See below for the following articles:
  • One memorable ride: Nanticoke High 1961 state champs to be honored
  • Nanticoke Area's 1990 state championship girls basketball team bonded by lasting memories
  • 2/10/2015 - Athletic community mourns loss of former Nanticoke Area AD
  • 5/22/2005 - Trojans cry foul/ A look back: 1969 Nanticoke Boys Basketball team vs. Steelton-Highspire
  • 1982-1983 - Nanticoke Area gets its revenge
  • 1961 Champion Nanticoke Rams - Wyoming Valley Hoosiers
  • 1990 Champion Trojanette Basketball
  • 1961 Champion Nanticoke Rams
  • 2003 Championship Trojanette Softball







One memorable ride: Nanticoke High 1961 state champs to be honored

Nearly 55 years have past since that magical night at the Harrisburg Farm Show Arena, but the memories remain strong and now they’ll be revisited.
The Nanticoke High School basketball team which won the 1961 PIAA Class A state title will be honored Friday prior to the game between Nanticoke and GAR. The ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. and a banner honoring the team will be revealed.
Two of the five starters who defeated Hickory Township 56-46 will be present, Bill James and Rich Kiewlak. James lives in Jim Thorpe while Kiewlak resides in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Joe Shepela, who lives in California, and George Yanchik, who lives in South Carolina, won’t be attending. Ken Legins, the fifth starter, died in 2013. Coach Syl “Stretch” Bozinski, who finished with 616 career victories, died in 2001. Other players and some cheerleaders are also expected to be there.
“Never, never did we doubt our ability,” Shepela said. “We worked as a team and were very well coached. At practice, we went through the drills over and over and over. We were like a well-oiled machine. When any team threw something at us different, we were able to change our tactics. Maybe instead of hitting Kenny all the time, hit Billy. And then Richie would hit some really long ones.
“That’s why I feel we were adaptable to changing situations.”
And every player had their role and accepted it. Yanchik didn’t have any classes with the others and described himself as “a social outsider to that degree” yet played a huge part in the team’s 26-1 record that season.
“I wasn’t a big part offensively,” Yanchik said. “My area was playing defense and rebounding. We had plenty of scoring.”
All four of the surviving starters agreed Legins was the star of the bunch. He scored 16 points in the championship game and went on to play at George Washington University where he led the team in scoring for three years and was All-Southern Conference as a senior.
“Kenny, everything he that got he earned it,” said James, who was a co-captain with Legins. “I never had any jealousy toward him.”
“He was the kingpin,” Shepela said of Legins. “He had the ability to overcome taller guys in the post. He was only 6-4, 6-5 and he overcame great odds against taller guys in the post.”
Nanticoke also overcame being a small school winning at the state’s highest level. The PIAA had three classes in 1961, with Class A having the schools with the largest enrollment. Nanticoke was grouped with the smallest teams in Class C, but elected to play at Class A.
“I don’t think a lot of people know that we are the only Class C team that took a Class A title in Pennsylvania,” Kwielak said. “I don’t think that will ever be done again with all the jointures.”
A year before winning the 1961 championship, Nanticoke rode a 26-0 record into the Eastern State Finals only to lose to York. The championship season didn’t start out well for the Rams, who were also called the Nans, as they dropped an early season game to Sharon in a tournament in Johnstown.
Nanticoke never lost again that season.
James recalled a memorable game against rival Newport Township during the championship run. The two high schools would eventually merge with Harter High School, located across the Susquehanna River, to form what is now Greater Nanticoke Area.
Newport was coached by Jim Davis, who would later coach and become the athletic director at the new school. Word got out that the Newport players were saying they were going to come to Nanticoke and leave with a victory.
“They were getting cocky and saying they were going to come our place and they were going to beat us,” James said. “You know what we beat them by? Fifty-five points. That’s how good this team was.”
Every home game was packed. The gym at the high school — which stood where a CVS Pharmacy is now when entering the town via the Sans Souci Highway — held about 700-800 people. Sometimes twice as many would squeeze in to see the Rams.
As good as the Rams were, they once again ran into trouble in the Eastern State Finals against Reading. Trailing by seven with barely two minutes left, many fans began to leave. Nanticoke, though, went to a full-court press and pulled out a 51-47 victory by scoring the game’s final 11 points.
There weren’t as many dramatics in the championship game against Hickory Township. Legins scored 10 first-quarter points. James had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Except for a lull in the third quarter, the Rams kept Hickory Township at arm’s length on the way to a 56-46 victory. Nanticoke fans made up a large part of the 9,000 in attendance.
“I’d hate to think what would have happened if we lost,” Yanchik said. “We certainly would have been disappointed. We had a good team and in the game we were never really threatened I guess. We had the lead throughout the game. I don’t remember any specific times where the game was getting away from us.”
The game was played on a Saturday night, so the team stayed over in Harrisburg. The next morning on the trip back, the Rams were met in Bloomsburg by a fire truck on Route 11 and escorted to just outside of Nanticoke. There, the team switched to convertibles and was escorted through town until reaching Central Park where a ceremony was held. Various reports had the crowd at the park estimated between 20,000-30,000.
“There were 20,000-30,000 fans and there are only 11,000 people in Nanticoke,” James said. “So we had a lot of people rooting for us. And another thing, for months we ate for nothing. We were in every restaurant from Nanticoke to Wilkes-Barre to Scranton. These are things you never forget.”
Shepela didn’t want to forget the Nanticoke reserves, who he called the best practice team the starting five could have. He was the only starter to return for 1962 where the Rams’ season ended in the Eastern State Semifinals.
“Everybody on the team worked well,” Shepela said. “Looking back at it, there wasn’t any person who thought they were well above anybody else on the team. We were five guys who worked hard.”

Nanticoke Area’s 1990 state championship girls basketball team bonded by lasting memories
Nanticoke Area celebrates 25th anniversary of 1990 state championship girls basketball team

A lot has changed in 25 years.
Casey Comoroski moved to Missouri.
Ellen Bartuska beat breast cancer.
Tia Hornlein had twin daughters and Lori Scally’s busy raising three kids.
Their perfect run together at Nanticoke Area 25 years ago?
That will always remain the same.
“It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” said Holly Kozlowski-Udzella, a forward on that 1989-90 Nanticoke Area team who now resides in Bloomingdale, Pennsylvania and works as a senior financial advisor for CVS Health. “When you have that much of a successful and dominant season, it’s like it’s forever going to stand still in time in everyone’s memory.”
The memories of Nanticoke Area’s 30-0 season came rushing back to the Nanticoke Area gym during a ceremony Wednesday night that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the school’s last state championship team and the Wyoming Valley Conference’s last Class 3A girls PIAA title team, which ended with a 10-point victory over Beaver Falls in the PIAA Class 3A title game.
Many of the old heroes from that storybook season returned to their old gym, which overflowed with adoring fans and shook with deafening applause straight out of that state title run.
“The fan support in Nanticoke is unbelievable,” said Scally before turning her attention to a well-wisher. “You see this guy? This guy has the same seat now that he did when I was playing. It’s crazy.”
Those die-hard Nanticoke Area basketball fans went wild over the stars who once brought them a delight that will never age, even if those girls have different names through marriage these days.
It’s Tia Hornlein Callahan and Renee Pionkowski Hornlein now, sharing the stage with Holly Ryncavage Scarbrough and Nichole Getts Carey.
They were all there re-living the times of their lives Wednesday, along with Comoroski Hunt and Scally Zaleski, forming a pack of 15 former players enjoying a victory reunion on the court.
And at the end of the introductions, Comoroski Hunt grabbed that 1990 state championship trophy, walked it out to center court, then prodded the rest of her old teammates to come join her in holding it high.
“Twenty-five years ago, we did the exact same thing,” Scally Zaleski said. “We held it and we walked around Hersheypark Arena with that trophy in our hands. After 25 years, it makes you appreciate it so much more.”
That team is still held in high regard around Nanticoke.
Comoroski Hunt, who’s spent the past 13 years as the senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator at Missouri State University, senses it immediately when she returns to her hometown.
“When I’m here and go to the grocery story,” Comoroski Hunt said, “there’ll be somebody behind us saying, ‘Hey mom, that’s Casey from the state championship team.’
“And I come in once a year!”
The years that have past since that 1990 state championship success certainly didn’t get lost on today’s Nanticoke Area players, Scally Zaleski noticed.
“It was nice, when we came out, to see the young Trojanettes crying,” Scally Zaleski said. “They had tears in their eyes.
“And these girls weren’t even born when we won.”
They didn’t know it at the time, but a legend for the ages was born with that unparalleled 1989-90 Nanticoke Area season.
The Trojanettes scored at least 100 points five times, and regularly destroyed league opponents while often deciding the outcome by halftime – if not the end of the opening quarter.
Four players from that team – Bartuska, Comoroski Hunt, Scally Zaleski and Kozlowski Udzella – were inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame.
And while their lives took them in different directions, to this day, they remain tightly bonded by what very well may be the best girls basketball season in Wyoming Valley Conference history.
“The best thing is, you have a great memory,” Kozlowski Udzella said, “but you have great friends. Lifetime friends.”
They stay in touch, one way or another.
“The big thing that has helped is Facebook,” Kozlowski Udzella said. “We do a lot of socializing on Facebook.”
And when they come face to face, it’s as if they never left one another.
“I haven’t seen the majority of my teammates in 25 years,” Comoroski Hunt said. “And it’s like it’s yesterday.”

Athletic community mourns loss of former Nanticoke Area AD
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

The list of what Jim Davis accomplished tells a story that personifies him as being exactly who Ken Bartuska said he was.
“He’s the father of Nanticoke Area athletics,” Bartuska said.
A product of Nanticoke High School — where he was a decorated basketball player — Davis spent 30 years as an educator, coach and athletic director at Nanticoke Area. At different points in his career, he coached basketball and cross country, and was an assistant football coach too.
Davis died Thursday. He was 80.
Among his important contributions to the community was serving as Nanticoke Area’s first athletic director when the Nanticoke, Newport and Harter schools combined in the mid-1960s.
At the time, the three high schools offered just basketball, baseball and football. With Davis overseeing the athletic program, Nanticoke Area expanded to its current offering of a wide-variety of sports to play.
“He established all the programs. He was the one that got everything going,” said Bartuska, the district’s current athletic director. “Every team, every program we have today has his mark on it in some shape or form. ... He was a tough, old school, demanding guy. But there’s nobody that had your back more than he would have.”
Davis’ legacy is not defined solely by his time at Nanticoke Area. He also was very involved with District 2, where he succeeded Anthony Marchakitus as chairman in 1988 and stayed on in that role for 10 years.
“His impact and influence on the student-athletes across District 2 was unbelievable,” said current chairman Frank Majikes.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Davis’ reach extended past Northeast Pennsylvania, as he was a member of the PIAA State Board of Control and was awarded state Athletic Director of the Year in 1995. In addition to his 1976 induction into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Asked how Davis found time to delve into all these different ventures, in addition to being a church and family man, Majikes laughed and said, “That’s a very good question. But he always found the time and he was available to everybody.” Majikes added that Davis “very seldom,” if ever, missed District 2 meetings in his time as chairman.
After first knowing of Davis in the 1950s when Davis played basketball at King’s, Majikes said Davis became a mentor to him.
Prior to Nanticoke Area’s boys and girls basketball games late last week, the gym shared in a moment of silence to honor Davis. Bartuska said he hopes additional things will happen at Nanticoke Area in Davis’ honor, though nothing is planned yet.
Current Nanticoke Area girls basketball coach Alan Yendrzeiwski played for the Trojans in 1995-96 when they made the state playoffs. Davis was the athletic director and biology teacher when he was a student.
Yendrzeiwski said Davis was frequently at games with other administrators, supporting the team.
“He was just an icon, not just in Nanticoke, but the entire Wyoming Valley,” Davis said. “It was just so sad that he passed away.”

Sunday, May 22, 2005 Page: 1B

The Nanticoke High School boys basketball team left the locker room after halftime with a commanding 16-point lead over Steelton-Highspire. When the Trojans returned to the locker room 16 minutes of game clock later, they were a beaten team.
Steelton-Highspire, however, had little to do with the outcome of that March 15, 1969, PIAA Class 3A Eastern semifinal game. Nanticoke, it is believed by many, was beaten by a pair of officials who inexplicably reversed the course of one of the best teams in Wyoming Valley history.
By legendary coach Syl "Stretch" Bozinski's estimation, Nanticoke was called for 23 traveling violations in the second half against Steelton-Highspire after hardly being whistled at all for walking in the first half or its previous 24 games.
"Phil Atwood and Norm Carden, I never forgot them," former Nanticoke assistant coach John Kashatus said, remembering the officials. "That's the first time I said those names in 20 years, but that's how indelible they are in my mind."
This was a Nanticoke team that averaged 90 points per game when there was no three-point line. This was a team that overcame the recent merger of Nanticoke and Newport Township high schools. This was a team that was led by no true superstar, but rather by an athletic group of winners - that Trojans senior class won five of six possible Wyoming Valley League titles in football, basketball and baseball in 1967-68 and 1968-69.
"I don't want to cry on anyone's shoulder," said Dave Washinski, a senior sharpshooter on that Nanticoke team. "When you lose, you lose. But it was kind of plain to see now that I'm older ... You don't play 30 games and score 90 points or better and make 10 turnovers a game or less and then go into one half and make 25."
Bozinski guided Nanticoke to the state title in 1961, but these '69 Trojans were even better. They were undefeated in 1969, winning 24 consecutive games by an average margin of 20 points, heading into the Steelton-Highspire matchup. Six regular players scored 20 points at least once during the season.
It appeared nothing could stop this Nanticoke team.
Steelton-Highspire was a near mirror image of the Trojans. Both teams lacked significant size but made up for it with aggressive, up-tempo offenses and tenacious man-to-man defenses. Not only did Nanticoke match up well with Steelton-Highspire, but the Trojans also had a coaching staff as good as any in the country.
First there was Bozinski, who at 6 feet 5 inches, was known as a gentle giant. He coached the Trojans for 31 years.
"He put Nanticoke on the map. I never saw him angry or using profane language. They called him the Cary Grant of basketball," said his first assistant, Rich Rutkowski, a Nanticoke assistant under several head coaches for 34 years.
Joining Rutkowski on the coaching staff were Kashatus and Joe Ciampi. While Kashatus made his mark coaching varsity baseball at Nanticoke and as an official himself, Ciampi went on to coach women's basketball at Auburn University for 27 years and become just the 10th coach in women's college basketball history to win 600 games.
From the opening tip against Steelton-Highspire, Nanticoke continued its dominating ways. The Trojans made 73 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half, racing out to a 23-10 lead after eight minutes before outscoring Steelton-Highspire 16-13 in the second quarter for a 39-23 halftime lead.
The Bilko brothers - Tom and Steve -- Washinski, Bob Yatko and Dave Morgan were in rare form and found the confines of the arena locker room comfortable, almost a prelude to another celebration.
"(Steelton-Highspire) came out kind of sluggish and we really hit everything in the first half," said Washinski. "It didn't seem like we were going to have any trouble."
Trouble, however, was right outside the locker room as the second half started.
Nanticoke, which didn't alter its game plan, was whistled for seven traveling violations before scoring its first field goal of the half at 5:52 of the third quarter. Steelton-Highspire outscored Nanticoke 15-7 in the third and cut the increasingly surmountable lead to 10 points.
"It almost seemed like no matter what we did, as soon as we caught the ball and took the first dribble it was a walk. It was like nobody wanted to get the ball after four or five of them," said Kashatus.
With so much confusion, many fans from the Wyoming Valley wondered why Nanticoke didn't call timeout during the second half. It wasn't for a lack of trying.
Ciampi nudged Kashatus with his elbow and said, "Coach, we've got to tell Syl to call timeout." Kashatus, agreeing, then nudged Rutkowski and relayed the message. Rutkowski followed in kind, but Bozinski wasn't a believer in timeouts. He rarely used them, believing his team would be better served if the players worked things out for themselves on the court. All the preparation had been done already in Bozinski's highly organized, fundamentals-based practices.
"Syl said, `We've just got to get settled,'" Kashatus recalled.
As the final minutes counted down, Steelton-Highspire came perilously close to taking the lead. Tom Bilko took a lob pass at the top of the key, took one dribble and converted an uncontested layup to add to Nanticoke's shrinking cushion.
But there it was again. That sound. That whistle, which had gone from an occasional game-stopper to a constant shriek, struck again. Officials called traveling on Bilko. No basket. Steelton-Highspire marched down the floor and took the lead for good.
The scoreboard read 57-54 in Steelton-Highspire's favor after the final buzzer, and the Trojans found themselves back in the locker room trying to figure out what happened.
"We stood outside with the coaches after the game in disbelief," said Rutkowski. "Like when you had the Kennedy assassination, it's just like shock. It takes a little while before it wears off.
"It was a long ride home. We never said anything about the game. We never even talked."
The PIAA, according to Rutkowski and newspaper accounts, stood steadfast by the officiating. Bozinski declined to protest the game's outcome, in part because the PIAA had upheld previous officials' rulings in several disputed games involving area teams. Also, that just wasn't Bozinski's style.
There were several conspiracy theories regarding what happened that winter Saturday in '69.
First, the officials were from District 1, or the suburban Philadelphia area. A District 1 team, Penn Crest, played in the other Eastern semi. One could conclude that the officials wanted their team to play the easier opponent, which on paper and in a fairly officiated game would have easily been Steelton-Highspire rather than Nanticoke.
Steelton-Highspire went on to beat Penn Crest and defeated Farrell easily in the state championship, 61-50.
Another possible explanation is the PIAA, or another outside influence, had something to do with the officiating after halftime. Steelton-Highspire is located in the Harrisburg area and the perennially contending Rollers played almost all of their games, including playoff contests, within District 3's borders and always brought throngs of fans with them. More fans meant more tickets sold, which led to a bigger payday for the state's governing body of high school athletics.
"Who's this Nanticoke? Steel-High was a moneymaker for them," said Rutkowski. "It was like a home team for them."
Rutkowski also said the PIAA was enraged by the coverage of the game from Wilkes-Barre newspapers. Nanticoke did not have a game film of the game to review the calls, although the PIAA did as it recorded most of its championship events.
"They felt the game was honestly refereed," Rutkowski said of the PIAA.
Kashatus recalled hearing after the game from people close to the Nanticoke squad that during halftime, fans were still looking to place bets that Steelton-Highspire would win.
Finally, some felt Nanticoke committed a lot of traveling violations in the first half, but they went uncalled. Also, it was suggested to the Trojans that District 2 officials didn't know how to call a walk properly and that's how Nanticoke played all season.
"If memory serves me correctly, we didn't have many walking violations during the year," said Kashatus.
The Greater Nanticoke Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to the PIAA calling for an investigation. In the letter, the group cited numerous statistics, including one that had Nanticoke averaging 10-15 violations per game during the regular season.
"My fellow players and I know we had the best team in the state that year, in our minds," said Washinski. "I know Coach told us plainly that we were as good or better than the '61 state championship team. We were proud of our accomplishment, it's just too bad we didn't get there. Sometimes that happens.
"We took it as a team. We were taught by coach to play your best and usually you'll come out a winner. But in this case it didn't, not when you have other people working against you."
"... We had the best team in the state that year." Dave Washinski Star on 1969 Nanticoke team

By Jim Reeser - (Sports Editor) Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area's 1982 season went down as one of the worst campaigns in school history. The Trojans went 0-11 and had to forfeit two games because of a teachers' strike.
One of the Trojans' 11 losses was an embarrassing 41-6 defeat at the hands of GAR.
When Nanticoke Area met the Grenadiers in Week 3 of the 1983, the Trojans were looking for revenge and their first win over GAR since a 13-7 victory in 1979.
Quarterback Gary Phillips and defensive back Ken Schinski made sure the Trojans got their revenge.
Phillips threw for 175 yards and three touchdown passes and Schinski intercepted two passes to lead Nanticoke Area to a 20-0 win over GAR.
Schinski was the star of a Nanticoke Area defense that dominated.
The Trojans allowed just 145 yards of total offense, including 69 yards on the ground. The defense had seven sacks and intercepted five passes.
"Schinski has that innate sense of where the ball is," Nanticoke Area coach Billy Goodman said. "We switched him from offense to defense and it was like he played it all his life. He really burned it up out there."
GAR wasn't the only city school in trouble in Week 3.
Meyers was 0-2 and mistakes were proving costly.
"We've made some glaring errors," Meyers coach Mickey Gorham said. "We've beaten ourselves. We aren't a great team but we should be more competitive.
"I'm perplexed by all the turnovers and mistakes we are making. There's no question we have to play with more intelligence."
The Mohawks had to wait to get their first win of the 1983 season.
Scott Gerbeck caught two touchdown passes and Eric Speece had a 57-yard touchdown run to lead Wyoming Area to an 18-7 win over the Mohawks.
Also, Hanover Area continued its defensive dominance as it held Dallas to 73 yards of total offense and earned its third straight shutout with a 34-0 win.

Neil Corbet - Citizens Voice

First row, from left, B. Grabinski, J. Grzymski, R. Kiewak, G. Yanchik, J. Shepela, K. Legins, B. James, J. Dudrick, L. Selecky, G. Ryback, J. Sunder and D Ford. Second row, N. Groblewski, E. Guffrovich, D. Dudrick, A. Cihocki, D. Galanos, R. Backstein, F. Machowski, D. Baron, H. Morgan. R. Pretulak. D. Maga and coach Syl Bozinski. Third row, B. Bartles, G. Pegerella, J. Smith, D. Sherrick, E. Gryzmski, J. Windt, A. Sands, T. Oshinski, H. Sinco and T. Williams.

The winds of change already were in the air.
A vibrant, handsome and athletic young man from Massachusetts - John Fitzgerald Kennedy - was just inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," signaled a change in direction for the USA. The dull 1950s were being swept away and Camelot was taking its place.
That optimism in Washington filtered to the Wyoming Valley which was moving ever so slowly out of its dependence on the anthracite coal industry.
Now, a group of young men were about to embark on a journey not seen in the area for more than 30 years and would result in a state basketball championship that galvanized the area and stamped Nanticoke as a city of champions.
Nanticoke High School captured state basketball championships in 1923 and 1926 and Newport Township/Wanamie did the trick in 1936. But, those days may well have been in a different century.
Radio and television sets were no longer just for the wealthy. Most households in the area in the 1960s had a least one of the appliances and, if not, a neighbor or relative did.
Fans did not have to wait for the morning newspaper to find out the results of games - key contests were broadcast over the radio and a select few were televised locally, allowing fans to get caught up in the fun.
And, the Rams took the ball and ran with it.
The Rams' championship in 1961 was the culmination of a three-year run under the legendary Syl "Stretch" Bozinski.
Bill James, a senior on the team, recalls how the team began to take shape when he, Ken Legins and Rick Kiewlak, were sophomores. James, in an interview prior to the class' 50th reunion, called Legins the key to it all. At 6-foot-4, he was tall for that era, had a soft shot and could still run the break.
"Our freshman team was unbeaten and I think we carried that through to our senior year. We knew we were good," said James.
The Rams won District 2 titles in 1959 and 1960 and both times the season ended with a loss in the PIAA playoffs, the last to York in the Eastern final.
"Kenny was just a terrific player," recalled James. "He started as a sophomore and I was the sixth man. We lost our only game in the Wyoming Valley League to Kingston that year and we had to play them again for the overall title and we beat 'em pretty bad."
James cites the 62-47 loss to York in his junior year as the lightning rod to the run for the state title the following year. "That was a tough loss," he said, "but it made us more determined for next year."
In a way to challenge his team, which already was playing "up" in the A classifications, Bozinski entered the Rams in the tough Johnstown Holiday Tournament where they would face bigger schools. The Rams lost to Sharon, 55-38, in the opener, but rebounded for a 69-57 win over a strong Chester squad, 69-57 to claim third place. In that game Legins scored 25 points and hauled down 23 rebounds. James and Joe Shepela each added 12.
"There was no stopping us then," James aid. "We just knew we were not going to lose."
The Rams proceeded to win 20-straight games, including a tough 51-47 win over Reading in the Eastern final. It all culminated with a 56-46 victory over Hickory Township in the Class A championship game at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg.
"Stretch had us ready for anything," James said. "Every day we practiced 20 minutes on pressing and against Reading we needed it. That's how prepared he had us."
More than 8,000 fans from Nanticoke made the trip to Harrisburg for the final and it was televised locally and fans took to the streets in Nanticoke, honking their horns in celebration.
The following day, a crowd estimated at 20,000 turned out for a rally at what is now Patriot Square in Nanticoke.
"On our way back to Nanticoke, our bus was greeted by fans in a lot of the smaller towns," James said.
A big win for the Wyoming Valley and a bigger win for Nanticoke.

Neil Corbett - Citizens' Voice

NANTICOKE AREA First row, from left, Melissa Bentkowski, Kim Nork, Casey Comoroski, Samantha Winckoski, Holly Kozlowski, Dawn Zidek and Kristin Surdowski. Second row, Lori Scally, Michelle Stashik, Ellen Bartuska, Joelle Glushefski and Holly Ryncavage. Third row, Nicole Getts, Tia Hornlein, Teri Galazin and Renee Piontkowski. Fourth row, Tanya Sauers, Joanne Opachinski and Jennifer Szot.

The passage of time can't take away the almost giddy feeling Lori Scally Zaleski gets when she remembers the year the Nanticoke Area girls practically danced to a PIAA basketball championship.
"We just had so much fun," the mother of twin boys who resides in Mountain Top said in a recent interview. "So many people got caught up in what we were doing and not just fans from Nanticoke, but from all over the Valley."
What the Trojanettes accomplished is unprecedented in the annals of girls' sports in the Wyoming Valley.
Led by five seniors: Scally, Casey Comoroski, Holly Kozlowski, Holly Ryncavage and Ellen Bartuska, the team put up incredible numbers in going 30-0 and capping things with the PIAA Class AAA championship.
"We had been playing together since junior high," said Scally, who also was senior class president. "We were really close and not just as teammates. We had great camaraderie."
The team also was extremely talented.
Four of the five seniors eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone: Scally, Kozlowski, Comoroski and Bartuska. Only an injury during her sophomore year, which limited her playing time, kept Ryncavage from joining the select group. Still, she did score more than 900 in her career.
During the exhibition and WVC's regular season, the Trojanettes averaged an eye-popping 96.9 ppg., and five times they went over the century mark, including 117 points in their final WVC game against Bishop Hoban.
With those huge scoring totals came the usual cries of running up the score against inferior competition, but coach Rose Volpicelli held fast to her rule of taking out a player once that player hit 18 points.
The Trojanettes had to get ready for the playoffs. The previous two years the team had advanced to the Eastern final only to be turned away by Lancaster Catholic.
"I think we always were thinking that we wanted to play them (Lancaster), said Scally.
First, the Trojanettes had to grab another District 2 championship, which they did, easily beating three Lackawanna League teams: Abington Heights, 89-35, Scranton Prep, 83-31 and finally Honesdale, 95-48 for the gold medal.
"Our practices were tough," said Scally. "Coach Volpicelli and (assistant) coach (Elaine) Deluca were getting us ready. We did a lot of scrimmaging, we practiced situational stuff like being down 10 with two minutes to go. It's hard to explain how wonderful she (Volpicelli) was."
Wins over Pottsville and Strath Haven gave the Trojanettes what they wished for - a rematch with Lancaster Catholic. This time, it wasn't even close with the Trojanettes romping, 98-53.
An 80-68 win over North Schuylkill sent Nanticoke Area to the championship game on a Saturday night in Hershey and a showdown with Beaver Falls.
Befitting a championship game, Beaver Falls gave the Trojanettes all they could handle and trailed by just four heading in the fourth quarter, a time when Nanticoke Area usually enjoyed double-digit leads.
"It was the toughest game we played (41 total fouls were called)," said Scally. "They played a physical game, trying to intimidate us and then there was the fight, but Casey had such a great game and led us to the win."
Comoroski had a game for the ages, scoring 36 points, including 22 of 25 from the foul line as the Trojanettes brought home the first PIAA girls basketball title to the Wyoming Valley.
The "fight" eluded to by Scally was more a skirmish and was ignited when, with just seconds left in the game, a Beaver Falls player grabbed Ryncavage by the hair from behind and pulled her to the floor. Ryncavage suffered a scratched face, bruised ribs and chipped teeth.
When she was able to get to her feet, she was afforded a long standing ovation by the thousands of Nanticoke fans at the game.
"It was just an incredible time," said Scally. "Winning the championship and then the parade at home with so many people clapping for us."

Jill Snowdon - Citizens Voice
Published: December 19, 2012

Nanticoke Area Members of the Nanticoke Area softball team were, first row, from left, Amanda Sisk and Melissa Makos. Second row, Diane James, Nancy Fine, Steph Lokuta and Amanda Mieczkowski. Third row, head coach Gary Williams, manager Sara Shales, Kristen Castano, Michelle Hazleton, Holly Walters, Kaylee Ziolkowski, Lindsey Ludorf, Jess Brenner, assistant coach Bernie Dalmes and assistant coach Dave Warren. Fourth row, Leah Lavelle, Leanne Harvey and Danielle Warren.

It's not often that a win comes easy in a state championship game. For Nanticoke Area's 2003 softball team, however, any victory that didn't require extra innings was considered a breeze.
After five straight extra-inning games in the postseason, Nanticoke Area's 4-0 seven-inning win in the Class AA state title contest was an otherwise easy day at the office.
"It was brutal," Nanticoke Area coach Gary Williams said of his team's streak of extra-inning games. "We even had T-shirts made up that read, 'Extra Innings Rule.'"
To add to the fun, a pair of the marathon games (Bishop Hoban in the District 2 tournament and Mifflinburg in the state quarterfinals) were played over two days, testing the Trojanettes' mental and physical strength.
"The game against Mifflinburg is definitely one of those games I will always remember," said Williams, who retired last month after 22 seasons with the Trojanettes. "We were playing down in Bloomsburg and after 18 innings the game got called because of darkness. We had to come back the next day and play two more innings. We ended up winning 3-2."
A few days later, Nanticoke Area held off Danville for a 2-0 win in 14 innings. The win over Danville sent the Trojanettes to the Class AA state title game against Center High School, marking the first time a Wyoming Valley Conference softball team played for state gold.
Despite not having a senior in its starting line-up, Nanticoke Area was a well-deserving contender with all of its starters returning from the previous season. And sophomore pitcher Jess Brenner was the Trojanettes' anchor.
One of three starting sophomores, Brenner established herself as the best pitcher in the conference that season and she carried the Trojanettes through the playoffs with 80 innings pitched, 24 hits allowed, a 0.35 ERA, 79 strikeouts and 15 walks in seven postseason games.
"Her mental approach was remarkable," Williams said. "You would actually see her best pitching in tighter games."
The Trojanettes set Brenner up to shine as they weren't an overpowering team on offense and many of their wins came by just one or two runs. They did enough to keep ahead on the scoreboard and turned things over to their defense to handle the rest.
"We had an exceptional defense," Williams said. "They were a tough-minded group that demonstrated confidence. Everyone knew we had a great pitcher, but we were really good defensively. In the playoffs we didn't have an errors."
Brenner, who allowed just two earned runs during the regular season, dazzled in the state final. The righty threw a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts. Nanticoke Area's bats got going early against Center but the runs didn't come in until the third inning.
Holly Walters, a junior catcher, sparked the offense with three hits and two RBIs and she also helped turn a pair of double plays.
The Trojanettes ended the 2003 season with a 22-4 record, a league title, a District 2 championship and a state title, making them the most successful squad to ever come out of the area.
"The closeness of that team was really something special," said Williams, who finished his career with a 330-162 record and another state title in 2010. "They really had a family kind of attitude toward each other. And still to this day, they will give me a call or send a text to see how things are. I'm proud to say that we were the first team from the Wyoming Valley to win a state softball championship."

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'61 Nanticoke Rams captivated community
Neil Corbett - Citizens' Voice

When basketball fans in the Wyoming Valley discuss the greatest teams in the past century, the talks generally rests on the 1961 PIAA champion Nanticoke Rams - but more commonly referred to in print and on radio and TV as the Nans.
Perhaps no other team captured the imagination of a community like those Nans did over a three-year period, 1959-61.
Three straight Wyoming Valley League championships.
Two straight District 2 Class A (Class A at the time represented schools with the largest student populations).
Two straight trips to the PIAA Eastern finals.
One state Class A championship.
Senior members of the team along with their classmates got a chance to recall those glory days over the weekend as the Class of 1961 from Nanticoke High School celebrated its 50th reunion.
"Magical," is how one member of that team - forward Bill James, described the Nans three-year run which culminated in that state championship. "We were the toast of the town. Everybody loved us. We played before packed houses. I think our gym held about 1,000. But every game, they packed in about 1500."
Coached by the legendary Syl "Stretch" Bozinski, the team that would win the title began to take shape in 1958-59 when a group of sophomores led by 6-foot-4 center Ken Legins, who had gone unbeaten as freshmen, joined an already talented team. By the time that sophomore class graduated, history had been made.
"Kenny was just a terrific player," said classmate James. "He started as a sophomore and I was the sixth man. We lost our only game in the Wyoming Valley League that year to Kingston and we had to play them again for the overall league title and we got our revenge . . . beat 'em pretty bad."
The following year, the Nans were the overwhelming favorite to win the WV League and they didn't disappoint.
"Stretch" had us ready for anything," James said. "Every day we worked 20 minutes on pressing defense. We never had to use it - until we played Reading and we needed it to win. That's how prepared he had us.
James also praised Bozinski for never wanting to embarrass his opponent. "Our senior year, he played everyone, everybody on the team earned a letter," James said.
As word spread, WILK radio jumped on the Nans' bandwagon and began broadcasting their games with the late Johnny Sobal, letting the rest of the Wyoming Valley in on the excitement.
That team, with Legins and James joined by the likes of Rich Kiewlak, Jim Shepela and George Dudrick, tore through the Wyoming Valley League and District 2 and took a 26-0 record to the Eastern final where the Rams were stunned by York, 62-47 at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg.
"That was a tough loss," said James, "but it made us more determined for next year."
James noted that Bozinski wanted to have his team ready for the state playoffs the next year by entering the Johnstown Tournament, going against bigger teams like Sharon and Chester.
"That was the thing many people forget," James said. "We were really a "C" team by enrollment and Stretch elected to play us in "A" against the bigger teams. We really were like the team in 'Hoosiers' - small school taking on the bigger schools."
The strategy seemed to backfire when the Rams lost the opener to Sharon, 55-38, but bounced back the following night to stop Chester - then as now, a perennial state power, 69-57.
"There was no stopping us then," said James. "We just knew we were not going to lose."
And they didn't, ripping off a 20-game win streak which culminated in a 56-46 victory over Hickory Township in the championship game.
Over the course of the year, the Rams averaged nearly 73 points per game while limiting their opponents to just 48 ppg., winning by an average of 25 ppg. Their toughest game again came in the Eastern final against Reading where the Rams squeezed out a 51-47 victory,
More than 8,000 fans made the trek from Nanticoke to Harrisburg as the basketball fever engulfed the town.
"It was a crazy time," recalled Les Williams, a 1961 grad who joined his classmates over the weekend for the reunion. "Even in school, the teachers were caught up. Our advanced algebra teacher even made up formulas on game days to show us how we were going to win. It really was a lot of fun."
Williams also recalled how the caravan from Nanticoke to Harrisburg stretched along Route 11 for as far as the eye could see. "We had somewhere between 45 and 60 buses filled."
James said when he looked at the crowd from the court floor, he thought the whole town was there.
When the game was over - it was televised locally - the town erupted with cars taking to the streets and blowing their horns.
The players did not return until Saturday and, as James recalled, the Nanticoke bus was stopped in several of the smaller towns along the way, including Berwick, where fans congratulated them.
When the bus reached West Nanticoke, the players were taken off the bus and rode on the back of convertibles where fans lined the streets.
At what is now Patriot Square, it was estimated 20,000 fans turned out for a rally and the players each got to say a few words.
Nanticoke basketball had captured previous state championships in 1923 and 1926 but nothing captured the imagination of not just a town, but a whole valley, as the 1961 teams.
As James said, it was "magical."

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