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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rich Oertner loves a challenge.

As the new head coach of the Lehighton boys basketball team, he definitely has one.

The former Northern Lehigh mentor takes over a program that has won just five games over the past four seasons, including a 1-21 mark a year ago. The Indians have also suffered 50 straight conference losses, and haven't had a winning season since the 2000-01 season.

Despite that, Oertner feels better days are ahead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Lady Indians taking a positive approach

Talk to new Lehighton girls basketball coach Ray Bressi and the one word that jumps out is positive.

Within the sport though, positive can mean different things to different people.

For some, it's posting a certain number of wins. For others, it's reaching the playoffs. For many, it's simply improving from game-to-game, but for Bressi a longtime mentor and currently a disciplinarian at Panther Valley, it's about something else.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
RICH GEORGE/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Palmerton's wrestling team will include: Front, from left, Adam Moyer, J.D. Christman, Dillon Masington and Matthew Wolfe. Second row, Kelsey Eaton (manager), Zach Christman, Jacob Christman, Brandon Trauger, Josh Evans, Sam Oberlander, Daniel Russo and Vanessa Evans (manager). Third row, same order, assistant coach Mike Englert, Travis Wolfe, David Silverstein, Andrew Strauss, Kane Kralik, Cody Grohotolski, James Wooten, Joey Bubble, Bradley Shoop, Zachary Graver and head coach Dave Lavin.

When Dave Lavin took over as Palmerton's head wrestling coach two years ago, his first hurdle was to build a program that had a wrestler at every varsity weight class. And that hurdle is about to be cleared as the Blue Bombers anxiously await the start of the 2011-12 season.

With plenty of experience returning from a team that qualified for District Duals the first time in school history, this could be the season that the Bombers could finally find themselves in the upper echelon of not just the Colonial League, but District 11 AA competition.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
MIKE HAINES/TIMES NEWS Northwestern Lehigh's wrestling team members include: First row, from left, Dylan Faust and Anthony Fillis. Second row, from left, David Grace, Cole Moyer, Ethan Keichel and Michael Ortiz. Third row, from left, Matt Dunaway, Mitchell Evans, Drew Wessner, Levi Veppert, David Tirpak and Alex Russo.

Northwestern is no longer the wrestling powerhouse that it was just four or five years ago.

The Tigers no longer have a line up featuring eight or 10 district place winners. They are no longer mentioned among the top teams in the state. And they probably won't contend for a district team title. But the team would like to return to that tournament after a one-year hiatus.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 1955 Terry Eckart tallies a game-high 25 points and Palmerton pulls away after a close first quarter to roll past Nazareth, 64-29. The Blue Bombers, coached by Win Evans, lead 15-13 after the first frame but outscore their opponents 49-16 the rest of the way. Bob Mlkvy finishes right behind Eckart with 23 points while the winners also receive eight points from Pete Gulden.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
MIKE HAINES/TIMES NEWS Northwestern Lehigh girls basketball team members include: First row, from left, Sabrina Mertz, Sam MacLaughlin, Cheyenne Shupp, Jen Nemes and Emma Kemmerer. Second row, Taylor Dietrich, Caileigh Landrigan, Erynn Day, Alex Lerner and Abigail Heydlauf. Back row, Sara Jones, Trista Cunningham, Jess Albright, Sarah Segan and Kaleen Suter.

After a two-year absence from postseason play, the Northwestern girls basketball team plans to return this year.

The Lady Tigers came within a couple games of making districts last year. With all of their key players returning, the program's rebuilding process could reach completion this season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
MIKE HAINES/TIMES NEWS Northwestern Lehigh's boys basketball team includes: Front row, from left, Mason Schuler and Naveed Hadian. Middle Row, same order, Payton Bachman, Tyler Richardson, David Dorney and David Wagner. Back row, from left, JP Bittenbender, Matt Maher, Jarred Binder, Richard Perry and Matthew Rivera.

Rebuilding after a one-win season is never easy. But it's the task that this year's Northwestern boys basketball team faces.

"From day one of open gyms and through now the kids have been working extremely hard," said first-year head coach Dan Eddinger. "We're pleasantly surprised and at the same time we're really happy with where we are at this point. There's still a long way to go, but we're excited with the progress so far. We know that it's going to be small steps at a time."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Mike Nesgoda/Special to the TIMES NEWS Members of the 2011-12 Marian boys basketball team includes, front row from left, John Julian, Clay Brown, Ryan Karnish, Nick Kweder, Dylan Latham, Calvin Talbott, Anthony Agosti, Justin Bilka; back row, Eric Swankoski, Damian Richards, Jordan Weber, Zach Motil, Alden Whah, Luke Stawick, Anthony Pilla and Lukas Damian.

Last season, head coach John Patton stressed the importance of finding chemistry.

This year, Marian simply needs to find a way.

...And it won't be easy.

The Colts (20-6 last year and coming off back-to-back District 11 Championships) need to find a way to replace 87-percent of their scoring from last year, including the loss of four starters and their top six scorers.

They also need to find a way to replenish 68-percent of their three-point shooting, 84-percent of their rebounding and 97-percent of their blocked shots from a season ago.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Mike Nesgoda/Special to the TIMES NEWS Members of the 2011-12 Marian girls basketball team include, front row from left, Kelly Shober, Danielle Tristani, Kim Wilson; middle row, Lindsay Nemeth, Gabby Green, Sam Faust, Emily Sofranko, Bethany Schaud, Ashley Fannick; back row, head coach Paul Brutto, assistant coach Jeff Onushco, Kaysi McLaughlin, assistant coach Matt Murphy and assistant coach Vin Vella.

Four years ago, Marian relied on its height and considerable size advantage to capture the 2008 Class A State Championship.

This season, the only things than can be considered "big" on the Fillies roster are hopes and dreams.

However, for head coach Paul Brutto, that's not a bad thing, it's just part of the process.

Monday, December 5, 2011
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe boys basketball team members include, front row, from left, Robert Freeman, Dean Ciavarella, Mike Harleston, Ben Moore and PJ Johnson. Beck row, Darius Clark, Paul Joseph Gallagher Saba, Khaaliq Lynch, Conner Ennis and Jaquan Brown.

The Jim Thorpe boys' basketball team is dealing with the aftermath of its first losing season under head coach Brian Carroll.

A 6-16 record from a season ago left a mark within the program. It also brought a streak of seven straight seasons qualifying for the District 11 playoffs to an end.

Entering his fifth season with the program, Carroll believes he has an answer to help the Olympians rebound and start a new streak this season.