Trojan Basketball

1/12/2021
WVC boys basketball preview
Steve Bennett – Citizens Voice

HEAD COACH: Zach Pientka

LAST YEAR: 8-18; lost to Montoursville in 1st round of 4A state playoffs

PLAYERS TO WATCH: J.J. Bielecki, Sincere Shiloh, Justin Spencer, Jake Krupinski, Luke Myers

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Pientka served as the interim head coach but had the tag removed prior to the start of the season. Bielecki was second on the team last season with 38 3-pointers. Krupinski was third with 23. This is an athletic group that can get up and down the floor. With a combined eight freshmen and sophomores, the Trojans have a nice mix of experience and a talented younger group that will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience, depending on how deep the rotations are going to be. The Trojans always have players who can shoot the ball, but won’t be able to rely on the outside shot every night. They are going to need to have a big man or two establish a presence on both ends of the floor.

1/10/2021
H.S. Boys Basketball Outlook
John Erzar – Times Leader

NANTICOKE

Coach: Zach Pientka
2019-20 WVC record: 4-10 Div. 1, 6th; 8-18 overall

2019-20 postseason: D2-4A Playoffs – Tunkhannock, W 46-38; Valley View, L 50-43; Hanover Area, W 57-53. PIAA 4A Playoffs – Montoursville, L 66-51

State classification: 4A

District 2 titles: 14 (3A – 1967, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2003)

Key players lost: Colby Butczynski, G/F; Collin Brown, G; Andy Kozlofski, F

Key players: JJ Bielecki, Sr.; John Chernowsky, Sr.; Jake Krupinski, Sr.; Luke Myers, Sr.; Sincere Shiloh, Sr.; Justin Spencer, So.

Outlook: The Trojans shift from Division 1 to Division 2 under realignment. Jake Krupinski, a four-year starter, will be part of a solid returning group. JJ Bielecki, Luke Myers and Sincere Shiloh were also major contributors on the varsity level last season. There is also a very promising bunch of freshman aboard, so the Trojans could be a blend of experience and youth. Offense was an issue last season as Nanticoke Area failed to crack 50 points on 12 occasions and could be once again. Looks like a team that could be on either side of .500 by a few games.

12/7/2020
WVC basketball season proceeds with caution
Steve Bennett – Citizens Voice

When the Wyoming Valley Conference basketball coaches gathered virtually on Sunday afternoon for their annual press conference, the general theme was hope.

As in the group is hoping to be able to have some semblance of a normal season. Hoping everyone can stay healthy and, in some cases, just hoping to get back on the court and resume practicing.

Teams like Valley West, Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area and Holy Redeemer have had no issues. A few others like Wyoming Area and Tunkhannock were able to begin practicing less than a week ago. Then there are others who have had their practices put on hold due to COVID-19 concerns within their respective school districts. That has made for a hectic couple of weeks. The first official date to begin practice was Nov. 20. Pittston Area was able to get five days in before having to hit the pause button.

Issues like that are forcing teams to abstain from any non-conference games this month. Berwick will not have any competitions until the WVC regular season is set to begin on Jan. 2, with a full slate of games scheduled.

Shuffling the deckThe conference is split into two divisions this year. Valley West, Berwick, Wilkes-Barre Area, Tunkhannock, Crestwood, Hazleton Area and Pittston Area make up Division 1. Division 2 will feature Wyoming Area, Dallas, Nanticoke Area, Lake-Lehman, Hanover Area, Holy Redeemer and Wyoming Seminary.

MMI Prep announced it will not be participating in winter sports. This also means that on each game night, there will be a team from each division with a bye.

But here is a thought. Since teams are looking to play as many games as possible, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if the teams from each division that have a bye schedule a game against each another. Seems simple enough.

Welcome aboard

As is the tendency with any new season, there’s some turnover in the coaching ranks. Five new coaches will be taking over programs.

For the most part, they are all names that have been around the game and the conference for a significant amount of time. Chris Parker takes over at Valley West. Parker was a longtime head coach in the girls conference, mainly at Holy Redeemer and most recently Hanover Area.

Tim Barletta is in at Hazleton Area while Bob Calarco Jr., an assistant at Berwick for 10 seasons, is now the head coach of the Bulldogs.

Zach Pientka is now officially the head coach at Nanticoke Area. Pientka served as the interim head coach of the Trojans last season before being hired as the full-time coach for this year. Pientka led the Trojans to a berth in the state tournament.

This and that

Frank Majikes, the District 2 chairman and president of the PIAA, popped into the meeting to offer some news from around the conference.

Majikes said the conference athletic directors have had preliminary discussions about starting the regular season later than the Jan. 2 start date. No formal decision has been made; there has only been discussion. So, that might be something to keep an eye on going forward.

Also, there are between eight and 10 referees who have opted out for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 concerns or job responsibilities. Majikes told the coaches there may be instances where teams see the same officiating crew or parts of a crew on back-to-back nights, something he has tried to avoid unless absolutely necessary.

The WVC championship tournament has been canceled for this year. The event, which has the top four boys and girls teams play for an overall league title has been well received. But with the uncertainty going forward, the league will be able to use the dates set aside for the tournament for any games that may need to be rescheduled.

The annual McGrane Tournament will still be held this year. The details are expected to be ironed out sometime today. The tournament, held at the Wyoming Valley CYC, features Pittston Area, Crestwood, Hanover Area and Holy Redeemer. The fact Crestwood will be able to begin practice today saved the event. Though, it will be a bit different this year as a varsity-only event.

Game on

Friday would normally be a big day in the conference. If not Friday, then definitely Saturday. The first official day when teams can begin playing games that matter is usually an exciting time. Now, coaches won’t be able to get in gyms to scout, so they will now have to rely on exchanging film or using Hudl accounts.

But so far, the only game scheduled for Friday night is Valley West at Nanticoke Area. On Saturday, Holy Redeemer will board a bus and travel to the Williamsport area to take on St. John Neumann.

On Monday night, Hanover Area will play at Northwest. Unfortunately for the conference, Northwest bolted the WVC and is now part of District 4, though the Rangers will be able to compete for a title through District 2. There is no doubt that coach Sean Miller will be missed. Though, from a personal level, I can still get a chance to see him when I visit my mom.