2011 Season Stats



Crimson Tide's Schlitzer repeats as top player

Courtesy of Republican Herald: David McKeown
Nick Schlitzer averaged more than 20 points per game for Schuylkill League champion Pottsville.
Pottsville has had a long history of success in boys basketball.

In the 1980s Chris Nabholz dominated courts in the Lower Anthracite Region, leading the Crimson Tide to glory on the district level, and held the program's career points record for more than two decades. A tremendous multi-sport athlete, baseball was Nabholz's main game and he went on to a career in the majors.

Fast-forward 25 years and Pottsville continues to be a force in the Region.

After this season, the Crimson Tide finished a run that included three trips to the PIAA Tournament; championship, runner-up and third-place finishes in District 11; and two consecutive Schuylkill League championships.

In the middle of it all was Nick Schlitzer. The 6-5 senior, the Reading Eagle All-Anthracite Boys Basketball Player of the Year for a second consecutive season, finished his career with 1,884 points, passing Nabholz in January.

This winter, he again averaged more than 20 points per game and took pride in the fact that he also had lofty rebounding and assist totals, as well.

In fact, he couldn't go long without mentioning a teammate when reviewing his playing career.

He said he was especially pleased with making states after the program moved up to Class AAAA this year.

"I'm proud," Schlitzer said after the Tide was eliminated by Neshaminy in the first round of states. "We did a lot with this group."

Bobby Schappell and Casey Guers also will graduate and they became better players with Schlitzer, who in turn, became a better player because of them.

The rest of the team worked to be just like them.

"Nick and Bobby have meant everything to the program," Tide coach Dave Mullaney said. "Those two guys are the biggest reasons for all of our wins. They're amazing kids; they're perfectly coachable.

"We have 17 other kids that try to be just like them. That turned our program around."

Schlitzer will continue his playing career at Division II Philadelphia University under Hall-of-Fame coach Herb Magee.

Rising high

Nick Schlitzer's basketball idol is Gerry McNamara.

Schlitzer was in third grade when he went to Martz Hall in March 2002 to see McNamara, then a senior at Bishop Hannan, score 55 points during a PIAA Class AA semifinal state playoff game against Trinity.

"It was just unbelievable," Schlitzer said. "After that, I followed his career the whole way up."

Though Schlitzer never scored that many points in a game during his four years at Pottsville, he's certainly done his best to emulate McNamara, who went on to Syracuse University and helped the Orange win a national title in 2003.

When it comes to scoring points in the Schuylkill League, Schlitzer has had no equal the past two years. An elite player entering this season, Schlitzer went to new heights in 2010-11.

For his performance, Schlitzer is The Republican-Herald All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

This past year, Schlitzer led the league in scoring with 589 points, a 21.0 average per game, and became the Crimson Tide's all-time leading boys' scorer, finishing with 1,884 career points. He helped lead Pottsville to a 25-3 record, a second straight Schuylkill League championship and a trip to the PIAA Class AAAA state playoffs, the Tide's third consecutive state playoff appearance.

Coach of the Year honors go to Pine Grove's David Archer.

In two years, the energetic Archer has turned the Cardinals around. Pine Grove was 10-36 in the two years before Archer arrived, but the Cards have gone 35-17 since then, including a 23-6 record this season.

Pine Grove reached the Schuylkill League championship game for the first time since 2004, played for its first District 11 Class AA title since 2004 and reached the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2005. Once there, the Cardinals beat West Catholic 45-44 and Hughesville 57-44 before bowing out to Communications Tech 47-40 in the quarterfinals.

Schlitzer the complete player

Schlitzer is a relentless worker.

He normally shows up 30-45 minutes before practice and stays 15-30 minutes after to work on shooting. Tide coach Dave Mullaney estimates Schlitzer will take around 400 shots between pre- and post-practice sessions, plus the shooting he gets in during practice itself.

All that work made Schlitzer a complete offensive player. It's also given him the confidence to put the ball in the hoop despite knowing night in and night out he would be the focus of opposing defenses.

"You just have to go out and figure out where you can be successful against a defense, whether that's in transition, in the half court, breaking down guys off the dribble, coming off screens," Schlitzer said. "It's kind of something you have to figure out during the game and then try to exploit it."

This past season, Schlitzer had 198 field goals, including 48 3-pointers, and was 145-of-184 (79 percent) from the foul line. He reached double figures in 27 of the Tide's 28 games, scored 20 or more points in 15 games, and 30 or more in four, including a career-high 35 against Emmaus on Feb. 12 at Martz Hall.

But just scoring points isn't what drives Schlitzer. He's wanted to become the best player he could be so the Tide could win. He really didn't have any individual goals entering the season, instead focusing on team pursuits.

"First of all we wanted to win leagues and get back into the state playoffs in Quad-A," Schlitzer said. "Those were our two goals the whole year and we got to them."

And what did becoming Pottville's all-time leading boys' scorer mean to him?

"It wasn't as much as important as getting there," Schlitzer said. "It was neat looking back because it was a team accomplishment just with all Coach did to help me get there. You look at all my teammates and how unselfish they were and how they helped get there is what makes it so special."

In his final game at Martz Hall, Schlitzer scored 24 points and hit the game-clinching free throw in Pottsville's 51-49 victory over Pine Grove to win the Schuylkill League title.

But it was in the district playoffs where Schlitzer and the Tide left their mark.

He scored 27 as Pottsville knocked off Nazareth 60-56 in the quarterfinals. After losing to Liberty in the semis, Schlitzer poured in 21 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Tide came from behind to down top-seeded Pocono Mountain West 59-53 in overtime in the consolation game to qualify for states.

Schlitzer, who is headed to Philadelphia University to play for Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee, will certainly be remembered for his scoring ability. However, he hopes his legacy is not only continuing a winning tradition for the Tide but also setting it up for future success.

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