Trojan Basketball

Trojan Basketball

2017 Times Leader Boys Basketball All-Stars

Luke Butczynski Nanticoke Forward, Senior

Excellent athlete who could have been plugged into any position and succeeded. … Could shoot from the inside and out, rebound, play defense and handle the ball. … Averaged 13 points to pace the Trojans to the state playoffs. … Fired in 58 3-point field goals and put on a display from beyond the arc in the state playoffs.

Times Leader Second Team All-Star
Nate Kreitzer`Nanticoke`Guard`Sophomore.

The Citizens' Voice Boys Basketball All-Stars

Nate Kreitzer

School: Nanticoke Area
Year: SophomorePosition: Guard
The Trojans point guard played his best in the district and state playoffs, averaging 15.8 points in seven postseason games. On the season, he averaged 12.1 ppg with a league-best 66 3-pointers.

Luke Butczynski
School: Nanticoke Area
Year: Senior
Position: Forward
The leading scorer — 13.0 ppg — for the PIAA Class 4A semifinalist Trojans. Used his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage inside, while making 58 3-pointers from the outside.

Imhotep Charter tops Nanticoke Area
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Trailing by 12 points, shooting poorly from the perimeter and watching its state championship chances slip away, Nanticoke Area turned to Justin Casey
He’s listed at 6-foot-5. He’s all-state in football. He’s the basketball team’s toughest player.
Casey embodied the toughness the Trojans strive for in that moment in the second quarter, driving to the rim unafraid against a pair of players listed at 6-6 and 6-7, drawing contact and making the shot
“These guys are tough Nanticoke kids,” said Trojans head coach John Beggs. “Never intimidated by anything.”
While the Trojans never backed down from Imhotep Charter on Tuesday night, the nationally ranked Panthers were simply a better team, dominating in all facets en route to a 60-23 win in the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball semifinals at Freedom High School
The victory sends Imhotep Charter — USA Today’s No. 6 team in the country — into Saturday’s 2 p.m. state final at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Panthers will play District 10 champion Strong Vincent (27-3), a 73-64 winner against Quaker Valley
The loss ends the season of Nanticoke Area (21-8), a team that entered its first state tournament since 2003 as District 2’s No. 3 seed — and exited as the last remaining basketball team from the Wyoming Valley Conference.
“We were happy with what we accomplished this year, how far we got,” said senior guard Rich Wiaterowski. “We would have loved to make it to the next round and win a state medal. But we were just very happy how we did and how far we got. I’m very proud of this team and what we accomplished this year.
While Nanticoke Area senior Luke Butczynski scored six of his team-high seven points in the first quarter, Imhotep Charter jumped out to a 15-8 lead after one.
Panthers point guard and Rhode Island recruit Daron Russell, who scored a game-high 22 points, provided an early highlight by passing to Donta Scott for an alley-oop
Casey’s aforementioned score in the paint came at what could have been a critical time, cutting Imhotep Charter’s lead to 21-11 early in the second quarter.
But Imhotep Charter answered immediately by scoring 14 points on its next five possessions, capped by a Bernard Lightsey 3-pointer to make it 35-14 with 1:34 left in the half
Nanticoke Area never again got within 10 points.
“It was running up quick,” said Nanticoke Area senior Zack Cardone. “They kept making tough, deep shots and there was just nothing we could do about it. They moved the ball well and it was tough to defend.
Imhotep Charter led, 39-15, at halftime, then scored the first 11 points of the third quarter.
“They were as good as we thought they were,” Wiaterowski said
Nanticoke Area’s Alec Divers stopped the bleeding temporarily with a hook shot at 2:05, breaking Imhotep Charter’s 11-0 run.
Cody Piestrak and Nate Kreitzer each hit 3s in the final period, as it was the only quarter in which Nanticoke Area outscored Imhotep Charter, 6-3
The loss ends the high school careers of seven Trojans seniors.
“I was a little emotional at the end — not because of the wins and losses. As a coach, you could handle those and we ran into a team that was better than us,” said fourth-year head coach Beggs. “But the relationships established and the Trojan pride that these guys played with, it’s just tough to see them walk off the floor in that uniform for the last time.”

Nanticoke Area’s magical run ends in state semifinal

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The pivotal moment for Nanticoke Area came with just about five minutes to play Tuesday night
Nationally ranked Imhotep Charter already had the game well in hand, reaching a 40-point lead to enact the mercy rule and a running clock. There was only one thing left for Nanticoke Area to do at Bethlehem Freedom High School.
One by one, Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs pulled his seniors to let them hear one final cheer from the partisan crowd as Imhotep eventually left with a 60-23 victory and a spot in the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball championship game
“I was a little emotional at the end, not because of the wins and losses,” Beggs said. “As a coach you can handle those and we ran into a team that was better than us. But the relationships you establish and the Trojan pride these guys played with, it was just tough to see them walk off the floor in that uniform for the last time.
“That’s why we brought each one off individually, give the Trojan faithful a chance to show their appreciation for these guys and what they’ve accomplished this season and their entire basketball career.
Nanticoke Area (21-8) didn’t get a district title, finishing third in the District 2 playoffs. The Trojans were the last Wyoming Valley Conference team standing and advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1985.
“We were happy with what we accomplished this year and how far we got,” said guard Rich Wiaterowski, one of six seniors in the regular rotation. “We would have loved to make it to the next round and win a state medal, but we were just very happy how we did and how far we got. I’m very proud of this team and what we accomplished this year.
District 12 champion Imhotep (30-2), ranked sixth nationally by USA Today, will go for its fifth state championship on Saturday against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between D7 runner-up Quaker Valley (25-3) and D10 champion Erie Strong Vincent (27-3).
Nanticoke Area’s strategy was to control the ball and limit turnovers. It worked somewhat in the first quarter as senior Luke Butczynski knocked down a couple of 3-pointers to keep the Trojans within shouting distance of Imhotep
There was a problem.
“The problem was they didn’t miss,” Beggs said
Imhotep wasn’t flawless by any means in the first quarter. Guard Daron Russell, though, was. The Rhode Island recruit scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the opening period to give the Panthers a 15-8 lead.
Russell continued his assault in the second quarter as did Bernard Lightly. Both Panthers had two 3-pointers as the points started piling up for Imhotep. Dahmir Bishop ended the half with a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound for a 39-5 advantage
Thing got worse in the third period as Alec Divers’ floater at 2:11 was the only Nanticoke Area basket. Imhotep’s talent and supreme depth took over so much that South Carolina recruit Dave Beatty barely made a dent in the scorebook. But his drive to the hoop — part of his quiet four-point night — gave Imhotep a 57-17 to end the third and started the mercy rule.
“It was just really tough competition,” Nanticoke Area senior guard Zack Cardone said. “We knew what was coming. They’re a great team, a team we’ve never seen before
“That was probably one of the best teams Nanticoke has ever played. But I’m proud of our guys for everything we’ve done over the season. I couldn’t ask for a better team to play with in my four years.”

Nanticoke Area advances to states semifinals
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As that big lead was whittled to two points, the Nanticoke Area Trojans went back to what gave them the advantage Sunday afternoon.
Cody Piestrak opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and closed out a 10-3 run with another as Nanticoke Area defeated West Philadelphia 78-62 in a PIAA Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinal game at Bethlehem Freedom High School
Piestrak scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Nanticoke Area outscored West Philly 30-17 in the final period. He had 12 points in the fourth quarter in an opening-round win against Bethlehem Catholic, also at Freedom.
“I guess it’s just the gym. I don’t know,” Piestrak said
Sophomore guard Nate Kreitzer also scored 20 for Nanticoke Area.
District 2 third seed Nanticoke Area (21-7) will play D12 champion Imhotep Charter (29-2) on Tuesday in the semifinals at a site and time to be determined. Imhotep defeated D12 third seed Audenried 70-51 Sunday. The 3A state championship game is 2 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. D12 fourth seed West Philly ended its campaign at 15-10
Nanticoke Area led before the game clock even started. West Philly was hit with a technical foul for a dunk in pregame warmups. Nate Kreitzer hit the first of two free throws to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
Then came the barrage of 3-pointers from Nanticoke Area. Luke Butczynski hit his first five attempts from behind the arc. Piestrak added another — Nanticoke Area’s fifth 3-pointer in a row — for a 16-3 lead midway through the first quarter
“I hit my first one, then the next one came,” said Butczynski, who scored 15 of his 18 points in the first quarter. “I knew I was going to be hot for this game, so I waited for my guys to get me the ball.”
Kreitzer finished off the first eight minutes with a 3-pointer for a 26-12 Nanticoke Area lead. The Trojans shot 9 of 14 fom the field in the period
“It gave everybody confidence right off the bat,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “Luke Butczynski took the bull by the horns and it showed we weren’t going to back down.”
The Trojans cooled off in the second quarter and didn’t hit a shot until Kreitzer’s drive at 4:25. West Philly used the lull to make progress on the double-digit deficit. The Speedboys, though, continued to struggle from the field. After shooting 5 of 16 in the first quarter, they followed with a 4 of 16 performance in the second
West Philly chipped away, cutting the deficit to 47-45 on a 3-pointer by Aaron Harrison to end the third quarter. Piestrak, though, got Nanticoke Area out of its funk with a 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter. The Trojans pulled away with some easy baskets down the stretch.

NOTES: Nanticoke Area advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals three times in the 1990s — 1992, 1995 and 1996. … The program advanced to a state championship game once in the post-merger (mid-1960s) era when it lost to Erie Strong Vincent in the 3A title game 70-53 in 1985. … Prior to this season, Nanticoke Area’s last appearance in the state playoffs was in 2003. … Imhotep has won four state championships. The Panthers won the 2A title three times (2009, 2011, 2012) and the 3A crown once (2013). Since Philadelphia (District 12) joined the PIAA in the 2005-06 school year, it has won 21 of 44 boys basketball state championships.

PIAA basketball: Nanticoke Area pulls away to quarterfinal victory
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

The Nanticoke Area Trojans were back at Freedom High School on Sunday like they had never left
Eight days after scoring 30 fourth-quarter points in an incredible comeback victory against Bethlehem Catholic, the Trojans returned to score 26 first-quarter points against West Philadelphia.
While Nanticoke Area cooled off in the second and third quarters, the Trojans regained peak form late, scoring 31 fourth-quarter points and winning, 78-62, in the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinals
“We’ve been playing basketball for a long time, and it just feels great that we could actually experience this as a team,” said senior guard/forward Cody Piestrak, who tied with Nate Kreitzer for a game-high 20 points.
As the only Wyoming Valley Conference basketball team remaining in the state playoffs, Nanticoke Area will play Imhotep Charter (29-2) in Tuesday’s semifinals at a site and time to be announced. The winner will play for the state championship
At a time when any loss would result in the last game of his high school career, senior forward Luke Butczynski had an incredible start Sunday.
Butczynski peppered the perimeter, knocking down his first five 3-pointers in the first quarter. He single-handedly scored 12 straight points with 3s from the top of the key, left corner, left wing and right corner, giving Nanticoke Area a 13-3 lead
“Luke Butczynski took the bull by the horns early, and it showed that we weren’t going to back down,” said head coach John Beggs. “He caught fire, and then everybody got excited and the fans got excited. So that was a great start.”
At the end of the first quarter, Nanticoke Area led, 26-12
But West Philadelphia crept back into the game, outscoring Nanticoke Area 13-11 and 20-10 in the second and third quarters, respectively.
The Speedboys (15-10), who defeated GAR in the second round, played an excellent pressure defense
Dymeir Shackelford keyed the comeback by scoring 15 points on five 3s, while also recording a team-high four of West Philadelphia’s 11 steals.
“They were really fast,” Butczynski said. “Even when our guys were open, they weren’t actually open because they were coming right behind our open guys.
Butczynski compared West Philadelphia’s intense defense to that of Scranton Prep, a team that defeated Nanticoke Area, 72-66, in double overtime in the District 2 semifinals.
Aaron Harrison’s buzzer-beating and open 3 at the end of the third for West Philadelphia pulled the Speedboys within two points, 47-45
While West Philadelphia came close, it never regained the lead, however, as its only advantage all game was a 3-1 lead in the beginning.
Piestrak started the fourth quarter with an open 3, followed by a Kreitzer transition layup to go up 52-45
Moments later, Piestrak hit a left-corner 3 to go up, 57-48, with 5:50 to go. After a West Philadelphia free throw, Kreitzer hit a short, running jumper and-one to regain a double-digit lead of 60-49.
After being on its heels much of the third quarter, Nanticoke Area had found a way to beat the press, swinging momentum all the way back in its favor
The sophomore point guard, Kreitzer, had a lot to do with that, seemingly always finding the open shooter on a night when Nanticoke Area showcased excellent ball movement when things were going right.
“(West Philadelphia is) just super fast and when they’re faster than you, they’re going to catch you from behind,” Beggs said. “So, Nate had to make some quick decisions — quicker than he usually has to make it — and he made all the right decisions. He pushed the ball up the floor, got layups; we’re confident with every decision he makes. And his big guys finished for him, which was great.
Justin Casey had seven points and seven rebounds for Nanticoke Area, while Trahjan Krupinski added eight points and nine boards.

PIAA basketball: Kreitzer directs Nanticoke Area to quarters
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Sophomore point guard Nate Kreitzer had a fine regular season in his first year starting for the Nanticoke Area Trojans.
After averaging 10.9 points per game in the regular season, Kreitzer has taken his game to another level in the playoffs.
He’s helped lead Nanticoke Area (20-7) — the last-standing Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball team — into a PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal 5 p.m. tonight against West Philadelphia at Freedom High School in Bethlehem.
When watching Nanticoke Area play, it’s obvious Kreitzer has taken a floor general type of leadership with the Trojans, something that head coach John Beggs said is “very rare” for an underclassman to be capable of doing.
“Nate’s a special player and he plays basketball year-round, so he commits himself to basketball,” said Beggs, adding that Kreitzer reminds him of Luke Malishchak, a former Nanticoke Area point guard who went on to play for Division III Moravian and the New York Nationals. “He has passion for the game and he has the respect of his teammates. As coaches, we trust his decisions on the floor.”
After a third-place finish in WVC Division 2, Nanticoke Area won two of three District 2 playoff games to earn itself a spot in the state tournament.
Kreitzer scored 53 points (17.6 ppg) in the district playoffs, then added 32 more (16.0 ppg) in his first two state playoff games.
Minutes are hard to come by at the varsity level, which is why Kreitzer and several other first-year starters had to wait their turn and sharpen their skills with the Ed Lukowski-coached junior varsity team.
“They were good players; they just had to wait for their opportunity,” Beggs said. “A lot of these guys were JV guys who keep getting better every game and every year and, now, they’re major contributors.”
Center Justin Casey and forward Luke Butczynski are the only returning starters, as Nanticoke Area graduated three starters in the Class of 2016.
Casey and Butczynski’s presence inside has been paramount in Nanticoke Area’s success, while sophomore Trahjan Krupinski has helped in the effort as well.
In all, though, Beggs said rebounding has been a team effort.
“We try to rebound five guys, we try to do it collectively as a unit,” Beggs said. “Everybody has to pitch in and do the dirty work.”
Tonight’s opponent, West Philadelphia, reached the quarterfinals by beating GAR 74-60 on Friday.
The Grenadiers did have a 22-11 lead, but it slipped away when West Philadelphia’s pressure defense got the best of them.
“They look very athletic and they play great defense and they look like they can shoot it well, from the film I saw,” Beggs said.
After playing its second-round game at Parkland, Nanticoke Area tonight returns to Freedom High School, where it upset District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic in the first round.
“We take our basketball seriously here at Nanticoke, and I know that playing basketball at Nanticoke isn’t easy,” Beggs said. “These guys are fully invested and fully committed. ... Playing in big games — like we’ve been — in some of these venues that we’ve been playing in is the reward for their hard work.”

Nanticoke Area reaches boys state basketball quarterfinals
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Ever since they can remember, the Nanticoke Trojans had a vision.
And by banding together, they came a little closer to turning a childhood fantasy into reality.
Luke Butczynski scored a team-high 18 points, Justin Casey and Trahjan Krupinski played big on the boards Friday and the Trojans used a strong second half to creep away from Conwell-Egan, 62-54, in a PIAA Class 4A boys basketball second-round game at Parkland High School.
“We grew up saying we’re going to win the state championship,” Butczynski said. “And I’m not saying that. But we’re going to try and keep it going.”
The Trojans entered the state tournament after winning the District 2 third-place game, captured their PIAA opener last weekend and now beat a quick and solid Conwell-Egan team in the second round — all as an underdog.
The run took Nanticoke on a trip into its storied past. The Trojans will face West Philadelphia, which beat GAR 74-60 Friday night, in a quarterfinal game Sunday. A Nanticoke boys basketball team hasn’t advanced this far since 1996.
“We weren’t even born, actually,” Butczynski said. “It’s an accomplishment.”
Nate Kreitzer got things started early for the Trojans, scoring 10 of his 17 points in the opening quarter to get Nanticoke out to a 14-10 lead.
Casey took over from there, owning the inside with six rebounds and seven of his 14 points in a second quarter as Nanticoke matched Conwell-Egan’s fast pace and smooth scoring almost to the end of the first half.
Then, Kreitzer hit a diving shot between two defenders at the second-quarter buzzer, sending the Trojans into halftime holding a 28-26 lead.
“That’s just a big-time play for a sophomore in this atmosphere,” said Nanticoke coach John Beggs, a 3-point marksman from the Trojans’ playoff teams of the late 1980s. “Guys were getting to the basket early. The effort’s been great all year. We’re just playing against teams that are extremely tough.”
The Trojans stood up to the task, though.
Butczynski hit five points in the second quarter, then really got going in the third.
He buried two 3-point goals to finish with three for the game, including a game changer with 2:49 remaining in the period to put Nanticoke up by eight. Butczynski was also key in breaking a trapping Conwell-Egan press, and converted seven foul shots — including five of six in the final quarter to help the Trojans put the game away.
“Actually, I’ve been in a slump,” Butczynski said. “At the shoot around (Friday), I worked on my shot. We knew this (Conwell-Egan) team was good. We knew what they had.
“They had a lot of talent. They’re just a very good team and very fast. We just had to stick together,” he said.
Krupinski kept sticking his 6-foot-4 frame in the middle, and it kept paying off for Nanticoke.
He pulled down three critical defensive rebounds to keep Conwell-Egan from tying the game, then hit a three-point play with 4:40 remaining to give the Trojans a five-point lead.
“Trah’s played great the last three or four games,” Beggs said. “He’s been really, really stepping up.”
Kreitzer stepped to the foul line to add five more foul shots in the final period, including two that gave the Trojans a nine-point lead and essentially iced the game with 43 seconds to go.
“To do this, it’s been a long time since Nanticoke’s been in this situation,” Beggs said.

PIAA Boys Basketball: Nanticoke Area advances to quarterfinals
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After needing to win a play-in game just to qualify for the state tournament, Nanticoke Area is certainly making the most of its appearance.
On Saturday, the Trojans eliminated Bethlehem Catholic to advance to the second round, which was ultimately delayed until Friday night thanks to winter storm Stella.
If the Trojans were worried about any type of rust from the extended time away from the gym, it certainly didn’t show.
Nate Kreitzer made two huge first-quarter 3-pointers, and Justin Casey was a major factor on the boards on both ends of the floor as the Trojans eliminated Conwell-Egan, 62-54 at Parkland High School.
The win sends Nanticoke Area into the quarterfinal round, where it will face West Philadelphia on Sunday at a site and time to be announced.
“The effort has been great all year, just like last Saturday, we have been playing against teams that are extremely tough,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said.
The Trojans won three of the four quarters on Friday night and got some big baskets along the way to keep the momentum on their side.
There were Kreitzer’s 3-pointers in the first quarter as part of his 10 points in the period that helped allow the Trojans to set the tone. Then Casey not only rebounded with the Conwell-Egan big men, but added seven second-quarter points to help the Trojans grab a 28-26 lead at the half.
“Our guards were pitching in early (rebounding), guys were getting to the ball,” Beggs said. “We put a bigger lineup in when we got the lead. That was our plan, rebound like men. Justin got to the open spots and finished. We didn’t shoot as many 3s because of their pressure, but we were able to finish at the rim with guys making some creative passes.”
Nanticoke Area led by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but Conwell-Egan’s Patrick Robinson hit a long 3-pointer to trim it to five with 22 seconds left. Nanticoke Area’s Zack Cardone delivered a momentum-swinging bucket as time expired in the third, when he skied through the line to grab a missed shot and converted the rebound, just beating the buzzer to move the lead back to seven.
While Kreitzer and Casey were handling most of the scoring the first half, Luke Butczynski took over in the second, scoring 13 of his 18 points, with seven coming from the foul line and the other six on a pair of third-quarter 3-pointers.
Not only was Butczynski scoring, he was handling the ball at the top of the Conwell-Egan pressure, hitting the open man and helping set up the offense in the front court.
“He gives us options when he brings the ball up the court,” Beggs said. “He makes good decisions with the ball. His overall game is good. Passing and shooting is just part of it. Guys just being strong with the ball, we were able to create contact at the perimeter and we did a good job on the (foul) line.”
Nanticoke Area went 14 of 19 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and was 16 of 21 combined in the second half.
“In the (state) play-in game against Meyers, we bounced back after the Scranton Prep loss and showed resiliency,” Beggs said. “It has been a long time since Nanticoke has been in this situation. It talks a lot about our character.”


PIAA boys basketball: Nanticoke Area overcomes deficit to advance
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, John Beggs played point guard for Nanticoke Area when it upset District 1 champion Pottstown in the state playoffs.
As Beggs recalls it, Pottstown was “the beast of the east,” ranked No. 2 in the state.
“We still talk about that game like it was yesterday,” Beggs said.
Now their head coach, Beggs believes the current group of Trojans on Saturday made a memory that will last a lifetime.
Fighting back from a game-high 12-point deficit at the end of the third quarter, Nanticoke Area defeated District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic, 58-56, in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A boys basketball playoffs at Freedom High School.
Cody Piestrak scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, while Nate Kreitzer had a team-high 15 points with the win-clinching free throws and steal at the end of the game.
“This is going to be their moment. This is going to be their victory that they’ll remember forever,” Beggs said. “We’re not done yet, and we’re still excited about what happens next.
“I’m just happy I was there then, and I’m thrilled I’m here now.”
In its first state playoff appearance since 2003, Nanticoke Area (19-7) advances to play District 12 runner-up Conwell-Egan on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Conwell-Egan was an 81-59 winner against Saucon Valley.
Bethlehem Catholic (21-7) went into halftime Saturday with a 27-22 lead after making two free throws on a last-second foul.
“When we were down by five, we came in real excited because these guys have been beating teams by 30 or 28 lately,” Beggs said. “We thought if we could get the game close in the fourth quarter, that we would stick together and make the plays. That’s exactly what happened.”
Becahi center Ryan Young turned in a great performance, scoring 11 points with 18 rebounds. He and William Melson scored five points each in the third quarter, pushing Becahi’s lead to 40-28.
But Nanticoke Area clawed back chunk by chunk.
With 4:01 remaining, Piestrak hit a layup-and-one. Moments later, he knocked down a 3 and suddenly it was 49-45 with 3:33 to play.
After a Becahi layup, Piestrak hit another 3 and then the Trojans forced a jump ball and took possession with 1:24 left, trailing 51-48.
“(Piestrak) got a couple open ones and he made big shot after big shot,” Beggs said.
After a layup brought Nanticoke Area within one, Becahi turned the ball over and Piestrak hit a pair of free throws to take a 52-51 lead with 0:45 to play.
Becahi attempted a go-ahead 3, but it was blocked by Luke Butczynski. Rich Wiaterowski followed up with a pair of free throws to make it 54-51 with 0:18 left.
After a pair of Becahi free throws, Kreitzer connected on both ends of a one-and-one.
Leading 56-53, Nanticoke Area got its defensive play of the game when Kreitzer stripped a Becahi player of the ball around halfcourt.
“Nate made a great play, his teammates were there,” Beggs said. “If he didn’t get the steal, they would have picked up the slack. Obviously, he makes it and makes big free throws.”
Kreitzer gained possession, drew a foul and knocked down two more free throws to seal the win.
Butczynski and Justin Casey had eight points each for Nanticoke Area. Wiaterowski added six points and Trahjan Krupinski five.
“It’s very special,” Kreitzer said. “First time since 2003 we’re in states and now we’re going to the Sweet 16. It’s amazing.”

Nanticoke rallies to defeat Bethlehem Catholic
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Nanticoke more than doubled its output in the first three quarters in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon.
The result was the District 2 third-seeded Trojans making a remarkable comeback to defeat Bethlehem Catholic 58-56 in a PIAA Class 4A boys basketball first-round game at Bethlehem Freedom High School.
Nanticoke (19-7) scored 30 points in the fourth quarter, with guard Cody Piestrak scoring all 12 of his points in the final eight minutes, as the Trojans erased a 12-point deficit after three quarters.
“We were happy to be down by five at the half,” Nanticoke coach John Beggs said in a phone interview after the win. “In the third quarter, we were down by a little bit more, but we took a lot of good shots and they weren’t falling. We knew (Bethlehem Catholic) in their last three games got big leads.
“So we thought if we could keep it close and put a little pressure on them, we may have a chance to get right back in it. Sure enough, we got a couple guys to make some big shots. They had a couple missed free throws, and the next thing you know, somehow we had a possession, got the lead and never let it go.”
Nanticoke took the lead for good, 52-51, with 45 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Piestrak.
“Then we got a stop and the guys were clutch down the line,” Beggs said. “I know Rich Wiaterowski made two free throws late in the game, Nate Kreitzer made four free throws. It was hectic time.”
Beggs compared the win over District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic (21-8) to Nanticoke’s 72-61 win over District 1 champ Pottstown in the opening round of the 1992 Class 2A state playoffs. He was a guard on that Nanticoke team.
“I was a guard. The best player on that team was Shawn Hrivnak, who had like 30 points,” Beggs said. “We had a bunch of other guys, a bunch of role players. It was very similar to this team.”
The 1992 team made it to the state quarterfinals, where it lost to Bishop Hoban, which has since merged into Holy Redeemer.
For this version of the Trojans to make the quarterfinals, it will need to win Wednesday against D12 fourth seed West Philadelphia (13-4). West Philly defeated D3 champ Lancaster Catholic 87-65.
Kreitzer finished with 15 to pace Nanticoke. Luke Butczynski and Justin Casey added eight apiece.
Nanticoke limited Bethlehem Catholic 6-foot-9 center Ryan Young to 11 points.

District 2 boys basketball: Nanticoke Area punches ticket to states
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From heartbreak to jubilation, Nanticoke Area’s wild five-day stretch ended Wednesday with a state playoff berth.
Three nights after Nanticoke Area’s double-overtime loss to Scranton Prep denied it a spot in the district championship, the Trojans redeemed themselves at Holy Redeemer, where they defeated Meyers 57-46 in the District 2 Class 4A third-place game.
Sophomores Nate Kreitzer (25 points) and Trahjan Krupinski (14 points) handled the bulk of the scoring, leading the Trojans into the first round of the PIAA tournament, which begins March 11.
“It was just some special feeling we all had, that we knew something good was going to happen today,” said Trojans senior Justin Casey. “There was no nerves in the locker room; we all felt comfortable, relaxed, and we came out here and performed.”
The win was Nanticoke Area’s (18-7) second in two tries against WVC Division 2 champion Meyers (18-7).
A sloppy first quarter that resulted in Nanticoke Area stealing the ball six times from Meyers ended with the 16-year-old Kreitzer beating the buzzer with a long-range 3-pointer to tie the game at 12.
“I was just hoping I could get it on the rim, and it just went in for me,” said Kreitzer, whose Trojans last appeared in the state tournament when he was 3, in 2003.
Playing without standout forward Luke Butczynski — who injured his left knee against Scranton Prep on Saturday, before the game was delayed until Sunday — Krupinski made his presence known inside. Butczynski’s status for PIAAs is unknown.
Starting the fourth quarter tied at 31, Krupinski scored back-to-back buckets in the paint, going ahead 35-31.
The teams tied again at 39, before Nanticoke Area’s Cody Piestrak and Ryan Gilgallon traded 3-pointers to the game, 42-42, with 2:45 remaining.
All the while, Meyers leading scorer Jawane Buckner was held to only three points. Players like Levaugn Soules (13 points) and Gilgallon (12 points, 10 rebounds) stepped up to reach double-figures scoring for Meyers.
“We just wanted to make sure we didn’t let him shoot,” Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs said of Buckner, who scored 29 points over the weekend in a loss to GAR. “We lost him one time and he drained it — we saw what he did against GAR, so we made sure that we made the other guys shoot the outside shot and just tried to attack the glass.”
The deciding stretch of the game was all Nanticoke Area, as it began with Krupinski’s putback and a Meyers missed 3.
The Trojans’ Zack Cardone added to the lead — 46-42 — with 1:15 left, while Meyers was called for a travel and a technical foul moments later.
Kreitzer — who Casey called “the quarterback of our team” — proceeded to make three free throws and a layup, while Cardone tacked on another free throw, making it 52-42 with 0:42 left and essentially sealing the win.
“I told the kids afterwards ... I want them to think about positive things,” said Meyers head coach Pat Toole. “Certainly, what I want them to remember was the fact that — when I don’t believe anyone believed we could — we won three road games in four days to win the conference championship. To knock off Berwick, GAR and Hazleton on the road, that’s an accomplishment that they should be proud of. That’s what I want them to remember for the big part of their senior year.”

Nanticoke defeats Meyers to earn state berth
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Nanticoke sophomore point guard Nate Kreitzer took control of the ball with a minute left. He dribbled under the basket, made a big loop into the backcourt and then dashed down the lane for two points.
The points were probably not needed. Nanticoke was in control by then. But they were symbolic. They represented the long road the Trojans have traveled to finally get back to the state playoffs.
Kreitzer finished with 25 points and fellow sophomore Trajhan Krupinski added 14 more as Nanticoke defeated Meyers 57-46 in the District 2 Class 4A third-place boys basketball game at Holy Redeemer High School.The Trojans will play the winner of the D1/11 subregional championship game, either Bethlehem Catholic or Jim Thorpe, on March 11.
Nanticoke (18-7) qualified for the state playoffs for the first time since 2003. . Meyers ended its season at 18-7, failing to make state for only the second time in the past eight seasons.
The Trojans were penciled in as a contender last season only to lose to Berwick 47-45 in the quarterfinals with a senior-heavy lineup. They could have clinched a state berth over the weekend, but squandered a 24-point lead in a 72-66 double-overtime loss to Scranton Prep.
“We just had to look off of that (loss) and focus on this game,” Kreitzer said.
Nanticoke finally began to distance itself from Meyers with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter. Krupinski scored on a rebound and a tip-in, breaking the sixth tie of the night and giving the Trojans a 46-42 lead. Krupinski played a larger role with senior Luke Butczynski, considered the team’s best all-around player, out of the lineup with a knee injury suffered during the Prep loss.
Kreitzer followed with three free throws, the final after Meyers was called for a technical foul. He then added his roundabout drive to the basket to give Nanticoke a 51-42 lead with 53 seconds left. Until the outburst, the biggest lead was five points.
“I’m going to tell you right now, big things are coming for Nate Kreitzer,” said Nanticoke senior forward Justin Casey, who had a team-leading eight rebounds. “Even though he doesn’t have the captain mantra … he’s been a leader for us. He’s been like the quarterback of our team. Even his freshman year, I knew this kid was going to be something special.”
Nanticoke defeated Meyers 44-42 on Feb. 4 during the Wyoming Valley Conference season. Like that game, the Mohawks were unable to get into a consistent flow in the offensive end. Ten first-half turnovers didn’t help matters. Neither did the fact that WVC Division 2 MVP Jawane Buckner had been sick since a 29-point performance in a semifinal loss to GAR on Saturday. Buckner finished with three points on 1 of 4 shooting.
“I know he’s been a little sick,” Nanticoke coach John Beggs said. “I know that played a little bit into it, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t let him shoot. We lost him one time and he drained it. We saw what he did against GAR, so we made sure we made the other guys shoot the outside shot and tried to attack the glass.”
Meyers’ Ryan Gilgallon knotted the game three times with 3-pointers, the last with 2:44 left in the fourth that tied it 42-42. The Mohawks, though, never took the lead in the final eight minutes. Their last lead came at 1:23 of the third on a fast break bucket by Robbie Formola.
“I told the kids afterward that I want them to think about positive things,” Meyers coach Pat Toole said. “What I want them to remember was the fact that when nobody thought we could, we won three road games in four games to win the conference championship.
“To knock off Berwick, GAR and Hazleton on the road, that’s an accomplishment they should be proud of.”


Boys Basketball: Prep rallies from 24-point deficit for 2OT win
Citizens Voice Two sites. Two days. Two overtimes.

It took all that — and a stunning second-half comeback — for top-seeded Scranton Prep to earn a spot in the District 2 boys Class 4A championship game.
The Cavaliers took Nanticoke Area’s best shot and then rebounded with big play after big play, overcoming a 24-point, third-quarter deficit to beat the Trojans, 72-66, in the semifinals Saturday at the University of Scranton’s John Long Center.
“Instant classic,” said Scranton Prep coach Andrew Kettel after his team scored 62 second-half points in the semifinal.
“It’s probably the weirdest game I’ve ever been a part of,” said Scranton Prep’s Paddy Casey, who scored a game-high 24 points, all but three of them coming after Prep fell behind, 34-10, half a minute into the third quarter.
It started Saturday afternoon at Lackawanna College, but when torrential downpours caused the roof to leak, the game was suspended 14 seconds into the second quarter with Nanticoke Area leading, 11-3.
The Trojans carried that momentum into Sunday, with Cody Piestrak scoring eight of his 14 points in runs of 9-3 and 12-2 that gave the Trojans a 32-10 lead at halftime. It extended by another basket when Justin Casey scored early in the third.
“Obviously, it was a weird day, coming back on a second day, so we had to embrace that challenge early,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “And we did in the second quarter, and we were as excited as we’ve been all year.“To have the lead and have the momentum at halftime was great, but we were well aware they were going to make a run. We knew we weren’t 20-some points better than them in a half of basketball.”
Nanticoke Area made 11 of 21 shots in the first half, which allowed the Trojans to set their defense and slow down Scranton Prep, which made just 6 of 29 in the first half.
“No excuses, they came out and punched us in the mouth the first half,” Paddy Casey said. “We came out in the second half and kept fighting.”
Paddy Casey’s drive started a 19-3 run that accomplished what Prep was trying to do — slice the deficit to a manageable number while changing the pace of the game.
“We wanted to get it to three points with four minutes left in the third, and we got it to eight at the end of the third,” Kettel said. “Throughout the season, the third has been our best quarter, so I think they had the confidence that they could do it.”
Leo O’Boyle buried a 3 that fired up the Cavaliers’ bench, and when Paddy Casey stuck a 20-footer the lead was down to 34-19.
Nate Kreitzer, who led Nanticoke Area with 19 points, answered with his own 3, but Prep put together a 10-0 run in the final 2:55.
“They went on their runs. We didn’t get a chance to get our runs,” said Scranton Prep senior Logan Bailey, who scored all 15 of his points in the second half. “We knew that if we stayed focused and stuck to the game plan that we’d come back and chip away.”
When Kreitzer buried a deep 3 a minute into the fourth, Nanticoke Area’s lead was still comfortable at 42-32.
“We thought we weathered some of the runs and they made a couple shots they’d missed earlier, and honestly, their depth just wore us down,” Beggs said. “When we got some guys in foul trouble, we had to be creative with our lineup. Our substitutes played well, but you can’t replace big guys with small guys and expect the same type of rebounding.”
Scranton Prep also forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers, and Brett Para made numerous big plays for the Cavaliers.
“It was such a total team effort,” Kettel said. “Brett didn’t have a great first half and we kind of pulled him and went with Leo (O’Boyle). And Brett came back in and had that baseline dunk and then he had a monster block at the other end.
Nanticoke Area still led, 48-40, with 3:20 left in regulation, but Paddy Casey converted a 3-point play, then scored off a steal by Para, and Bailey’s steal resulted in two free throws, all in a span of 28 seconds.
Para’s dunk made it a one-point game, and his steal off the inbounds pass set up Paddy Casey for two free throws and Prep’s first lead, 51-50, with 2:01 left.
Nanticoke Area didn’t fold.
Down 3 with 15 seconds left, Luke Butczynski buried a 28-footer to tie it and force overtime.
“We like our highlights when we win, but I told him when he came off that’s one of the biggest shots that Nanticoke guys have made in a long time to give us a chance,” Beggs said.
At the end of the first overtime, Para rejected Piestrak on a last-second drive, and then he drained an 8-footer in the second overtime that gave the Cavs the lead for keeps, 65-64, with 2:18 remaining.
Bailey, Para and Nick Dende, who scored 12, made seven of eight free throws down the stretch to seal the comeback.

District 2 boys basketball: Nanticoke Area wins with tempo in 4A quarters
Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Having matched up against Wyoming Area only six nights earlier, Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs set out with a strategy of dictating the pace — a fast pace — in Wednesday’s win-or-go-home rematch.
“We knew if we didn’t start well, they could hold the ball and they’re very deliberate and they’d try to take us out of what we were trying to do,” said Beggs, whose Trojans won the first time around, but did so by scoring a mere 38 points. “So our goal was to start early and get a little bit of a lead to make them have to play a more up-tempo game.
“Once we started with a good lead, it fell into place.”
Nanticoke Area forwards Justin Casey and Luke Butczynski teamed up to score 12 first-quarter points, leading a strong attack inside and in transition in a 60-36 win at Valley West in the District 2 Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinals.
“We got a couple layups, we drew a double-team early, we had guys finishing strong at the rim,” Beggs said. “We wanted that — and it happened even better than I could have expected.”
Wyoming Area head coach Pete Moses said that if his team had taken an early lead, maybe the Warriors could have dictated the pace.
Instead, Wyoming Area fell behind 18-3 early in the second quarter.
“I think what happened is once you get down by a significant amount of points, you have to increase the pace,” Moses said. “Once we got down, we knew we had to play that pace with them. We didn’t necessarily want to do that because that’s not necessarily our style. The score dictated the change in style and that’s a credit to Nanticoke and their coaching staff.”
The fourth-seeded Trojans (17-6) will play No. 1 seed and local power Scranton Prep on Saturday at a time and place to be determined.
While Nanticoke Area dominated early on, the Warriors finished the first half on a 13-8 run to make it 26-16 at halftime.
The Warriors were given even more hope when a Mike Bonita 3-pointer cut third deficit to 28-21 in the third.
But Butczynski answered with a pair of 3s, while Cody Piestrak and Nate Kreitzer added one apiece, closing out the third with a 40-24 lead.
“As a senior and a captain, I knew I had to take over the game and once I got it going, everyone else would just follow from there,” said the 6-foot-4 Butczynski, who had a game-high 15 points.
Casey added 13 points, while Kreitzer had nine and a pair of steals. Piestrak hauled in five rebounds with seven points.
On the opposite sideline, Kyle Musto led Wyoming Area with nine points, as the Warriors’ most successful season in several years ends with a 16-7 record.
“I just think it’s unfortunate that the outcome tonight is not reflective of the way these kids played all year and how hard they played,” Moses

WVC Boys Basketball Preview
Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area

Coach: John Beggs
Classification: 4A
2015 results: 19-6, dropped in the District 2 Class 3A quarterfinals by No. 6 Berwick.
Key players: Seniors — Luke Butczynski; Justin Casey; Zack Cardone. Junior — Tyler Thomas. Sophomore — Nate Kreitzer.

Outlook: The Trojans lost a big, good group of seniors. But that hasn’t phased them so far. Nanticoke Area won four straight to start its exhibition schedule, outscoring opponents by an average of 69.6 to 42.0. Butczynski and Casey are the leading returning scorers and could be counted on for quality performances more often than not.