Kuperavage's triple with 5:01 remaining.

Pottsville, which beat Williams Valley in the semifinal, never caught up, twice getting within a point before Nativity got production at the foul line down the stretch. That enabled Nativity, which shot 15-for-19 at the charity stripe in the game, to tally the game's final seven points.

"They missed a couple (shots) and we got the rebounds and that was it," Walborn said of his team's final few minutes. "It could have gone either way."

Nativity's Marquis Ratcliff had a strong all-around game with 12 points, a game-best 14 rebounds and three assists.

Pottsville lost despite determined efforts by Yost and fellow junior Jazce Carabello-Snowell. The 5-foot-7 Yost had 14 points, five rebounds and seven steals, while the 6-2 Carabello-Snowell posted 15 points and 13 rebounds.

But it was not enough on this night, when this edition of the Hilltoppers matched the 2002 squad that beat Pottsville in the Battle of the Hills inside The Mecca.

"My blood's pumping, man," Hertz said. "I'm so excited for our team and how hard we worked. It's so much deserved for us."

Walborn indicated the Hilltoppers have more to achieve now that they have a Schuylkill League crown. Nativity will be the top seed in the District 11 Class A playoffs and will look to return to the PIAA Class A playoffs.

"We've got to celebrate tonight and keep going," he said.

Contact the writer: ccurley@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6019; @ChuckCurley on Twitter

Game Summary

Schuylkill League Boys' Championship

At Martz Hall

NATIVITY (57) - Chiplonia 0 0-0 0, Walborn 0 2-2 2, Brennan 3 2-2 9, J. Miller 0 0-0 0, Kuperavage 1 0-0 3, Hoffman 3 1-2 7, C. Miller 3 3-3 10, Sipes 0 0-0 0, Ratcliff 5 2-3 12, Hertz 4 5-7 14. Totals 19 15-19 57.

POTTSVILLE (49) - Carabello-Snowell 6 2-2 15, Heimbaugh 3 2-2 11, Yost 6 0-0 14, DiCello 2 2-3 6, McCuller 0 0-0 0, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Sukeena 1 0-0 3, Boris 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 6-7 49.

Nat (19-4);8;21;12;16;-;57

Potts (15-3);9;11;17;12;-;49

3-point FGs: Brennan, C. Miller, Kuperavage, Hertz, Carabello-Snowell, Heimbaugh 3, Yost 2, Sukeena.

Crimson Tide Plays Nativity on Friday Night at 8:00 for the Schuylkill League Championship

BOYS' BASKETBALL: Pottsville rolls past Williams Valley

POTTSVILLE - The Schuylkill League boys' basketball championship has turned into the Battle of the Hills.

After Pottsville dominated Williams Valley 63-33 in Wednesday night's semifinals at Martz Hall, the Crimson Tide will bid for their fourth consecutive league crown Friday night back at The Mecca when they will face Division III champion Nativity in an 8 p.m. showdown that will bring up memories of past matchups between the schools.

"It would be nice to have a sold-out Martz Hall for Friday night, but I'm sure there's going to be a pretty good crowd," Pottsville head coach Jake Wartella said, acknowledging the coronavirus that restricts attendance to 250 people per game.

If the lack of fans affected the Crimson Tide on Wednesday night, it hardly showed. Pottsville (15-2) harassed the Williams Valley (10-5) ballhandlers night long, often short-circuiting any offense that Williams Valley tried to muster. As a result, the Vikings' seven-game winning streak came to a close.

"We knew Williams Valley was going to be a tough team with seniors, but our kids just played hard and got after it tonight," Wartella said.

While the defense has always been Pottsville's calling card, the Tide received some extra benefits Wednesday night. Pottsville shot 13-for-20 from 3-point range and won the rebounding battle 30-21 even though no Crimson Tide player stands taller than 6-foot-2.

"We always preach, ‘Play hard defense,' ball movement and get open shots. When the shots are falling, we look like a much better team and we do have a lot of good shooters," Wartella said.

About the rebounding, Wartella added, "It's a huge emphasis. We are a smaller team than most teams we play, but we just preach playing hard and doing the little things right."

One of the 6-2 players, junior Jazce Carabello-Snowell had nine rebounds to lead all players. He also scored 19 points, including two treys.

Pottsville went 7-for-10 from beyond the arc in the opening half, when Williams Valley held its last lead at 4-2. Then, with Pottsville clinging to a 9-7 advantage, the Tide closed the first quarter with seven straight points, including a triple by Nicco Heimbaugh.

The surge continued into the second period as Pottsville scored 23 of the half's final 29 points. Mike Sukeena came off the bench and drained back-to-back 3-pointers, giving Pottsville a 26-9 advantage. While Pottsville's 3-point shots were finding the net, the Tide defense forced several air balls from 3-point range by the Vikings, who eventually shot 11-for-34 for the game.

Williams Valley got the final three points of the first half on a three-point play by Bryce Herb, who paced the Vikings with 14 points.

With the ball to start the second half, Pottsville scored the next nine points before Williams Valley's Jake Herman drained a triple. The Tide outscored Williams Valley 20-7 in the period to leave no doubt about the outcome.

With 12 points, Heimbaugh added three treys and Sukeena contributed two more triples, also finishing with 12 points, for the Tide. In the end, Pottsville scored 13 of its 21 baskets from 3-point range. In addition, Pottsville went 8-for-10 from the foul line while Williams Valley, which shot 53% from the stripe entering the game, went 8-for-15.

Wartella said he knows Friday night will pose a much tougher challenge after Nativity rolled to a 66-36 victory over Blue Mountain.

"Nativity's a great team," Wartella said. "They're playing great basketball. We know that."

Contact the writer: ccurley@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6019; @ChuckCurley on Twitter

BOYS' BASKETBALL: Williams Valley-Pottsville box

Game Summary


Chuck Curley

Chuck has been a sports staff writer for The Republican-Herald since 2013. Read More...


Game Summary

Schuylkill League Boys' Semifinal

At Martz Hall 

WILLIAMS VALLEY (33) - Herb 5 3-6 14, Engle 1 0-0 2, M. Evans 0 0-0 0, Achenbach 0 0-0 0, B. Evans 2 3-4 8, Herman 3 2-5 9. Totals 11 8-15 33.

POTTSVILLE (63) - Carabello-Snowell 6 5-6 19, Heimbaugh 4 0-0 12, Yost 2 0-0 6, DiCello 2 2-2 6, Bellard 0 0-0 0, McCuller 1 0-0 3, Fenstermacher 1 0-0 2, Boris 1 0-0 2, Williams 0 0-0 0, Palko 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 1-2 1, Fermaintt 0 0-0 0, Sukeena 4 0-0 12. Totals 21 8-10 63.

WV (10-5);7;6;7;13;-;33

Potts (15-2);16;16;21;10;-;63

3-point FGs: Herb, B. Evans, Herman, Carabello-Snowell 2, Heimbaugh 4, Yost 2, McCuller, Sukeena 4

Crimson Tide plays Williams Valley in Schuylkill League Semi-Finals next Wednesday February 24 at 8:00 pm

 Pottsville defeats Millionaires


 POTTSVILLE - A first-half lead and efficiency from the foul line added up to a significant non-league victory for the Pottsville boys' basketball team on Wednesday.

The Crimson Tide shot 9-for-11 from the foul line, all in the second half, as they pulled away to a 60-46 triumph over Willliamsport at Martz Hall.

Pottsville took a 27-20 halftime lead behind Jazce Carabello-Snowell, who tallied 11 of his game-high 21 points in the opening half before he shot 6-for-7 from the charity stripe in the second half. Raeff DiCello added 15 points for the winners, who notched their fourth straight victory since a loss to Pine Grove on Feb. 6.

Kenon Brown scored nine of his team-best 17 points in the fourth quarter for the visiting Class 6A Millionaires.

WILLIAMSPORT (46) - Jones 2 2-2 6, K. Brown 7 3-4 17, Evans-McQuay 2 1-3 6, Jason 1 1-2 3, Walker 0 0-0 0, R. Brown 3 2-4 8, T. Fausnaught 0 0-0 0, Taylor 0 0-0 0, Connelly-Ali 0 0-0 0, Frierson 2 2-2 6, Beagle 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 11-17 46.

POTTSVILLE (60) - Carabello-Snowell 7 6-6 21, Heimbaugh 2 0-0 5, Yost 3 2-3 8, DiCello 6 1-2 15, McCuller 1 0-0 2, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Boris 3 0-0 9, Palko 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 9-11 60.

Will (7-4);11;9;13;13;-;46

Potts (14-2);16;11;23;10;-;60

3-point FGs: Evans-McQuay, Carabello-Snowell, Heimbaugh, DiCello 2, Boris 3

JV score: Williamsport 54-48


Crimson Tide defeats the Panthers


Pottsville 58

Panther Valley 46

POTTSVILLE - Jacze Carabello-Snowell scored six of his 16 points during an 18-8, fourth-quarter run that lifted Pottsville to a Division I victory.

Darren Yost added 15 points and Raeff Dicello had 11 for the Crimson Tide, which led 40-38 after three quarters.

Steve Hood led the Panthers with 19 points.

PANTHER VALLEY (46) - Orsulak 0 0-0 0, B. Hood 2 3-3 8, Pascoe 1 2-2 5, S. Hood 7 2-3 19, Hadley 2 3-5 7, Kokinda 1 0-0 3, Weaver 1 2-2 4, Fatzie 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 12-15 46.

POTTSVILLE (58) - Carabello-Snowell 6 4-8 16, Heimbaugh 0 0-0 0, Yost 7 0-0 15, DiCello 4 3-3 11, Bellard 0 1-2 1, McCuller 1 0-1 2, Fenstermacher 2 0-0 4, Boris 3 1-1 7, Palko 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 9-15 58.

PV (4-10, 2-8);13;10;15;8;-;46

Po (13-2, 11-1);9;20;11;18;-;58

3-point FGs: S. Hood 3, B. Hood, Pascoe, Kokinda, Yost

JV score: Pottsville 76-15

Crimson Tide Rains Down 3's


Pottsville 73

Tamaqua 31

TAMAQUA - Nicco Heimbaugh knocked down six first-half triples and finished with 20 points as the Crimson Tide rolled over the Blue Raiders in the Division I matchup.

Heimbaughhad four of his treys in the second quarter when Pottsville put 27 points on the board. Jacze Carabello-Snowell was next for Pottsville with 16 points, followed by Raeff DiCello with 10.

Luke Verta scored 12 points to pace the Tamaqua offense. 

POTTSVILLE (73) - Carabello-Snowell 6 2-2 16, Heimbaugh 7 0-0 20, Yost 1 0-0 2, DiCello 4 0-0 10, Ballard 2 0-2 4, McCuller 2 0-0 4, Fenstermacher 3 0-0 9, Boris 1 0-0 2, Williams 1 0-0 2, Palko 2 0-0 4, Davis 0 0-0 0, Fermaintt 0 0-0 0. Totals 29 2-4 73.

TAMAQUA (31) - Lewis 0 0-0 0, Hoffman 1 0-0 2, Verta 4 4-6 12, Hollenbach 3 0-0 6, McLaughlin  0 0-1 0, Sherry 2 4-5 8, Andrews 0 0-0 0, Gregoire 1 0-0 3, Fannock 0 0-0 0, Hope 0 0-0 0, Berg 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-12 31.

Potts (12-2, 10-1);17;22;18;11;-;73

Tam (2-15, 1-10);9;9;10;3;-;31

3-point FGs: Heimbaugh 6, Fenstermacher 3, Carabello-Snowell 2, DiCello 2, Gregoire.

JV score: Pottsville 62-50

Crimson Tide Downs Jim Thorpe To Get Back On Track
Pottsville: JaczeCarabello-Snowell scored a game high 16 points to lead Pottsville over Jim Thorpe in a Division 1 game at Martz Hall.  Nico Heimbaugh added 10 points for the Crimson Tide, who led 25-14 at halftime.
Chris Condly led Jim Thorpe with nine points.
Jim Thorpe (33) Condly 4 0-0 9, McHugh 0 0-0 0, Richards 0 0-0 0, Warner 0 0-0 0, Hurley 3 1-1 8, Fisher 1 1-4 3, Ivey 3 0-0 6, Herron 1 3-4 5, Marykwas 1 0-0 2, Totals: 13 5-12 33
Pottsville: (46) Carabello-Snowell 7 2-4 16, Heimbaugh 2 4-5 10, Yost 1 2-4 4, Dicello 3 1-3 8, McCuller 0 2-2 2, Fenstermacher 0 0-2 0, Boris 2 0-0 6, Palko 0 0-0 0, Totals 15 11-18 46
Jim Thorpe (7-7, 5-5)   6   8   11   8 -- 33
Pottsville (11-2, 9-1)   11  14   7   14 -- 46
3-point-FGs: Condly, Hurley, Heimbaugh 2, Boris 2, Dicello 

Crimson Tide Upset By Pine Grove At the Buzzer 

POTTSVILLE - Pottsville's boys' basketball team swept all 14 Schuylkill League Division I games last season en route to the league championship.

The unbeaten division record will not happen in the 2020-21 campaign.

Pine Grove senior Kolby Geesey drained a long 3-point shot from beyond the top of the key with two seconds remaining Saturday night to boost the Cardinals to a 36-35 victory over the Crimson Tide at Martz Hall.

The Cardinals rallied from a 27-20 deficit entering the final period. Josh Leininger sank all six free throws he attempted, Derrick Boyer scored three points and Cody Griffiths and Shea Morgan each scored a basket during the rally.

Leininger led the Cardinals with eight points and Boyer had seven.

For Pottsville, Raeff DiCello led the way with 11 points. 

PINE GROVE (36) - Leininger 1 6-6 8, Boyer 3 1-2 7, D. Geesey 3 0-0 6, Griffiths 2 0-4 4, Morgan 2 0-0 5, K. Geesey 2 0-2 6. Totals 13 7-14 36.

POTTSVILLE (35) - Carabello-Snowell 3 0-0 6, Heimbaugh 2 0-0 6, Yost 3 0-0 6, DiCello 5 0-1 11, Fenstermacher 0 1-2 1, Boris 1 0-0 3, Palko 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 1-3 35.

PG (9-5, 6-3);8;5;7;16;-;36

Potts (10-2, 8-1);3;13;11;8;-;35

3-point FGs: Heimbaugh 2, DiCello, Boris, Morgan, K. Geesey 2

JV score: Pottsville 46-12

Pottsville holds off Lehighton For 10th Win

LEHIGHTON - For three quarters, Pottsville couldn't shake Lehighton.

In the final eight minutes, though, the Crimson Tide hit their stride and pulled away from the Indians for a 49-32 victory Friday night in Schuylkill League Division I boys' basketball action.

Lehighton led 10-8 after the first quarter, but Pottsville went on a 12-5 run to lead 20-15 at halftime and led 29-23 after three periods. In the fourth quarter, Raeff DiCello scored seven of his 10 points to spark a 21-9, game-ending run for the Division I leader.

Pottsville put four players in double figures, with Nicco Heimbaugh leading the way with 12 points. Jacze Carabello-Snowell, Darren Yost and DiCello netted 10 apiece.

Lehighton's Richard Yturrino led all scorers with 13.

POTTSVILLE (49) - Carabello-Snowell 4 2-6 10, Heimbaugh 3 3-4 12, Yost 4 0-0 10, DiCello 4 1-2 10, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Boris 1 2-2 5, Palko 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 8-14 49.

LEHIGHTON (32) - Strauss 2 1-2 5, Lutz 0 0-0 0, Schaeffer 0 0-0 0, Lorenz 3 0-0 6, Yturrino 5 3-9 13, Hunsicker 3 1-2 8, Guyn 0 0-0 0, Rehrig 0 0-0 0, Costenbader 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 5-13 32.

Po (10-1, 8-0);8;12;9;21;-;49

Leh (5-5, 5-3);10;5;8;9;-;32

3-point FGs: Hunsicker, Heimbaugh 3, Yost 2, DiCello, Boris

JV score: Pottsville 52-30

Tide Take Charge Defeats Blue Mountain for Ninth in a Row 


ORWIGSBURG - Pottsville seemed firmly in control of Saturday night's rematch with Blue Mountain in a Schuylkill League Division I boys' basketball game.

But nothing can be taken for granted in this Route 61 rivalry.

The Eagles doubled up Pottsville's total in the final period to turn a comfortable lead into a nail-biter before the Crimson Tide came away with a 51-46 victory to sweep the regular season Division I series.

"We did some things down the stretch that we need to improve on, but we're happy with the outcome," Pottsville head coach Jake Wartella said. "We said it to the kids at halftime. We knew it was going to come down to the end."

That hardly seemed likely midway through the final quarter, when Pottsville took a 47-34 lead with 4:32 remaining on two foul shots by Nico Boris.

The Eagles' Ryan Caulfield answered with a three-point play off an inbounds pass from Bryce Hensley with 4:10 remaining.

Caulfield added four more points down the stretch. But, with Pottsville holding a 48-44 edge in the game's final minute, the Crimson Tide's Jazce Carabello-Snowell blocked Caulfield's layup attempt.

After a foul shot by Nicco Heimbaugh with 26.8 seconds left to put the Tide up 49-44, Blue Mountain's Keenan Cryts scored off Carson Kerstetter's assist, pulling the Eagles within three (49-46).

The Eagles could get no closer, and two foul shots by Pottsville's Raeff DiCello with 15.9 seconds remaining produced the final score.

Blue Mountain was forced into catch-up mode by a first half in which Pottsville held the Eagles to 16 points, while Tide senior guard Darren Yost has 12 of his own toward his team's 26-16 margin.

"They ran that zone and my teammates did a really nice job getting the ball into the corners and skipping it to me, and I was right there," Yost, who finished with 17 points, said.

After Pottsville beat Blue Mountain 60-56 Wednesday at Martz Hall, Yost said the Crimson Tide needed to step up on defense.

"We really focused in on the flex offense that they run. We kind of got stuck there," Yost said of Wednesday's game. "Our help defense was a little bit better this game, but yeah, we just dug deep and tried our hardest.

"That was a difference maker in this effort."

Pottsville scored the game's first seven points on two drives by Yost and a basket by Boris, so Blue Mountain was chasing the Tide for the entire game, even though the Eagles earned the double bonus at the foul line for the final 5:28 of the half.

The Eagles found better footing in the second half when Caulfield tallied 13 of his 17 points in the half and Hensley tallied 12 of his 17 points in the latter two periods.

While Yost was Pottsville's lone double-figure scorer, Carabello-Snowell grabbed six rebounds in the opening period, when the Tide also forced seven turnovers and took a 14-9 lead.

It turned out Pottsville needed nearly every point as it was outscored 16-8 in the fourth. The Eagles, who had three players - Keenan Cryts, Kerstetter and Caulfield - on the court with four fouls each at the end, pushed the Tide to the finish.

That hardly surprised Wartella, even as Pottsville owns at least a two-game lead in the loss column over all of its Division I rivals.

"It was a huge win, but I think any team in Division I can beat any other team on a given night, so the season's far from over. We're going to take it one game at a time and try to get better," he said.


Game Summary

POTTSVILLE (51) - Carabello-Snowell 3 2-6 8, Heimbaugh 2 1-2 7, Yost 6 3-4 17, DiCello 2 3-4 7, McCuller 2 2-2 6, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Boris 1 2-2 4, Palko 1 0-2 2. Totals 17 13-22 51.

BLUE MOUNTAIN (46) - Cryts 1 0-0 2, Campbell 0 0-0 0, S. Devitt 1 0-0 3, Kerstetter 1 1-3 3, Gibson 1 0-0 2, B. Devitt 0 0-0 0, Hensley 4 9-10 17, M. Caulfield 0 0-0 0, Martin 1 0-0 2, R. Caulfield 7 3-4 17. Totals 16 13-17 46.

Potts (9-1, 7-0);14;12;17;8;-;51

BM(6-2, 6-2);9;7;14;16;-;46

3-point FGs: Heimbaugh 2, Yost 2, S. Devitt

JV score: Blue Mountain 51- 46

ChuckCurley on Twitter

Crimson Tide Rolls Over Panthers for 8th Straight Win


Pottsville 58

Panther Valley 32

LANSFORD- Nico Boris led a trio of players in double figures, scoring 14 points as Pottsville remained unbeaten in Schuylkill League Division I play.

Darren Yost added 13 points for the Tide, while Jacze Carabello-Snowell followed with 12.

Chase Weaver led the Panthers with nine points, Steven Hood added eight, while Hood and Austin Hadley both pulled down 11 rebounds. 

POTTSVILLE (58) - Carabello-Snowell 5 0-0 12, Heimbaugh 3 1-2 9, Yost 5 1-2 13, DiCello 1 0-2 2, Bellard 0 0-0 0, McCuller 3 0-1 6, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Boris 5 2-2 14, Williams 0 -00 0, Palko 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Fermaintt 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 4-9 58.

PANTHER VALLEY (32) - Orsulak 0 0-1 0, Hood 0 0-0 0, Krapf 2 0-0 6, Pascoe 2 0-3 6, Hood 4 0-3 8, Hadley 0 0-0 0, Kokinda 1 0-0 3, Weaver 3 2-3 9, Fatzie 0 0-0 0, Berk 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 2-10 32.

Potts (8-1, 6-0);16;11;14;17;-;58

PV (3p-7, 1-5);8;10;7;7;-;32

3-point FGs: Carabello-Snowell 2, Heimbaugh 2, Yost 2, Boris 2, Krapf 2, Pascoe 2, Kokinda, Weaver

JV score: Pottsville 52-30

 Tide upend Eagles in Division I clash

 Jan 27, 2021


POTTSVILLE - With Blue Mountain's leading scorer, Kade Henninger, sidelined because of COVID-19 tracing, Pottsville's boys' basketball team might have thought its Schuylkill League Division I showdown against the Eagles would be easier.

It was anything but that.

Rallying from an early 11-point deficit, the Crimson Tide needed all of four quarters to outlast the Eagles 60-56 at Martz Hall.

With the victory, Pottsville (7-1, 5-0 D-I) took a half-game lead over the Eagles (5-1, 5-1) with a highly awaited rematch scheduled Saturday night at Orwigsburg.

"Just hard work. We picked it up on defense a little bit, but they were outplaying us to start the game," Pottsville head coach Jake Wartella said of his team's comeback. "We needed a wake-up call. Some of the seniors stepped up and made some plays for us."

Those 12th-graders included Nicco Heimbaugh. Averaging four points per game entering Wednesday's makeup of Tuesday's postponement, Heimbaugh scored 16 of his 19 points after halftime.

"Nicco Heimbaugh had his best game of the year. He's a senior. His 3-ball helped us a lot," Wartella said. "Their zone hurt us. When we're not making shots against the zone, it could hurt us."

After the Tide trailed 26-21 at intermission, Heimbaugh found the range in the third period. He canned three treys in a span of 2:36 in the period, including the 3-pointer with 3:14 left that gave Pottsville its first lead, 31-30.

But Blue Mountain took up the challenge and tied the game at 40-40 on Keenan Cryts' two foul shots with 5.8 seconds left in the period.

By then, sophomore Carson Kerstetter had made a strong statement. While Henninger was averaging 13.8 points per game, Kerstetter had tallied just 15 points in the Eagles' first five games of the season.

Wednesday, Kerstetter proved more than ample as a scoring option, breaking away for layups early in the game and then continuing to score. He finished with 21 points, including 9-for-13 from the foul line.

"I was looking at our coaches and players and saying, ‘21 is killing us,' " Wartella said. "He played great, my hat's off to him. He caught us a little off guard with how well we was going to play, but I'm not surprised. He's a great player."

After another tie at 42-42, Pottsville got some separation against the Eagles on back-to-back baskets by Heimbaugh and Darren Yost midway through the fourth.

Though the Eagles pulled within one possession of the lead numerous times, they could never find the tying points.

Blue Mountain trailed 58-55 with 23.6 seconds remaining before Keenan Cryts missed a shot. He was fouled during the offensive rebound, but could convert just one of two foul shots.

Then, after Kerstetter missed two free throws with 11.9 seconds left, the Eagles got possession on a rebound out of play with 5.4 seconds remaining. The Eagles' Bryce Hensley missed an open 3-pointer, and Yost got the rebound and was fouled. He sank two free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining to complete his 15-point game.

Jazce Carabello-Snowell added 12 points for the Crimson Tide.

Hensley contributed 16 points and a a game-best 13 rebounds for the Eagles. Cryts had 12 points before fouling out late in the game.

Pottsville's Mike Sukeena suffered a left ankle injury during the first period and did not return, but the Tide still found a way to win the first game of two this week against the Eagles.

Wartella knows another stiff challenge awaits his Tide.

"They outhustled us. They got rebounds. They got loose balls," he said. "As you can see, every time Blue Mountain and Pottsville play, it's going to be a close game. The little things are going to win it."

Contact the writer: ccurley@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6019; @ChuckCurley on Twitter

 Game Summary

BLUE MOUNTAIN (56) - Cryts 3 6-8 12, Campbell 0 0-0 0, S. Devitt 1 0-0 2, Kerstetter 6 9-13 21, Gibson 0 2-2 2, B. Devitt 0 1-2 1, Hensley 6 4-6 16, M. Caulfield 0 0-0 0, Martin 0 0-0 0, R. Caulfield 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 22-31 56.

POTTSVILLE (60) - Carabello-Snowell 5 1-4 12, Heimbaugh 6 2-2 19, Yost 4 6-7 15, DiCello 4 0-1 8, McCuller 1 0-0 2, Fenstermacher 1 0-0 2, Sukeena 0 0-0 0, Boris 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 9-14 60.

BM (5-1, 5-1);15;11;14;16;-;56

Potts (7-1, 5-0);8;13;19;20;-;60

3-point FGs: Carabello-Snowell, Heimbaugh 5, Yost

JV score: Pottsville 38-34

 Tide shoot down Cougars

  • By DAVE SEAMON staff writer
  • Jan 24, 2021 Updated 10 hrs ago

HAZLE TWP. - Pottsville's tried-and-true formula for basketball success is simple, really.

Play tough and at times suffocating man-to-man defense, communicate, get in passing lanes, contest every shot, pounce on opponents' mistakes and rebound with reckless abandon.

On offense, the Crimson Tide find the open man, they make the extra pass so good shots become better ones, they make those shots and they crash the boards with the same ferocity that they show on the defensive end.

The Tide hustle from the opening tap until the final buzzer.

They buy in to all of the above.

And, they win.

With only one starter standing taller than 6 feet, the perennial Schuylkill League power had all facets of its game in working order in a not-as-close-at-it-looks 60-45 non-league victory over host Hazleton Area on Saturday night.

"They're impressive, the way they play," Cougars head coach Tim Barletta said, praising the Tide. "They play aggressive defense, they're fundamentally sound on defense and ... on offense. They have a good thing going down in Pottsville."

Most impressive to Barletta - at least on this night - was the Tide's lethal perimeter shooting, as five different players accounted for at least one 3-pointer, most resulting from unselfish teammates just as content dishing off an assist as making a field goal.

"We focus on that each day at practice," Jake Wartella, Pottsville's first-year head coach, said. "We call it ‘One more' and we always want to find the open shooter. I was really impressed with our ball movement tonight and it resulted in a lot of open shots."

So many that Pottsville's Jazce Carabello-Snowell scored a game-high 20 points, including three triples; Mike Sukeena added 12 points with two of his four baskets coming from beyond the arc; and Nicco Heimbaugh drained three 3-pointers for nine points.

"We built this game up all week," Wartella said. "We knew it was going to be a tough place to play, we knew they're a big school and we knew it was going to be a measuring mark for us."

The Tide more than measured up to the Hazleton Area challenge, trailing only once (2-0) all game on the way to their sixth straight win since a season-opening loss to Wilson West Lawn.

"Pottsville outplayed us ... offensively, defensively. They were more physical than us, on the boards, everywhere," Barletta said. "They just executed a lot better on offense than we did."

After Angel Cruz's driving deuce got the Cougars (2-1) off to a fast start, Pottsville strung together seven straight points and 10 of the next 12 to set the tone for the rest of the night. Heimbaugh sandwiched two triples around Darren Yost's fast-break layup and a Carabello-Snowell jump hook in the lane to account for the Tide's points.

The Cougars however, got off the deck with Jonathan Joseph's first of his three triples and Brett Antolick's old-fashioned three-point play to close the gap to 14-10, before Nico Boris found a cutting Sukeena for a layup and Yost again scored from in close to make it 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.

"We don't have an excuse for getting out-hustled at times," Barletta said after splitting two games in less than 24 hours. "But we had some guys who were tired. That's where us not practicing and our conditioning is hurting us."

Hazleton Area, which opened its season just three days earlier, did show some more life to begin the second period, however. Matthew Cusatis wrapped a triple and layup around a Cruz bucket and Chris Garcia knocked down a triple from deep in the corner to get the Cougars within 21-20.

That's when Carabello-Snowell and the Pottsville defense teamed to turn the Tide (pun intended) in Pottsville's favor. The 6-foot-3 junior answered Garcia with his own 3-pointer and later added two more baskets, while Pottsville's hounding "D" kept Hazleton Area off the scoreboard for the final 5:22 of the quarter to take a 30-20 halftime lead.

The Cougars never got closer than seven points the rest of the way. A Boris three put the Tide up by double digits from the 4:40 mark of the third quarter on.

Before long, both coaches emptied their benches.

"We're happy with the way we came here and took care of business," Wartella said. "It was a true team effort."

One that Barletta admired and acknowledged that his Cougars are still working toward, as they point toward a first-time matchup with District 3's Cumberland Valley in another home non-conference game Wednesday.

"Everybody's going to say, ‘Oh your offense looks bad,' " he said. "Well, we know. We need a lot of work. From Nov. 20 to now, we've had 11 practices and now we have played two games. You don't practice, you don't scrimmage and you play only two games and, when you come up against a team like Pottsville and other ones we're going to face, you're going to have to be better on offense. We know we're not anywhere where we need to be."

Or where Pottsville is now.

Contact the writer: dseamon@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3595; @SeamonSaysSport on Twitter

BOYS' BASKETBALL: Tide coast past Hazleton Area

  • Jan 23, 2021 Updated 15 hrs ago

HAZLETON - A fast start, led by a pair of 3-pointers from Nicco Heimbaugh, lifted Pottsville's boys' basketball team to a non-league victory over Hazleton Area Saturday night.

Armed with the lead, Pottsville took a 60-45 victory over the Mountaineers for the Crimson Tide's sixth win in seven games so far this season.

Heimbaugh's shots led to an 18-10 edge after the first eight minutes and Pottsville pulled to an eventual 17-point edge after three periods.

Jazce Carabello-Snowell scored 20 points to pace the Tide's victory. Mike Sukeena added 12. Heimbaugh added a third trey to close with nine points as Pottsville sank 10 3-pointers in the game.

Angel Cruz tallied 10 points for Hazleton Area while two other players had nine each.

POTTSVILLE (60) - Carabello-Snowell 8 1-3 20, Heimbaugh 3 0-0 9, Yost 3 0-0 7, DiCello 1 0-0 2, McCuller 0 1-2 1, Fenstermacher 1 0-0 2, Sukeena 4 2-2 12, Boris 3 0-0 7, Palko 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 4-7 60.

HAZLETON AREA (45) - Mata 0 0-0 0, Joseph 3 0-0 9, Cusatis 2 0-0 5, Torre 0 0-2 0, Gennaro 1 3-4 5, Antolick 3 2-3 9, Garcia 1 1-2 4, Hebel 0 1-2 1, Esprillat 0 0-0 0, Rodriguez 1 0-0 2, Cruz 3 4-5 10. Totals 14 11-16 45.

Potts (6-1);18;12;17;13;-;60

HA (2-1);10;10;10;15;-;45

3-point FGs: Carabello-Snowell 3, Heimbaugh 3, Yost, Sukeena 2, Boris, Joseph 3, Cusatis, Antolick, Garcia

JV score: Pottsville 49-40

Tide Routs Tamaqua For 5th Straight
Pottsville: Jazce Carabello-Snowell led the way and Pottsville remained undefeated in SAchuylkill League Division 1 play with a 61-30 victory over Tamaqua on MOnday at Martz Hall.
Carabello-Snowell scored a game high 15 points as 10 Tide players broke into the scoring column in the victory over the Blue Raiders. Raeff Dicello was next for Pottsville with 14 points, followed by Darren Yost with 9 points.
Pottsville led only 15-13 after the first quarter, but a 17-1, second quarter run put the Tide firmly in control. Nathan Gregoire paced Tamaqua with eight points.
Tamaqua (30): Lewis 1 0-0 3, Hoffman 1 0-1 2, Verta 1 2-4 4, Hollenbach 0 0-0 0, Davis 3 0-0 7, Sherry 2 1-4 6, Andrews 0 0-0 0, Gregoire 2 2-2 8, Fannock 0 0-0 0, Hope 0 0-1 0, Totals: 10 5-12 30

Pottsville (61): Carabello-Snowell 7 1-1 15, Heimbaugh 2 0-0 6, Yost 1 6-6 9, Bellard 0 1-2 1, McCuller 1 0-0 2, Fenstermacher 1 0-0 3, Sukeena 3 0-0 6, Boris 0 0-0 0, Palko 0 2-2 2, Davis 0 0-0 0, Fermaintt 0 0-0 0, Williamns 1 0-0 3, Dicello 5 1-2 14 
                       Totals: 21 11-13 61
Tamaqua (0-5, 0-4)   13   1   9   7    30
Pottsville (5-1, 4-0)   15  17  14 15   61 
3 Point FGS: Gregoire 2, Sherry, Davis,Lewis, Dicello 3, Heimbaugh 2, Yost, Fenstermacher, Williams
JV Score: Pottsville 42-27 

Pottsville Wins Fourth Straight over Jim Thorpe

Jazce Carbella-Snowell, Raeff Dicello and Mike Sukeena scored 12 points apiece to lead Pottsville over Jim Thorpe 50-36 on Thursday in Schuylkill League Divison 1 Boys basketball action.

AS, usual, the Crimson Tide clamped down on defense, leading 15-4 after the first quarter and 24-12 at halftime. Chris Condly and Derryl Fisher led Jim Thorpe with nine points apiece.


Pottsville (50)  Carbello-Snowell 6 0-0 12, Heimbaugh 0 0-0 0, Yost 2 2-3 7, Dicello 3 5-6 12, McCuller 1 0-0 2, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Sukeena 4 0-0 12, Boris 2 0-0 5, Fermaintt 0 0-0 0 TOTALS: 18 7-10 50

Jim Thorpe (36) Gillar 0 0-0 0, Condly 4 1-2 9, McHugh 0 0-0 0, Richards 0 0-0 0, Warner 1 0-0 3, Hurley 2 0-0 4, Fisher 3 1-2 9, Ivey 3 0-2 7, Marykwas 0 0-0 0   Totals 13 2-6 36 


Pottsville (4-1, 3-0)   15   9   13   13 ---  50

Jim Thorpe (0-4, 0-3)  4    8    5    19 ---  36

3-Points FG's: Sukeena 4, Yost, Dicello, Boris, Hurley 2, Fisher 2, Ivey, Warner


JV Score: Pottsville 51 - 28 


Crimson Tide Wins Three In A Row 

Pottsville 50

Lehighton 23

POTTSVILLE - Darren Yost drained three 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half as the Crimson Tide cruised to a Division I win over the Indians.

Jazce Carabello-Snowell scored a game-high 14 points for Pottsville, which used a 19-9, second-quarter run to pull away and build a 30-16 halftime cushion.

Richard Yturrino led Lehighton with eight points.

LEHIGHTON (23) - Strauss 0 1-4 1, Hoffman 0 0-0 0, Lorenz 2 0-0 4, Yturrino 2 4-8 8, Hunsicker 1 1-2 3, Marchessault 0 0-0 0, Guyn 2 2-3 7, Rehrig 0 0-0 0, Blauch 0 0-0 0, Schatz 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 8-17 23.

POTTSVILLE (50) - Carabello-Snowell 7 0-0 14, Heimbaugh 1 0-0 3, Yost 4 2-2 13, McCuller 2 0-0 4, Fenstermacher 3 0-0 7, Sukeena 3 0-0 8, Boris 0 1-2 1, Palko 0 0-1 0, Davis 0 0-0 0, Fermaintt 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 3-5 50.

Lehigh (1-1, 1-1);7;9;5;2;-;23

Potts (3-1, 2-0);11;19;11;9;-;50

3-point FGs: Guyn, Heimbaugh, Yost 3, Fenstermacher, Sukeena 2

JV score: Pottsville 55-9

Crimson Tide Rolls over NW Lehigh


POTTSVILLE - Cranking up its trademark defense, Pottsville shut down Northwestern Lehigh 46-33 on Saturday night in non-league boys' basketball action.

The Crimson Tide held the Tigers to two points in the first quarter and led 17-10 at halftime.

Jaczce Carabello-Snowell and Mike Sukeena scored 13 points apiece to lead Pottsville, which extended its advantage to 35-22 after three quarters.

As a team, the Tide connected on seven 3-pointers.

NORTHWESTERN LEHIGH (33) - Fitch 3 0-0 9, Christopher 2 1-2 5, Holmes1 0-2 2, Henry 1 0-0 2, Witkowski 4 0-0 9, Stitzel 1 0-2 2, Lozokus 0 0-2 0, Garrido 1 2-2 4. Totals 13 3-10 33.

POTTSVILLE (46) - Carabello-Snowell 6 0-0 13, Heimbaugh 1 0-3 3, Yost 1 1-2 3, DiCello 3 0-0 7, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Sukeena 5 0-0 13, McCuller 1 0-0 2, Boris 2 0-0 5. Totals 19 1-5 46.

NW Lehigh (0-1);2;8;12;11;-;33

Potts (2-1);5;12;18;11;-;46

3-point FGs: Fitch 3, Witkowski, Sukeena 3, Carabello-Snowell, Heimbaugh, DiCello, Boris

JV score: Pottsville 47-32

Tide Rolls Over Spartans

Pottsville 64

North Schuylkill 29

POTTSVILLE - Jazce Carabello-Snowell's 18-point performance led all scorers as Pottsville won a Division I game against North Schuylkill.

The Crimson Tide's Raeff DiCello scored 12 points and Nico Boris added 10.

Jack Flynn and Gavin Todd recorded nine points apiece for the Spartans.

NORTH SCHUYLKILL (29) - Brown 0 2-2 2, Flynn 3 1-6 9, Todd 4 1-2 9, Flail 0 1-2 1, Scott 2 0-0 4, Fisher 2 0-0 4, Wallace 0 0-0 0, Groody 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Markosky 0 0-0 0, Conti 0 0-0 0, Zulkowski 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 5-10 29.

POTTSVILLE (64) - Carabello-Snowell 8 0-1 18, Heimbaugh 1 2-4 5, Yost 2 1-2 5, DiCello 4 4-6 12, Bellard 1 0-0 2, Fenstermacher 2 0-0 4, Sukeena 1 0-0 2, Boris 4 0-0 10, Palko 2 0-2 4, Fermaintt 1 0-0 2, McCuller 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 7-15 64.

NS (0-1, 0-1);3;6;14;6;-;29

Pott (1-1, 1-0);9;21;12;22;-;64

3-point FGs: Flynn 2, Carabello-Snowell 2, Boris 2, Heimbaugh

JV score: Pottsville 48-30

Pottsville - Wilson Game

JV Game is First than Varsity


The lower banks of bleachers on both sides of the Martz Hall floor were pushed all the way back Friday night.

Players from both teams were seated, not side-by-side in a tight row as they usually are, but instead, in three staggered rows with chairs widely spaced.

On the floor, the players wore masks. Officials, too, along with the coaches and every one of the handful of fans lucky enough to be there ... they were all masked up.

The biggest thing, however?

They played basketball.

For one night, the 2020-21 basketball season came to life. It didn't exactly look or feel normal, but then, for the past nine months or so, what has?

Pottsville's boys' basketball team, the three-time defending Schuylkill League champion, opened what is already a most unusual season at home Friday night against Wilson West Lawn of the Berks League.

The game came one day after Gov. Tom Wolf decreed that all high school sports would be paused from Dec. 12 until Jan. 4 in an effort to slow the quickly rising number of COVID-19 cases across the state.

Even with that three-week period set, nobody knows for certain if the season will resume at that point. Positive COVID cases could continue to soar and the season could go the way of spring sports during the last school year and be canceled completely.

Nobody wants that, but it's a reality all must face.

That's why it was so important to the players and coaches to take the court Friday night.

The Crimson Tide fell 58-37 to a very good Wilson team led by NCAA Division I commit Stevie Mitchell.

That result, however, seemed almost secondary to the game even being played at all. The possibility that it could be an entire season compressed into 32 minutes weighed heavily on the minds of both players and coaches.

"It meant a lot," said first-year Pottsville coach Jake Wartella, himself a former standout Crimson Tide athlete. "Our kids were very excited to play tonight.

"They were really down yesterday (Thursday) when the news came out. They were excited tonight. They're happy and we're hoping it's three weeks and we can come back right after that."

Crimson Tide junior Raeff DiCello is one of several players who were members of the Pottsville football team in the fall. He experienced two COVID-related pauses that interrupted Pottsville's gridiron season and knows nothing is guaranteed. That's one of the reasons Friday night's non-league contest was important to him.

"It was great to get this first game in just because you never know what's going to come," said DiCello, who scored six points and grabbed two rebounds Friday night. "If this is the only game that we get to play this year, it was fun that I got to play it with all the kids I've been playing basketball with since I was in seventh grade."

DiCello is fortunate in that should the worst case scenario happen, at least from a basketball perspective, and the season ends up being just that one game, he still has a senior year to look forward to.

His senior teammates are not so fortunate during this season of the unknown.

"It means the world to us, even though it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," said Nico Boris, one of four seniors on the Tide roster and one of two, along with Nicco Heimbaugh, among the starting five. "We were still able to play.

"We were able to get one in before we got shut down."

Both players said they personally, and the entire team for that matter, took it hard Thursday when they learned of the governor's forced shutdown.

"I was let down at first, especially coming back from football season," DiCello said. "We worked so hard for this, so it was a bummer hearing about that."

During the shutdown, games and scrimmages will not take place, organized practices will not be allowed. Should things go well and the hopeful restart becomes a reality, every team and every league will need to make scheduling adjustments. Postseasons - league and PIAA - will likely be compressed.

Thursday, Dec. 17, was supposed to be the opening night for Schuylkill League play for the boys with a full round of eight games on the slate. That obviously won't happen. Another round was slated for Dec. 21, and those games will need to be rescheduled, too. Falling by the wayside most likely are all-non-league games and holiday tournaments that were scheduled during that period.

While Friday was a chance to savor something special, the players hope it's not the last time they step foot on the Martz Hall floor this season.

"It's my senior year, it's our opportunity," Boris said. "We've been watching this program since we were young. Now it's our turn to evolve and get a championship. That may be taken away from us. I'll be watching closely (to see what happens)."

Contact the writer: croth@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6025

Photo By Pottsville Republican

Photo By Pottsville Republican

Photo By Pottsville Republican

Photo By Pottsville Republican

Crimson Tide Falls To Wilson


POTTSVILLE - First-year Pottsville head coach Jake Wartella knew what he was up against Friday night when the Crimson Tide opened their season at Martz Hall against Wilson (West Lawn).

The Bulldogs are good.

They're not big, but they're quick, they're outright fast and they have one of the best players in the eastern half of the state in 6-2 senior guard Stevie Mitchell.

Against the Tide, the Marquette commit showed his stuff, torching the nets for a game-high 26 points, leading his team with six rebounds, making five steals and turning three of them into thunderous dunks on the other end of the court as Wilson rolled to a 58-37 victory.

"He was good," Wartella said. "We knew he was good.

"He was a really big difference maker on defense. He got his hands on everything."

Wilson, however, proved to be more than just Mitchell.

The Bulldogs are deep. They went 11 deep, with eight players scoring and they made things tough on Pottsville on the other end of the court.

"They (Wilson) have a great team and they're going to have a great year," Wartella said. "We struggled with their pressure.

"We have to learn from that and get better."

The Bulldogs forced Pottsville into 16 turnovers, while committing only seven and holding a slim 28-24 advantage on the boards.

Nobody notched double-digit scoring for Pottsville.

Jazce Carabello-Snowell played the sixth-man role well, scoring seven points and pulling down a game-high eight rebounds. Amari Dunn also came off the bench to score seven, with most of them coming late in the game.

Among the starting five, Darren Yost and Raeff DiCello were the scoring leaders with six each.

Wilson took control early and never really let up, despite Pottsville working for an 11-8 scoring edge in the second quarter.

Mitchell scored the game's first six points as the Bulldogs rolled out to an 18-1 lead over the game's first seven minutes.

The closest the Tide got from that point on was within 12 points, once early in the second quarter, at the halftime break and again early in the third quarter when it was 30-18.

At that point, Mitchell nailed one of his two 3-pointers on the night to start a 13-4 run that put the game out of reach for good.

Like every other team in the state, Pottsville and Wilson will now take a forced break as schools follow the ruling of Gov. Tom Wolf in his efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seasons will be on hold until Jan. 4 with teams needing to revamp schedules to account for the time off.

Contact the writer: croth@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6025

Photo By Pottsville Republican

Game Summary

WILSON (58) - Strobel 3 1-1 7, Mitchell 10 4-5 26, Huffman 1 1-2 4, Vazquez 2 2-2 7, Wah 0 0-0 0, Fuller 0 0-0 0, Young 2 0-0 5, Jones 1 0-0 2, Holman 2 0-2 4, Odiale 1 1-2 3. Totals 22 9-14 58.

POTTSVILLE (37) - Heimbaugh 0 2-2 2, Yost 2 0-1 6, DiCello 2 1-1 6, Sukeena 2 0-0 5, Boris 1 0-0 2, Snowell 4 1-2 9, Bellard 0 0-0 0, Dunn 2 3-4 7, Fenstermacher 0 0-0 0, Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 7-10 37.

Wilson (1-0);20;8;18;12;-;58

Potts (0-1);5;11;10;11;-;37

3-point FGs: Mitchell 2, Huffman, Vazquez, Young, Yost 2, Heimbaugh, DiCello, Sukeena

JV score: Wilson 47-45


Photo By Pottsville Republican

Photo By Pottsville Republican

New Tide Coach

Pottsville hires boys' basketball coach - Jake Wartella

  • Jul 21, 2020 Updated 12 hrs ago 

POTTSVILLE - A familiar name and face will lead the Pottsville Area High School boys' basketball program next season.

From left, Jake Wartella, Tyler Wilson and David Wilson, all of Pottsville With a unanimous vote, the Pottsville Area School Board hired Jake Wartella as its varsity boys' basketball head coach during Tuesday night's meeting. Wartella, a 2006 Pottsville Area graduate, was a multiple-sport standout for the Crimson Tide and has served as an assistant coach in the Pottsville football and boys' basketball programs.

He replaces Dave Mullaney, who submitted his resignation to the Pottsville Area School Board last month, ending a 13-year tenure with the Crimson Tide that is among the best the Schuylkill League boys' circuit has ever seen.

Mullaney compiled a 282-75 record (.790 winning percentage) at Pottsville that included the last 11 Schuylkill League Division I titles, nine overall Schuylkill League crowns, four District 11 championships and nine trips to the PIAA playoffs.

This past season, Pottsville went 22-6, beat Tamaqua in the Schuylkill League finals, was the District 11 Class 5A runner-up and reached the second round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs before falling to West Chester East on a buzzer-beater.

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