Trojan Basketball

TROJAN BASKETBALL

1/20/2019
Kreitzer leaving his mark on Nanticoke Area
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice
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He is one of the league’s most electrifying players, a record-breaking point guard who’s orchestrated some of the greatest wins at a school rich in basketball history.

But Nate Kreitzer’s career at Nanticoke Area started with the humblest of beginnings.

“You feel like you’re not supposed to be there at first,” Kreitzer recalled of his first few practices freshman year. “These guys are like grown men, you feel like. And I’m there at 5-foot-6, trying to get a shot up — and it’s getting blocked off the wall.”

With varsity minutes hard to come by, Kreitzer filled his role on Nanticoke Area’s scout team.

“During the week, they would be mimicking the opponent and he would be the opponent’s best guard,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “He would be the guy who shot the most shots.”

Kreitzer kept working and improving, eventually earning some varsity playing time.

During one practice, Kreitzer made four 3-pointers in a row, unfazed by the 6-footers standing on the perimeter and attempting to defend him.

“Our defense would be geared to stop him,” Beggs said. “So when we weren’t able to stop him, then we had to address that with our varsity.

“And we also knew he had something special. This young freshman could play against our best players at that time.”

Beggs’ notion that Kreitzer was “something special” proved true with Kreitzer becoming one of the best basketball players ever at Nanticoke Area.

“What I love about coaching him is our staff — and me, personally — coach him harder than anybody else. We coach him harder than anybody we ever have,” Beggs said. “We put pressure on him to lead. We coach him tough. We push him, and he embraces it.”

Kreitzer first played basketball at age four and he’s loved it ever since.

Eric Spencer coached him up in the local Biddy Basketball League.

Kreitzer elevated his game as he got older, working with coaches like John Bucci and Bill Callahan at the AAU level.

“Every day, I was either outside playing basketball or shooting in the gym or going to AAU practice,’ Kreitzer said.

It helped, too, that Kreitzer grew up in the basketball-loving community of Nanticoke Area.

The school’s tradition is not lost on Kreitzer, who touted past Trojan greats like Paul Guffrovich, the 2,000-point scorer who played at Wichita State.

“When I was in Biddy Basketball, I remember going to Biddy Night and seeing the guys on the team and they were signing my shirt,” Kreitzer said. “I always wanted to be the guy signing someone else’s shirt, as if I was a professional.”

After barely playing as a freshman, Kreitzer started on varsity as a sophomore. He stepped into a leadership role toward the end of the season.

Kreitzer engineered the come-from-behind stunner against District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic, which was Nanticoke Area’s first state playoff game since 2003.

Nanticoke Area rallied from 12 points down to win 58-56 with Kreitzer scoring a team-high 15 points. He also sealed the win with clutch takeaways and free throws in the final minutes.

“We felt like we were going to win no matter what,” Kreitzer recalled. “We did whatever it took.”

Nanticoke Area won two more PIAA Class 4A playoff games before losing in the semifinals to eventual state champion Imhotep Charter.

The Trojans returned to the hardwood in 2017-18 and ran away with the WVC Division 2 league title — an amazing accomplishment considering the team had no seniors — before earning another berth in the state tournament.

On an individual level, Kreitzer capped the season with a third-team selection to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ All-State team.

Kreitzer sees similarities between last season and this season, which is the final hurrah for senior starters and longtime teammates Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski.

“Right now, we’re still working to be the best team that we could be,” Kreitzer said. “But, like last year, we started off a little slow and then we hit that stride where we were playing incredible. I think we’re about to hit that stride right now, so it’s really good for the team to get some of those challenges in the beginning of the season.”

Misericordia, Wilkes, Susquehanna and King’s are among the schools recruiting the 5-foot-9 Kreitzer — the son of Brian and Lori Kreitzer with a brother Aaron and sister Ella — who wants to study business.

Before taking that next step, though, Kreitzer wants to win another league title and he wants to play for a district championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Kreitzer is averaging 19.9 points per game with 46 3s for Nanticoke Area (11-3).

Kreitzer, who mentions Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry as one of his favorite players, holds Nanticoke Area’s single-game record with 10 3s he hit earlier this season at Coughlin. Kreitzer previously set the record with nine 3s in a game as a junior.

Kreitzer is also the No. 1 3-point shooter in Nanticoke Area history with 199 3s in his career, including the unforgettable half-court heave he shot with 0.4 seconds left to force overtime at home last season against Tunkhannock.

The 3-point record had been held by Beggs, who made 192.

“We like to think that we have a good shooting program here. We get guys better through their career,” Beggs said. “But you can’t teach a guy like that anything. We just try to tweak things and try to give him confidence. We try to put him in good position and set some plays up for him. But his shooting is natural. For him to beat the record — and he’s going to beat the record by a bunch — is something great.”

SIGNATURE MOMENTS
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March 11, 2017: Kreitzer scores 15 points and makes four free throws in the final seconds of Nanticoke Area’s 58-56 upset win against Becahi in the state tournament

Jan. 27, 2018: Kreitzer sets a Nanticoke Area single-game record with nine 3-pointers in a win against Coughlin

Feb. 13, 2018: Kreitzer makes an unforgettable halfcourt 3 at the buzzer — video on Twitter of the shot has 55,000 views — to force overtime against Tunkhannock

Feb. 27, 2018: Nanticoke Area erases a 20-point deficit to beat Wyoming Area for a state playoff berth, as Kreitzer leads the way with 25 points and three steals

Dec. 20, 2018: Kreitzer breaks his own school record with 10 3s in a win against Coughlin, which also featured him scoring his 1,000th career point

1/16/2019
FOLLOW THE FORMULA: Trojans’ passing, defense leads to rivalry win
mbufano@citizensvoice.com

Nanticoke Area’s recipe for success is nothing unusual.

“Nanticoke plays its best basketball,” Trojans head coach John Beggs said, “when we’re sharing the basketball, and when we’re committed on the defensive end.”

Easier said than done. However, Nanticoke Area did put it all together Tuesday night.

Nate Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Colby Butczynski each scored in double-figures for a pass-happy offense, while the Trojans’ defense held Hanover Area to a season-low point total.

The Trojans walked out of their rival’s gym with a 50-34 win in Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball.

“The excitement in the locker room, I can’t even describe it,” said Krupinski, a senior who tallied 12 points and six rebounds. “The intensity, the way we warmed up, getting ready for this game and the way we prepared — it was really good. With the atmosphere and the crowd, the two cheering sections going back and forth, this is what high school basketball is all about.”

Nanticoke Area improved to 10-3 (5-3 WVC), looking more and more like the team that returned its entire lineup from last year’s 20-win season.

The Trojans’ main objective on defense Tuesday was limiting Hanover Area’s top scorer, junior Asad Whitehead, who’s averaging 17 points per game.

Whitehead still scored 14, but he was held to only four field goals.

“To hold them to 34 points was key,” Beggs said. “Our offense was hit and miss, but we committed to defense and that’s why we pulled out the victory.”

Hanover Area matched Nanticoke Area’s defensive intensity early, using a man defense to keep Kreitzer in check.

While Kreitzer, an all-state point guard, scored only two points in the first quarter, Krupinski had six in the first frame to give Nanticoke Area a 10-8 lead after one quarter.

The Trojans created some breathing room with a 14-1 run into the second quarter, which put them ahead 22-9.

Nanticoke Area led 24-15 at halftime, and never allowed Hanover Area back into the game, opening the third quarter by making its first three shots — a Butczynski layup followed by back-to-back Krupinski scores in the paint.

From that point forward, Nanticoke Area used long possessions to create open looks with nonstop passes and few turnovers.

“We didn’t want to stall, but we didn’t want to force anything,” Krupinski said. “We had the lead ... so we didn’t want to force anything.”

Nanticoke Area sealed the win early in the fourth quarter when Kreitzer really got going, hitting three early layups; one layup was an and-one where he made the shot despite being hit in the hand, another came on a fast-break after he stole the ball at halfcourt.

Kreitzer was the Trojans’ leading scorer with 14 points. Butczynski added 11, while sophomore Jake Krupinski scored nine with a game-high nine rebounds.

“Nanticoke-Hanover, huge rivalry,” Beggs said. “The last few games have been back and forth. We committed to defense today and that’s why we won this game.”

After Whitehead, Justin Kopko was Hanover Area’s (6-7, 4-3 WVC) No. 2 scorer with six points. The Penn State football recruit was honored before tipoff for the Hawkeyes’ senior night.

12/24/2018
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK:
Tony Maluso – Citizens Voice

Nate Kreitzer, Nanticoke Area
Nate Kreitzer

Nanticoke Area’s Nate Kreitzer had a career night on Thursday against Coughlin. Kreitzer set a school record making 10 3-pointers, part of a 43-point game. Over the course of the game, Kreitzer scored his 1,000th career point. He recently talked about that night and his team’s season.

Q: Being so close to 1,000 points coming into the season, how much was it on your mind?
A: I was waiting for it come but I didn’t want to rush it. I didn’t want to try to overscore in a game and end up losing because I’m doing something wrong and taking bad shots.
Q: Is it a weight off your shoulders now?
A: Definitely. Everyone was talking about it. “Oh, you’re this many points away.” Now that it’s gone and over with, I can just play and not listen to all that other outside noise.
Q: How close were you going into Thursday?
A: I was 23 away. I had 22 at halftime, so I knew it was coming that game.
Q: What does it mean to you to have your name atop the school record or to be among its best scorers?
A: It’s crazy. Since I was little I was looking up at the rafters and seeing all the names of the teams and all the championships. I just wanted to be there myself. Now, we are there winning championships and I get my name next to the great guys on the scoring list.
Q: That night, did you just have a feeling you were hot that game?
A: They played a zone. I usually sneak my way around the back of the zone and find a corner, or find the top of the key and step into my shots. My teammates got me the ball and it was a hot night for me.
Q: A game like that, can you tell during pregame warmups ‘My shots working tonight. It’s going to be a good night”
A: Sometimes you can tell, definitely in warmups if you hit a couple in a row. You can definitely get that feeling and you get confidence going into the game.
Q: The team’s off to a good start coming into the season. What’s making this team so special that will carry it forward?
A: We’re a year older now, so we have more experience. No one graduated last year. That also helps us. We’re all clicking together; we’ve been playing together since we were little.
Q: How do you all mesh together on the court?
A: We all do something different. We have drivers, we have rebounders, we have shooters. We have people that can do everything out there.
Q: What can you take from last year’s postseason experience that will benefit the team this year?
A: Last year we didn’t know what we had, honestly, against other teams. Now, we know we can compete with those teams.

Getting to know Nate Kreitzer
Year: Senior
Age: 18
Family: Mom Lori, Dad Brian, Brother Aaron (22), Sister Ella (13)
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone 2
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Favorite team: Michigan
Favorite athlete: Trey Burke
NBA Finals Pick: Warriors over Bucks
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Top thing on his Christmas list: Air Fryer
Favorite food: Pizza
Ideal pizza topping: Extra Cheese
Favorite place to eat: Revellos
Song that gets you fired up before a game: “Gang Related” by Logic
Favorite app on your smartphone: Twitter
Dream car: Jaguar F Pace
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?: Rome
One word that best describes you: Energetic
What superpower would you like to have?: Super speed
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Tom Cruise
Favorite thing about basketball: Teamwork
Hardest thing about basketball: Losing
Could Rose have saved Jack at the end of Titanic? Definitely
If a werewolf gets injured, would he go to a doctor or a vet? Doctor
The one thing you can’t live without: Family
One thing that scares you the most: Heights
If you won the lottery, first thing you’d do with the money: Invest
Biggest role model: Brother Aaron
Plans after high school: Play college basketball

12/21/2018
BOYS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP
A huge night for Nanticoke's Nate Kreitzer
Nate Kreitzer 1000 point

At Coughlin, Nanticoke Area’s Nate Kreitzer scored his 1,000th career point on Thursday, and also broke his own school record with 10 3-pointers in a 65-39 Trojans win.

His 43 points is the highest-scoring night in the WVC so far this season.

Tony Egidio’s 16 points paced Coughlin.

Nanticoke Area (65)

N. Kreitzer 14 5-7 43, C. Butczynski 3 1-1 7, A. Kozlofski 2 0-0 6, T. Krupinski 2 0-0 5, S. Shiloh 1 1-2 3, J. Bielecki 0 1-2 1, J. Fox III 0 0-0 0, J. Krupinski 0 0-0 0, L. Myers 0 0-0 0, D. Szychowski 0 0-0 0, C. Brown 0 0-0 0, Totals 22 8-12 65.

Coughlin (39)

A. Egidio 7 1-3 16, J. Hall 3 3-4 9, B. Hall 4 0-0 8, D. Jones 1 0-0 2, E. Henry 1 0-0 2, A. Bennett 0 2-2 2, E. Kimmeng 0 0-0 0, A. Kulikowich 0 0-0 0, J. Kinlaw 0 0-0 0, M. Oxford 0 0-0 0, M. Egidio 0 0-0 0, T. Zavada 0 0-0 0, M. Senape 0 0-0 0, A. Pena 0 0-0 0, P. Allen 0 0-0 0, Totals 16 6-9 39.

Nanticoke Area 10 22 22 11—65

Coughlin 12 8 8 11—39

3-point goals: N. Kreitzer (NA) 10, A. Kozlofski (NA) 2, T. Krupinski (NA) 1, A. Egidio (Cou)

12/6/2018
WVC BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Team Capsules
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area

Coach: John Beggs

2017 results: 20-6, beat No. 4 Wyoming Area, 52-48, for third-place in District 2 Class 4A; lost to Bethlehem Catholic, 71-30, in the PIAA first round.

Key players: Seniors — Nate Kreitzer; Trahjan Krupinski; Dylan Szychowski. Junior — Colby Butczynski. Sophomores — J.J. Bielecki; Jake Krupinski; Luke Myers.

Outlook: There’s a lot to like about this team, starting with point guard Kreitzer and forward Trahjan Krupinski. Kreitzer averaged 19.4 ppg with 80 3s and an 80.3 percent free throw percentage in 2017-18. He’s as good a player there is in the WVC. Both Krupinskis are solid players, too. The Trojans are not very deep, but the first few players off the bench can certainly hold their own. Nanticoke Area did not graduate anyone from last season.