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Defense first for Jim Thorpe hoopsters

Following a season in which his team won 15 games and made it to the District 11 championship game, Jim Thorpe boys basketball coach Jason McElmoyle is excited about this year’s squad despite losing nine seniors to graduation.

Replacing Brendan Carroll, Chris Micciche, Matt Elmore, and Aaron Joyce, who combined to average 40 points per game, is difficult to replace for the fourth year head coach, but he strongly believes his current team will “make some noise” in the Schuylkill League.

“Despite having little or no varsity game experience, we feel many of our players this year are very seasoned from practicing against last year’s team and from playing summer ball,” said McElmoyle. “They are hungry for the game. Our practices have been intense and upbeat. Our guys have no problem diving face first onto the floor for loose balls. We see this group buying into our belief that playing good defense gives you the chance to win every night.

“We’re going to pressure the ball, and transition to score points off turnovers. Winning a 49-45 type of game will suit our style of play.”

McElmoyle has yet to designate a starting lineup out of eight or nine candidates, but the athleticism of Nick Rosahac, Nate Rosahac and Justin Marykwas dictates that those three will see ample time on the court. Nick at 6-4, Nate at 6-5 and Marykwas at 6-3 give the Olympians plenty of size, which should translate into opportunities for scoring points in the paint.

Others who should see playing of time are seniors Rudy Forman, Zach Searfoss and Chris Valdez, and junior Tyler Burak. McElmoyle is also excited about freshman Isaiah Spruill, who at 6-4 will be an inside presence.

“We like that we are under the radar of the teams that are picked to contend for the league title,” McElmoyle said. “Our guys have been displaying great knowledge of the game and they expect to win. What I also like is their unselfishness. They have a team mentality.”

The overall success of McElmoyle’s teams since he became head coach has been obvious. He took over a program that had won just five games in two years and since then, have posted 37 wins in his previous three seasons.

Another good sign of a healthy program is the interest from the school’s student athletes. This fall, a total of 90 boys tried out for the seventh and eighth grade, freshman, JV, and varsity teams.

“I’d like to give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches Terry McElmoyle, Ryan Hurley and Derick Reis, who put in the time and effort to help develop our players.”

On any given day, the weight room is filled with Jim Thorpe basketball players. In the summer, some from McElmoyle’s players will run cross country or prepare for the football season in the mornings and then go right to basketball later in the afternoon.

This commitment breeds a successful program and gives reason that this year’s Olympians will be a tough task for every opponent.

“Our players are very dedicated and practicing hard. We might start a different lineup every night,” McElmoyle said. “We believe we can be very competitive and quite possibly surprise the teams that are picked to finish at the top of our league.”

Members of the Jim Thorpe boys basketball team for the 2017-18 season include, front row from left, Tyler Burak, Rudy Forman, Chris Valdez, Zach Searfoss; middle row, Zahquil Farmer, Luis Valdez, Lucas Boyle, Justin Cannariato, Jeffrey Gorman; back row, Justin Marykwas, Isaiah Spruill, Nathan Rosahac, Nicholas Rosahac and Jason Scott. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS