Trojan Basketball

Nanticoke Boy's History
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Colby Butczynski - Nanticoke Area Senior

Class 4A State Playoffs
Montoursville 66, Nanticoke Area 51
Great Season Trojans!

BOYS HOOPS: Colby Butczynski, Nanticoke Area advance past Hanover Area
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YATESVILLE — With just a pair of free throws to his credit through the first three quarters, Nanticoke Area’s Colby Butczynski did what a veteran is supposed to do in his team’s biggest game of the season.

Butczynski scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and the Trojans overcame a pair of five-point deficits in the final period to post a 57-53 victory over Hanover Area on Tuesday night at Pittston Area in a Class 4A state play-in game.

With the win, the Trojans, now 8-17, will advance to the state playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of District 2 and face the No. 1 seed from District 4. Hanover Area ends the season 11-14.

“He is resilient. There was no way anybody was going to stop (Butczynski) from playing more basketball this year,” Nanticoke Area coach Zach Pientka said. “He really took it upon himself to play great defense and get defensive rebounds.”

Butczynski’s first two points of the game came on a pair of free throws at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter. He was held without a point in the second and third quarters. Without Butczynski scoring, there were other Nanticoke Area players on the floor putting the ball in the basket.

Jake Krupinski scored 13 points in the first half, and J.J. Bielecki had 12 points through the first three quarters. Nanticoke Area held a six-point lead at the half, but then Hanover Area got hot.

Ripping apart Nanticoke Area’s zone defense, the Hawkeyes came out and made 7 of 9 shots from beyond the 3-point line and scored 27 points in the third quarter. Khairi Carson made four 3-pointers, while Matt Barber had two and Auggie George one.

But the Trojans were able to hang around and trailed by just three points going to the fourth quarter.

“In the third quarter when Hanover Area started making shots, we had to push the tempo and get off in transition,” Pientka said. “When it comes to crunch time, we are going to play man. Our plan was to play zone and find the shooters. Unfortunately, in the third quarter, those shooters found the net.”

Caron scored off a turnover to give the Hawks a five-point lead, but Krupinski quickly cut it back to three when he scored off a Hanover Area turnover.

On Hanover Area’s next possession, it started to slow the tempo down, almost forcing the Trojans to come out of the zone. And once Nanticoke Area obliged, the Trojans took off.

Four consecutive points off turnovers brought the Trojans within a point. Butczynski then scored off a drive and followed it up with a 3-pointer to put the Trojans ahead, 51-49, with 50.5 seconds left.

“It was frustrating a little bit,” Butczynski said of his scoring drought before the fourth quarter. “My teammates scored and did their job. They kept my confidence up. We wanted another state playoff game. We went three years in a row. We wanted to make it a fourth.”

The Hawks had two chances to tie the game, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, and then missed another shot in the lane. With four fouls to give before the Trojans were in the bonus, all Hanover Area could do is foul. The Trojans finally went to the line with 18.7 seconds left and made 6 of 8 down the stretch to seal the win.

“We would love to be playing at the arena right now,” Pientka said. “We are just happy that we get to go play more basketball.”

Boys basketball: Nanticoke Area clamps down on Tunkhannock to move to semifinals
By John Erzar [email protected]

EXETER — Colby Butzczynski took care of the offense. JJ Bielecki took care of the defense. And Nanticoke Area took care of Tunkhannock 46-38 in a District 2 Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinal game Wednesday night.

Butczynski scored 24 points while Bielecki kept Tunkhannock’s Ryan Harder scoreless. Harder finished the regular season as the third-leading scorer in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference. He rarely got the opportunity to shoot Wednesday.

Sixth-seeded Nanticoke Area (7-16) plays Saturday in the semifinals against No. 2 Valley View (16-7) at a site and time to be announced. The Trojans will get two cracks at making the state playoffs. A win Saturday or in the third-place game on Tuesday will clinch a spot.

Third-seeded Tunkhannock (15-8) came into the game with a reputation as a 3-pointer shooting team. Nanticoke Area saw that firsthand in a 58-52 loss to the Tigers on Dec. 27.

None of the Tigers found the mark consistently Wednesday, though. They finished 6-of-27 (22 percent) from behind the arc. Harder, the top 3-pointer shooter, got off only one 3-point attempt.

“JJ Bielecki did an outstanding job defending him,” Nanticoke Area coach Zach Pientka said. “He locked him up the entire game. But it just wasn’t him. It was a total team effort. We were locked and ready to go for a full week.”

Butczynski seemed quite eager. He scored 13 of Nanticoke Area’s 16 first-half points and took all but three of the Trojans’ shots in the first two periods. His offense helped Nanticoke Area take a 19-14 lead into halftime.

“All week we worked hard, very hard,” Butczynski said. “It all started with JJ today, locking down their best player and holding him to zero. JJ started all this and gave us the engine to run and we finished as a team.”

Tunkhannock never led the entire second half, but managed to slice the deficit to 19-17 when Jake Frisco opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer.

Nanticoke Area’s Jake Krupinski helped move the advantage to double digits in the third by converting a steal into a layup and scoring another basket on transition. Tunkhannock, though, had one last run left.

The Tigers went on an 8-0 spurt — with Jack Chilson scoring five of the points — to move within 33-30 with 3:23 left in the fourth quarter. Nanticoke Area responded with a 6-0 run a bit later.

District 2 Class 4A Quarterfinals

Nanticoke Area 46, Tunkhannock 38

NANTICOKE AREA (46) — Sincere Shiloh 1 3-4 5, Lue Myers 0 3-4 3, JJ Bielecki 2 0-0 6, Colby Butczynski 8 6-7 24, Jake Krupinski 4 2-2 10, Joe Fox 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 14-17 46.

TUNKHANNOCK (38) — Ryan Harder 0 0-0 0, Ben Chilson 3 0-0 8, Dave Baltrusaitis 1 0-0 3, Jack Chilson 3 6-8 13, Jake Frisco 3 2-2 10, Jared Robinson 1 0-0 2, Chris Trochak 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 8-10 38.

Nanticoke Area`11`8`12`15 — 46

Tunkhannock`8`6`13`11 — 38

Three-point goals — NA 2 (Butczynski), TUN 6 (B.Chilson 2, Baltrusaitis, J.Chilson, Frisco 2).

BOYS BASKETBALL: Nanticoke Area outlasts Tunkhannock
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This time of year, everything feels different. The energy level rises and the sense of urgency is prevalent during practice and even more during the game.

Nanticoke Area showed that type of urgency Wednesday night in the opening round of the District 2 Class 4A playoffs. And, for that matter, so did Tunkhannock.

Colby Butczynsky finished with a game-high 24 points, and J.J. Bielecki held Tunkhannock’s leading scorer, Ryan Harder, without a point in a 46-38 victory at Wyoming Area.

The Trojans (7-16), the No. 6 seed, will play No. 2 Valley View (16-7) on Saturday at a site and time to be announced. Valley View advanced with a 73-50 win over Wyoming Area. Tunkhannock, the No. 3 seed, ends the year 15-8.

“It’s a very fun energy. You know you have to work hard or you are going home the first game,” Butczynski said. “It’s exciting. I can’t wait to get back in the gym and get ready to play Valley View.”

The Trojans didn’t lead the entire game, but Tunkhannock’s final lead of the night came at the 3:42 mark of the second quarter when Jack Chilson sliced through the lane for an easy basket. Butczynski followed that up with back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Trojans ahead by five at the half.

Tunkhannock was 1 of 8 from behind the 3-point line, and finished the game 6 of 27. With Bielecki locking up Harder, who came into the game averaging 15.8 points per game, the Tigers went to their second option in Chilson.

“Our game plan was to limit (the 3-point shot),” Nanticoke Area coach Zach Pientka said. “(Bielecki) did an outstanding job of defending Harder. It just wasn’t him, it was a total team effort. We were locked in for a full week. We never had this much time to prepare for a game. We were ready to go.”

The Trojans closed the third quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 31-22 lead into the fourth quarter. The Tigers made a push with Chilson scoring 8 points in a 10-4 spurt that helped trim the deficit to 35-32. Coming out of a timeout, the Tigers went to their press and began fouling in the final 2:15.

The Tigers closed the gap to four points with 30.2 seconds left, but Nanticoke Area put it away at the foul line.

“They did a great job. They really covered Harder well,” Tunkhannock coach Spencer Lunger said. “He has been our offense and one of our big threats all year. I thought they got physical with us and our guys did not respond well.”

Initially, Lunger said the plan was to pound the ball inside and take advantage of Tunkhannock’s overall size. But with trouble getting the interior pass going, the Tigers elected to try to win from the perimeter.

“Getting it inside wasn’t working in the beginning,” Lunger said. “We missed a couple of shots we usually make. That was the difference in the game. We went on that run but we ran out of gas.”

Nanticoke Area (46)

C. Butczynski 8 6-7 24, J. Krupinski 4 2-2 10, S. Shiloh 1 3-4 5, J. Bielecki 2 0-0 4, L. Myers 0 3-4 3, J. Fox III 0 0-0 0, Totals 15 14-17 46.

Tunkhannock (38)

J. Chilson 3 6-8 13, J. Frisco 4 2-2 12, B. Chilson 3 0-0 8, D. Baltrusaitis 1 0-0 3, J. Robinson 1 0-0 2, R. Harder 0 0-0 0, C. Trochak 0 0-0 0, Totals 12 8-10 38.

Nanticoke Area 11 8 12 15—46

Tunkhannock 8 6 8 16—38

3-point goals: C. Butczynski (NA) 2, J. Frisco (Tunk) 2, B. Chilson (Tunk) 2, J. Chilson (Tunk) 1, D. Baltrusaitis (Tunk) 1.


A Look at the High School Basketball Season
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Coach: Zach Pientka

2018-19 WVC record: 13-5 Div. 2, 1st; 22-8 overall

2018-19 postseason: D2-4A Playoffs – Hanover Area, W 65-45; Tunkhannock, W 49-48; Scranton Prep, L 47-41. PIAA Class 4A Playoffs – Montoursville, W 57-35; Bonner-Prendergast, L 70-52

State classification: 4A

Key players lost: Nate Kreitzer; Trahjan Krupinski; Dylan Szychowski

Key players: Colby Butczynski, Sr.; Collin Brown, Sr.; Andy Kozlofski, Sr.; JJ Bielecki, Jr.; Jake Krupinski, Jr.; Luke Myers, Jr.

Outlook: Assistant Zach Pientka takes over for John Beggs, who is taking the season off for health reasons. The Trojans have two major holes. Nate Kreitzer was a dynamic playmaker and perimeter scorer, while Trahjan Krupinski was one of the toughest guys in the paint. Butczynski and Jake Krupinski bring experience, but others will need to succeed in bigger roles as the Trojans play bigger schools this time around.

Boys Basketball Preview
Steve Bennett - Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area
Head coach: Zach Pientka

Looking back: Finished 22-8, lost to Scranton Prep, 47-41, in the District 2 Class 4A championship game; lost to Bonner-Prendergast, 70-52, in the PIAA second round.

Players to watch: Luke Myers, J.J. Bielecki, Colby Butczynski, Collin Brown, Jake Krupinski, Andy Kozlofski, Joe Fox III, Sincere Shiloh.

What to watch for: The Trojans need to replace their best defender, one of the top rebounders in the conference last season, and the program’s fourth all-time leading scorer. They do return two starters from last year in Butczynski and Krupinski. That is a nice start. Butczynski can score and Krupinski is just a solid all-around player. This is going to be another team that is going to need to have someone step in be another scorer. The Trojans can’t depend on Butczynski to do it all himself. Opponents are going to attempt to take him away, and when that happens someone is going to need to be there to help pick up the slack. There are plenty of players on the roster who have been a part of some big games, and there is something to be said for that. Especially when conference play begins.

Butczynski, Krupinski return to lead Trojans

Colby Butczynski was the only underclassmen named to the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 first-team all-stars by last season.

Butczynski returns, along with second-team division all-star Jake Krupinski to provide the on-floor leadership for the Nanticoke Trojans, who will be operating this season under the guidance of Zach Pienkta, who has moved up from assistant coach with John Beggs missing the season for health reasons.

Beggs was’s choice as division Coach of the Year each of the past two seasons when Nanticoke won titles.

The return of Butczynski and Krupinski, along with some key role players, makes Nanticoke the top-ranked Big School boys team in the preseason Astra Wealth Advisors Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 teams. Butczynski is a senior and Krupinski is a junior.

The Trojans will be put to the test with the WVC’s move from three to two divisions pushing the Trojans into Division 1.

“We graduated some very good players last year, but our returning guys have been working hard and competing at every practice,” Pientka said. “We will focus on building and growing as a team throughout the season.”

Nanticoke finished 22-8 after a busy postseason in 2018-19.

The Trojans won Division 2 in a playoff, putting them in the first WVC overall playoffs where they won once before losing in the title game. Nanticoke then made it to the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza where it finished as District 2 Class 4A runner-up. It won a first-round Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association game before going out in the second round of the state playoffs.

Junior J.J. Bielecki and senior Andy Kozlofski played many important minutes along the way.

Juniors Luke Myers, Sincere Shiloh and Joe Fox and senior Collin Brown also got considerable varsity experience.

Senior Tyler Rushton and junior John Chernowsky are also in contention for key spots on the team, which is trying to replace all-state guard and school record-setting, 3-point shooter Nate Kreitzer, who is now playing at Misericordia.