Teams rebuild. Programs don't.
After back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in nearly two decades, Panther Valley has established the fact that it has what it takes to be a winning team.
Head coach Pat Crampsie thinks its time to show that Panther Valley is also a winning program.
"We're looking to build on what we've accomplished the past two seasons," said Cramspie. "We think the program is now in a spot where we can compete year in and year out."
Two years ago, the Panthers ended an eight-year District 11 playoff qualifying drought. Last season, they won their first District game in 19 years.
If Cramspie and the Panthers are going to keep the momentum rolling, they will have to do it with just two returning starters and only four players on the entire roster who saw any significant varsity playing time.
Gone from last season's 14-10 team, are starters Logan Stano, Damian Lewis and Kyle Picht.
"We lost five quality seniors, three of them starters," said Crampsie. "In addition, our league will be extremely difficult this season.
"But I feel we can still be competitive. We have a couple of excellent returning starters in Zach Stanko and Brock Mitchell to build around and a number of kids around them who have worked hard and have shown a lot of improvement since last year."
Stanko is a three-year starter who can play either guard position. He averaged 6.7 ppg. a year ago.
"We're counting on Zach to be a leader for us both offensively and defensively," said Cramspie. "We're going to be counting on him more offensively this year than in his first two years as a starter. I think Zach knew that and he has really improved his offensive skills."
At 6-5, 245-pounds, Mitchell will provide Panther Valley with a solid presence in the lane. He was the Panthers' second leading scorer last season at 12.4 ppg.
"Brock is someone who kept getting better and better as the season went on last year," said Cramspie. "He had a tremendous second half of the season. I'm looking for him to pick up this year right where he left off. I think he could have a big year."
Rounding out the Panthers' starting lineup are 5-11 senior Joe Revell, 5-10 junior Thad Ogozalek and 6-4 junior Nate Mathewson. Both Ogozalek and Revell were key reserves a year ago.
Crampsie expects to go at least seven players deep and will be counting on 5-10 junior Nick McArdle and 6-3 sophomore Brett Kerschner to provide significant contributions off the bench. Rounding out the varsity roster are Mike Hadesty, Kevin Dunn, Zack King, Jon Santiago and Joe Dalessio.
"We have a good nucleus to build around and some nice size inside with Brock [Mitchell] and Nate [Mathewson]," said Cramspie, whose Panthers drop to Class AA this season after playing AAA the past two seasons. "But I think our defense will be the key for us.
"With three new starters, we will have to rely on the defense to carry us until our offense comes along and we can develop some depth."