High school hoop awards
Another basketball season has come and gone.
And while the season is still fresh in our minds, it's a good time to hand out some awards.
Below are some of our "unofficial" honors from the past year.
One other note: the boys and girls players of the year will be named at a later date.
Boys Team of the Year
Marian The Colts, coached by first-year mentor John Patton and led on the floor by point guard Chris Barletta, went 18-4 in the regular season and won the Schuylkill League Division 3 crown with an 11-2 mark. After falling in the Schuylkill playoffs to Pottsville, Marian defended its District 11 Class A title by defeating Mahanoy Area in the title game. Highlights of the season included four wins over the rival Golden Bears and a seven-game win streak to close the regular season.
Girls Team of the Year
Tamaqua The Lady Raiders had one of the most memorable seasons in their long history. Led on the court by All-State candidate and Bucknell recruit Amy Zehner, Tamaqua posted an undefeated 22-0 regular season. The Raiders continued to stay unbeaten while winning the Schuylkill League title, defeating Nativity and Tri-Valley. The record remained perfect during the District 11 Class AAA playoffs, where they knocked off Jim Thorpe, Southern Lehigh and Central Catholic to earn their third straight district crown. After an opening round win over Scranton Prep in state play, Joe Berezwick's club finished at 28-1 after falling to Oley Valley.
Coach of the Year
Joe Berezwick, Tamaqua girls There are quite a few candidates that could have won this award. John Patton took a Marian boys team with only one starter back and won a district title in his first season as head coach. Jeff Miller, also in his first year and also with only one starter back, led the Northern Lehigh boys to a 15-win season and a berth in districts. Rob Kovac guided a still-young Jim Thorpe girls squad to an outstanding 16-win campaign and reached the postseason for the first time since 2002. Dave Oertner's Northern Lehigh girls topped 20 wins again and returned to the state playoffs. Nadia Gauronsky helped the Pleasant Valley girls improve from six wins a year ago to 18 this past season and also earned a league title. Despite all those accomplishments, it's hard to argue with perfection and that's what Berezwick's Lady Raiders did during the regular season, the league playoffs and districts. Every game, Tamaqua had a bullseye on its back and for 28 straight times they were able to fend off an opponent and come away with a victory.
Best Newcomer of the Year
Caleb Johnson, Northern Lehigh The sophomore stepped into the Bulldogs' starting lineup and became an immediate impact player. The 6-5 forward/center played all 23 games, scored in double figures nine times and averaged 9.3 points per game in helping Northern Lehigh post a 15-8 record. After scoring just 19 points in 16 games in his freshman season, Johnson provided matchup problems for other teams.
Best Game of the Year
Tamaqua 46, Central Catholic 42, OT (March 5) The Vikettes jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the District 11 Class AAA girls championship game but Tamaqua used an 8-0 run to gain the advantage. The two clubs battled back-and-forth throughout the second half and were tied three times in the closing minutes. Amy Zehner hit a runner to start overtime and Maria Streisel followed with a steal and three-point play to put the Blue and White ahead for good. After having lost to ACC in the district playoffs on four occassions since 2000, the Raiders finally cleared that hurdle and claimed a trophy in the process.
Best Finish of the Year
Panther Valley 36, North Schuylkill 34 (Jan. 28) Desperate for a win to keep its district playoff hopes alive, Panther Valley found itself tied with North Schuylkill in the closing seconds of a Schuylkill League Division 1 contest. The Panthers' Nate Mathewson knotted the game at 34-34 with a shot in the lane with 35 seconds to play. After the Spartans called a timeout, they ran the clock down until PV fouled. Not in the bonus, North Schuylkill was forced to inbound the ball. On the inbounds, the ball got knocked away and it ended up in the hands of Joe Revell. After deciding not to pass the ball, Revell dribbled the length of the floor and layed the ball in just before the buzzer sounded.