Blue Bomber boys team in building mode
RICH GEORGE/Special to THE TIMES NEWS The Palmerton boys basketball team will include" Kneeing, from left, Spencer Shigo, Jerry Pereira, Dominic Shivone, Nick Frey and Zach Buck. Back row, same order, Alex Koma, Spencer Hay, Austin Luers, Brad Ehret, Mark Quinn, Logan Lesher and Matt Leaver.
Mick Stefanek is in his second year at the helm of the Palmerton boys basketball program and his main concern is moving things in the right direction.
Losing four starters from last year's 3-19 team, Stefanek has some fine young talent that he hopes will make his program a consistent and stable one.
"First of all, it's a process here to get this program going in the right direction," he said. "We're looking at this season as taking the next step in that process. We need a commitment, dedication and time from everyone involved in the program and if we get that from our players, I think good things can happen. It's just a matter of changing the mentality that has permeated this program over the last decade."
Tyler Svetik, Brett Snyder Kyle Ruch and Cody Geist, four starters on last year's team have graduated so Stefanek's first job is to find quality replacements.
Matt Leaver, a 6-0 senior guard is the only returning starter and along with Logan Lesher, a 6-1 junior and Mark Quinn, a 6-3 sophomore, saw the most varsity time last year.
"Matt (Leaver) saw a lot of time and he's going to be our point guard and our success on the offensive end will be determined on how well he plays and how well he runs our offense," said Stefanek. "Mark (Quinn) and Logan (Lesher) saw limited time but will start for us.
It's a new year with a new team that Stefanek hopes can achieve some success down the road.
Brad Ehret, a 6-4 senior and Alex Koma, a 6-0 senior have returned to the squad after taking a year off and Stefanek hopes they can help the team in the paint.
A couple of freshmen, Spencer Hay (6-3) and Zach Buck (5-11) will definitely be in the mix.
"Spencer will start and Zach has had a good pre-season so far," said Stefanek.
So the Bombers could be starting a senior, a junior, a sophomore and two freshmen out of the gate.
"Off the bench we'll have senior Austin Luers (6-1 forward), junior Nick Frey (6-0 guard), Spencer Shigo (5-5 guard) and Koma to name a few," he said.
Sophomores Jerry Pereira (5-10 guard) and Dominic Shivone (5-10 guard) add some real speed to the squad.
"We've changed a lot of things as far as our philosophy goes so there will be some new wrinkles and a different way of playing the game on both ends of the court," Stefanek added. "Offensively, we're going to allow our plays to be able to create. We're going to look to open up the court and make the other team play solid defense. Defensively we've been working on our man-to-man. The players have bought into it which is a key and we're looking to be as physical as possible or more physical this year than we were last year. I believe we have the players that can play that style of game."
In order for the Bombers to be successful, Stefanek wants to see them grow as a team and get better as a team. He isn't putting any number on wins and losses.
"I just want to see continued improvement from the Lehighton game to open the season through to our last game against Northern Lehigh," he said. "As long as our kids come to practice every day and play hard, good things will happen and we'll see that improvement.
"Ownership needs to be taken by our players and if they do that, we can start to change the trend of what's been Palmerton basketball over the last decade."
What stands out most to Stefanek is the willingness of his players to listen and want to get better.
"We haven't executed yet offensively so we have to get better individually and as a team to get where we want to be," Stefanek said.
The Bombers are young and inexperienced and are going to make mistakes. They just have to take that big step to turn things in the right direction.