Nick Schlitzer's basketball idol is Gerry McNamara.
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.
his performance, Schlitzer is The Republican-Herald All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.