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On This Date (Aug. 1, 2004): Lehighton cagers win Carbon tourney

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to many sports, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next edition’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from Aug. 1, 2004).

By Emmett McCall


Just two weeks after being named head boys basketball coach at Lehighton High School and just a couple of days after meeting his new team for the first time, Caszy Kosciolek had plenty to smile about.

Sunday afternoon at Jim Thorpe High School, Kosciolek made his Lehighton coaching debut a successful one as his Indians captured the second annual Carbon County Summer Basketball Tournament.

Lehighton swept through the five-team, double-elimination tourney unbeaten, routing host Jim Thorpe, 52-32, in the championship game.

“I’m very happy. I really liked the mind-set of our kids today,” said Kosciolek. “They played hard the entire day.

“I’m also excited about the fact that we had 15 kids here today. That shows a tremendous amount of dedication, which is very encouraging for me as a new coach. All 15 of the kids played and made contributions toward the tournament championship.”

Making the biggest contribution during the title game were Tyler Kistler, who scored 15 points, and Danny Miller, who scored 14 points and had a double-digit performance on the boards.

The Indians used a fullcourt press to jump out to an 11-1 lead. They led 31-19 at halftime and were never challenged after that.

“I met with our players for the first time on Friday night and we held an open gym after the meeting,” said Kosciolek. “Then we got together Saturday to put in a few offenses and defenses for this tournament.

“Considering those facts, I thought we executed pretty well at both ends of the court.”

For Jim Thorpe, which was the defending tourney champ, there were some bright spots as well.

“I thought our kids gave a tremendous effort,” said head coach Damian Fritz, who is in his first year with the Olympians after coaching at Lehighton last year. “We were missing three starters (including standout point guard Jason Figura), but the kids that were here played hard.

Steve Haldeman led the Olympians, who were 2-2 on the day, with nine points in the title game. Jason Calcano added eight points and also won the First Annual Phil “Pip” Rader Award as the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player.

Both coaches gave the tournament high marks.

“It’s a good way to go into the fall,” said Kosciolek. “I really like the idea of having this tournament. It brings a lot of the area teams together and it’s a great way to close out the summer schedule.”

Fritz added, “It was a good day of basketball for area teams and their fans. I’d like to congratulate Lehighton on winning the tournament and also compliment Palmerton, Marian and Panther Valley on their performances. All five teams played hard.

“A lot of teams we had here played in different summer leagues and different tournaments, so it was nice to get them all together today to play against each other.”

Lehighton was crowned champions of the 2004 Carbon County Summer Basketball Tournament after defeating Jim Thorpe in the finals. TN FILE PHOTO