The Tamaqua boys basketball program has not enjoyed much success over the past several years. Since 2003-04, which is the last time the Raiders had a winning campaign they've averaged just four wins a season. However, there is hope on the horizon for this season's Tamaqua club with a young crop of talent players looking to take the next step in 2012-13.

That young group starts with sophomore Brett Kosciolek, who had arguably one of the best freshman seasons in Tamaqua history last year. Kosciolek averaged almost 15 points per game and also led the TIMES NEWS area in scoring. He was the first freshman to ever lead the area in scoring as far back as the TIMES NEWS records indicate. Kosciolek's length at 6-6 and his ability to shoot from the outside (38 3-point FG) give Tamaqua an inside/outside threat along with somebody that will certainly draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

"We know Brett has a perimeter game, but we also want to establish him a lot more inside this season," said Tamaqua head coach Caszy Kosciolek. "We have some guards with similar ability in Zach Wargula, Drew Chartier, Mike Weinert, Bo Rotett, Nate Macdonald and don't rule out a Joey Marcin.

"All of those guys can step out there and contribute to our perimeter scoring. It all depends on our rotation once the season gets started whether Brett will be at the three spot or playing down low at the four. Honestly, the key with Brett is to make the people around him better and if he can do that we're going to be a solid team."

Tamaqua showed glimpses of good basketball last season, often times leading at half against quality opponents, but somehow always found a way to let the lead slip away. That's the markings of a young and inexperienced team, which is exactly what the Raiders were last season. However, with a year under their belt improvement in finishing ball games is expected in 2012-13.

"With us it all comes down to the little things," said Kosciolek. "We have to do a better job of getting stops down the stretch and we also have to become a better defensive rebounding team then a year ago.

"We struggled defensively in the second half of games last season and that obviously can't happen if you want to win games. I think if we can limit teams to one shot and done, take care of the ball, and execute on offense like I know we can we're definitely going to improve and win some more games."

The Raiders shouldn't have a problem rebounding the basketball with some tall trees planting their presence in the paint. 6-6 Kosciolek, 6-4 Tanner Kehl, 6-4 Marcin, and 6-1 Tyler Krell will all be in the mix down low. Adam Frantz, Tyler Skripko, and Trevor Skripko are also expected to contribute.

Another reason Coach Kosciolek sees good things coming this season is the competition for spots on the floor. The Raiders look to be a pretty deep team and the fight for a starting position usually brings out the best in an athlete.

"We have a lot of competition for position and I think that has made things more intense at practice in turn making us better as a team," said Kosciolek. "We're relatively deep team as well which means we'll be more fresh during the course of a game because more guys will be playing more meaningful minutes. When it comes down to it winning is a learned behavior and basically our whole roster now has had success winning games at our junior high basketball level. So we just need to bring that mentality to the varsity level this season."