Despite losses, goal the same for PV boys
picture courtesy of Flexer Photography Panther Valley boys basketball team members include, front row, from left, Pat Owens, Mike Horan, Jake Kusko, Matt Levitt, Mike Weng and Calagero Keo. Middle row, Kyle Ferryman, James Campbell, Jake Szczecina, Matt Hudicka, Chad Dubosky and Charles Moore. Back row, manager Marley Mikovich, Luke Stano, Brett Kerschner, John Taras, Steven Romanchik, Ethan Vermillion and manager Jess Weise.
Different team. Same expectations.
The Panther Valley boys basketball team will have a new look and a new style of play. But head coach Pat Crampsie hasn't changed his goals.
"You will see some differences in our team this year," said Crampsie. "They'll be a lot of new faces and we are going to have to adjust our style of play a little bit.
"But one thing we won't be adjusting is our goal of qualifying for the district playoffs. That will always be the goal as long as I'm coaching."
After going through an eight-year district playoff drought, Panther Valley has now qualified for the District 11 playoffs in three of the last four seasons.
In order to continue that positive program momentum this season, Crampsie and the Panthers will need to fill some gaping holes left by graduation.
The Panthers lost their top three scorers and rebounder from last year's team and five of their top seven scorers overall. The losses include their inside duo of 6-5 Brock Mitchell and 6-4 Nate Mathewson.
Mitchell and Mathewson were part of a long line of formidable post players that Panther Valley has had for almost a decade.
"We aren't going to be nearly as tall as we've been in the past," said Crampsie. "It's probably been eight, nine, maybe 10 years since we haven't had a big man inside.
"That means we are going to have to play a little differently this season."
Although this year's squad lacks the size of recent PV teams, it has some other strengths that Crampsie is excited about.
"I think we are quicker than we've been in the past and I think we are a better shooting team," said Crampsie. "Because of that, I think you will see us be a little more diverse than we have been in the past.
"Offensively, we'll need to rely on more movement and a better perimeter game. Defensively, we will be mixing things up a little more instead of playing primarily halfcourt zones."
If Panther Valley is going to make it back to districts this season, returning starters Steven Romanchick (6-2, sr.) and Jake Szczecina (6-0, jr.) will need to be the catalysts. Romanchick averaged 6.6 ppg. and Szczecina was second on the team with 29 three-pointers. No one else on the roster averaged more than two points or made more than three three-pointers.
"Steven and Jake have games that compliment each other very well," said Crampsie. "Steven is a slasher who can create shots and get to the basket. Jake was primarily a shooter last year and a good one. But this year, I expect him to be a scorer, not just a shooter."
Luke Stano (6-2, jr.) and Kyle Ferryman (5-7, jr.), who Crampsie said have been extremely consistent during preseason workouts and practices, should also have spots in the starting lineup.
The final starter will come from a group of players that include Brett Kershner (6-2, sr.), Jake Kusko (5-10, jr.), Ethan Vermillion (6-2, so.), Matt Levitt (5-10, sr.), Jon Taras (6-3, sr.) and Matt Hudicka (5-10, fr.). Kershner is a transfer from Lehighton while Taras is a first-year player.
The remainder of the varsity roster includes, James Campell (5-11, sr.), Justin Schuch (6-2, sr.), Pat Owens (5-5, jr.), Charles Nace (6-2, so.), Chad Dubosky (6-0, so.) and Cee Keo (5-9, so.).
"We have a lot of kids in new roles," said Crampsie. "Our goal is to get them settled into those roles as soon as possible.
"The sooner they get comfortable and confident in what they are doing, the better we will be."