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Crampsie recalls 2010 playoff win

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Times News will be running a series of stories asking area coaches and athletic directors to recall their “Most Memorable” sporting event. Today’s Most Memorable moment comes from Panther Valley boys basketball coach Pat Crampsie.)

By Emmett McCall


No one in Panther Valley basketball history has coached more games or had more victories than Pat Crampsie.

So picking out one game as his “Most Memorable” requires a deep dive through 18 years as a head coach and hundreds of possibilities.

Recent event bias, combined with the magnitude of the achievements, would make this season’s District 11 championship victory over Notre Dame and PIAA State playoff victory over Dobbins Tech easy choices.

But since both those events are just weeks old, Crampsie decided to talk about one of his 157 career victories that might not be as obvious.

“The postseason run that this year’s team just completed would be pretty hard not to pick as the most memorable moment of my coaching career,” Crampsie said. “But there has been so much written recently about what this year’s team has accomplished, I thought I would pick out another moment that might not have been as celebrated as this year’s accomplishments, but was extremely important to our program.”

Crampsie’s choice as his most memorable game – outside of this past month – was a 2010 District 11 opening round playoff game against North Schuylkill.

The game had everything you could want from a “Most Memorable” selection. As a matter of fact, it played out like a Hollywood script.

There was:

• Drama (the game went to double overtime).

• Adversity (Logan Stano, the Panthers’ top player fouled out).

• An unlikely hero (Kyle Picht, who averaged just 3.17 points a game during the season, came up with huge scoring plays in both the first and second overtime)

• A new star born (with top players Stano and Zach Stanko battling foul trouble most of the game, sophomore Brock Mitchell recorded a double-double to keep PV in it)

• A happy ending (the Panthers victory was their first in District 11 play in 20 years)

“We had qualified for Districts in 2009 and lost our opening game to a really good Southern Lehigh team that went on to win the district title,” recalled Crampsie. “But we lost three starters (Ryan Blasko, Erick Trabel and Betjullah Mehmeti) and a key reserve (Marques Middleton) from that team.

“Because of those losses, the 2010 team wasn’t projected to do much coming into the season. But we had a couple of seniors in Zach (Stanko) and Logan (Stano) who really stepped up, we had a sophomore in Brock (Mitchell) who exceeded all expectations, we had outstanding role players in Kyle (Picht) and Damian (Lewis), and we had young reserves in Thad (Ogozalek) and Joe (Revell) who played key roles. “

The combination produced a surprising successful 13-9 regular season record despite competing in the always formidable Schuylkill League Division 1. It also earned PV the ninth seed in the District 11 Class 3A playoffs.

In the opening round of districts, the Panthers had to play on the home court of No. 8 seed North Schuylkill.

“North Schuylkill had won the Schuylkill League championship the year before and had four starters returning,” said Crampsie about the challenge that awaited his team.

Crampsie reeled off details of the game like it happened yesterday.

“With Stano and Stanko, our top two players, battling foul trouble, Brock stepped up and had a huge game for us,” said Crampsie about Mitchell’s 22-point, 11-rebound performance. “I also remember Kyle (Picht) coming up with a couple of critical plays.

“In the first overtime, we fell behind by six points, but we rallied and Kyle hit a late three to tie the game,” Crampsie recalled. “He then added a three-point play in the second OT for what proved to be the winning points.”

The game story by retired Sports Editor Ed Hedes that appeared in the following day’s Times News backs Cramspie’s account of the game. It also highlighted a late defensive play when Lewis and Mitchell combined to steal the ball after North Schuylkill had called a timeout trailing by a point with :11 remaining in the second OT.

That defensive stop preserved the 50-49 Panther Valley victory.

The Panthers lost their next game to eventual District 11 champ Pottsville. But Crampsie remembers that North Schuylkill victory as one that changed the attitude and expectations of the entire program moving forward.

“I think of that win as a program changer,” said Crampsie. “I think the kids on that team and throughout the entire program saw that despite tough graduation losses and low expectations from the outside, anything was possible - and that we could be a postseason team on a consistent basis.

“We were actually a 2A team playing in Class 3A at the time (PV had 2A enrollment numbers, but was incorrectly classified and then had its appeal denied by the PIAA) but the kids didn’t use that as an excuse. That team proved that regardless of circumstances, the expectations from within the program shouldn’t change - and that it was possible to meet those expectations with hard work and belief in yourself.”

Panther Valley's Kyle Picht (25) drives the lane against North Schuylkill during their district playoff game on Feb. 23, 2010. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
Panther Valley head basketball coach Pat Crampsie talks to his team during the 2008-09 season. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO