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Indians optimistic that program is on upswing

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    Members of the Lehighton boys basketball team this season include, front row from left, Cameron Knappenberger, Noah Wolverton, Ethan Lutz, Carter Strauss, Maximus Hoffman, Nader Beatty; middle row, Ben Schatz, Zack Hunsicker, Josh Smith, Jack Lorenz, Brayden Lutz; back row, assistant coach Will White, head coach Trevor Miller, Colby Nash, Mason Costenbader, Devon Haydt, Hunter Crum, assistant coach Rick Hunsicker and assistant coach Steve Strauss. PHOTO COURTESTY OF RICH SMITH

Published December 05. 2019 11:28AM

Trevor Miller understood that success wasn’t going to happen overnight.

The Lehighton boys basketball coach knew that patience and improvement would have to be the buzz words during his first two years at the Indians’ helm.

“The last few years our goal has been to build the program,” Miller said. “Sure, we wanted to win games as we were doing it, but we also knew that it might take time to get the program to where we eventually wanted it to be.”

As Miller begins his third year in charge, he’s optimistic that things are beginning to fall into place.

“This is the most talented group I’ve had here,” he said. “The guys are really buying into what we want to do and how we want to do it.

“We have a solid core of returning starters, and we have some younger kids in the program that have a chance to be really good. We’re excited about the direction we’re heading.”

The Indians went from three wins in Miller’s first year as head coach to six wins last season.

“We doubled our wins last season, and I think that’s possible again,” said Miller. “One of our goals is qualifying for districts, and doubling our win total again this year would accomplish that.”

One of the main reasons for the optimism around the program is the return of three players — Ben Schatz (6-3, senior), Zack Hunsicker (6-3, junior), and Devon Haydt (6-2, junior) — who were regulars in the starting lineup most of last season, plus Carter Strauss (5-9, junior), who broke into the starting lineup part way through the campaign.

Hunsicker was the team’s leading scorer at 10.75 points a game last season, while Schatz and Haydt both averaged around six points per contest.

“We have three players in Zack, Ben and Devon who I feel are all capable of leading us in scoring any (given) night,” said Miller. “All three of them have improved their games in the offseason.

“They also bring a variety of skills that, depending on the defense we are facing and the matchups, any one of them could be the go-to guy on a particular night.”

Strauss, Josh Smith (6-1, senior), Jack Lorenz (6-0, sophomore) and Nader Beatty (6-3, senior) will all see quality playing time and are in the mix to be in the starting lineup as well.

Others who could see action are Brayden Lutz (5-10, sophomore), Colby Nash (6-6, senior), Noah Wolverton (5-9, senior) and Richard Yturrino (6-3, junior).

“We have a lot of kids in the 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 range who all run the floor well,” said Miller. “So, I think we can create some matchup advantages offensively.

“Defensively, we plan to be versatile. We’re hoping to do a little bit of everything ... some pressing, some halfcourt traps, some zone, but our goal is to be good enough with our man-to-man to make that our primary defense this season. I definitely think that could happen because I like the improvement we’re showing playing it.”

Miller said one of the keys to this year’s success will be how quickly everyone learns and develops into their roles.

“We are going to need Hunsicker, Schatz and Haydt to score for us,” Miller said. “They are all going to need to improve on their offensive numbers from last year, and I don’t think there is any doubt they will do that.

“We will then need a couple other guys to earn starting spots, or develop as players who can spark us off the bench. Finally, we need a few players — maybe some of our younger kids — to keep developing and improving, and give us the depth we need for a solid rotation.”

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