Trojan Basketball


WVC coaches react to proposed PIAA playoff changes
Eric Shultz  - Citizens Voice

 For coach John Beggs, it’s OK to step on a basketball court as the underdog.

His Nanticoke Area boys simply have had no other option at times. It’s been a similar story for three years now.

The Trojans started a memorable run to the 2017 state semifinals with wins over Catholic schools Bethlehem Catholic and Conwell-Egan. There wasn’t the same magic in 2018, when they lost to Bethlehem Catholic in the first round.

This past season ended in the second round of states to Bonner-Prendergast, another Catholic school with Division 1 talent. Nanticoke Area’s entire postseason featured a gauntlet of private schools, with Wyoming Seminary waiting in the Wyoming Valley Conference’s tournament finals and Scranton Prep coming out on top in the District 2 title game.

None of those schools’ enrollments are confined by the same geographical boundaries as Nanticoke Area.

“We knew we were playing a little above our heads, but we were playing our best (against Bonner-Prendergast),” Beggs said. “The reality is, trying to beat those types of teams is tough.”

Beggs noted his Trojans “like going up as the underdog” and “try to shock the world” in those situations. But that might not be so necessary in the future, if a proposed change to the PIAA postseason is passed.

House Bill 1600, announced Tuesday in Harrisburg, has the potential to break up future state tournaments into separate competitions, one for public and charter schools and another for private and Catholic schools. It would also eliminate the PIAA’s transfer rule.

The proposed change to state playoffs would affect football, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, baseball and softball. Though some members around the Wyoming Valley Conference still have questions, several are open to a change to the system.

“I definitely think something should be done. I’m glad that there are discussions and there are people taking a serious look at this,” Beggs said. “We draw from an area that’s defined by boundaries. What we would prefer is to play against similar teams.”

Begg’s Trojans can releate to some other WVC schools.

Lake-Lehman’s girls basketball team started its 2019 state tournament with a 22-point victory over Jersey Shore, a public school. Then came a matchup against Bonner-Prendergast, which won by 20 and advanced to the semifinals.

Even if the Black Knights had advanced out of that second round, Bishop McDevitt, Bethlehem Catholic and North Catholic would have been their opponents in the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game.

Lake-Lehman coach Charlie Lavan coaches his team to “play anybody,” and he said he feels his girls could have contended with a better game in states. But he also offered that “it’s not a level playing field overall.”

“You need a truly exceptional, exceptional year in the public school sector, especially in your lower beat a private schools, Catholic schools and charter schools,” Lavan said. “That only comes around once in a great while.”

Valley West football ran into the same problem in 2017’s state playoffs when it got to the quarterfinals. The Spartans were one of four teams beaten by 21 points or more by state champion Archbishop Wood.

Keating tried to watch film and game-plan for a team with multiple Division 1 players who didn’t necessarily have to come from the same area. With that in mind, Keating is in favor of separation in the postseason.

“It’s really a set of rules for public schools and a set of rules for private schools,” Keating said.

“It’s welcome news, and I think it’s a move in the right direction.”

There are still some issues some see in the bill.

Charter schools would still be included in the public state tournaments, and Lavan noted that those teams could still operate without boundaries.

Basketball and football are sports private schools have thrived in, but Holy Redeemer athletic director J.P. Aqualina said he hopes the other sports are given as much consideration. He pointed to District 2’s relatively low number of private schools, which are already broken down further by different classifications.

If those teams make it to a private-school tournament, it could be a tough drive for students and parents depending on the opponent.

“I hope they consider the travel and the amount of fans that are going to be able to get to games,” Aqualina said. “I’m sure they did their homework, but I hope there’s a lot of things everybody considers.”

Regular seasons and district tournaments would not be affected by the bill. Beggs wondered how state qualification would be handled in instances where the final rounds of districts are made up exclusively by private or public schools.

The PIAA even weighed in with concerns in a release opposing the changes.

Its release stated that the PIAA doesn’t see separate tournaments as a solution, as “having 18% of private schools being guaranteed 50% of the championship entries promotes inquities in post-season opportunities.” An elimination of a transfer rule “would expose Pennsylvania athletes and schools to the chaos that has resulted in those states which have done so,” the PIAA added in the release, stating it was not involved in the creation of the proposed legislation.

“I want to be cautious, but I am not in support of a separation,” District 2 chairperson Frank Majikes said, echoing a press release Tuesday from the PIAA Board of Directors. “These are major changes that I don’t feel are in the best interest of all the member schools across the state.”

Pete Moses, who coached boys basketball at Wyoming Area before taking over at Wyoming Seminary, has been on both ends of the issue. He said the proposal could be a “better system,” and he simply wants the best thing to be done for student-athletes, with an emphasis on education. Some transfer controversies have made headlines, but he noted others are made for legitimate reasons in both private and public schools.

“I can tell you that the kids just want to compete and want to play,” Moses said. “Whoever they’re going to face, I think kids just generally want to compete.”

“As long as we’re doing the right things for kids and emphasizing academics, I think it’ll all work out.”

Staff writer Joby Fawcett contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Area quartet named all-state

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When Nate Kreitzer walked off the basketball court for the final time as a Nanticoke Area Trojan, he did so with an incredible list of accomplishments.

Same goes for forwards Dimitri Gnall of Wyoming Seminary, Da’mir Faison of Hazleton Area and Matt Marchetti of MMI Prep.

All four seniors received one final nod of validation Tuesday with the release of the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Boys Basketball team.

“That’s just great,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “The teams that we have are all competitive. For our conference and District 2, we’ve had some great runs. We always say, ‘With team success, individual honors will come.’ These honors are all well-deserved for the players.”

Dozens of sports writers from across the state filled out ballots, helping to select a first, second and third team for Classes A through 6A. Each classification had 20 or 21 all-state players.

Kreitzer and Gnall became two-time all-state selections, although they upgraded — being selected second team after being third team selections last year — in Classes 4A and 3A, respectively.

“We were fired up at Nanticoke for Nate ... and for him to bump up to second team was great,” Beggs said. “When we looked at some of the first-team guys, there was a lot of familiar names of guys that we played in the state tournament.”

The Class 4A all-state team was arguably the best of the bunch, led by Player of the Year Donta Scott of Imhotep Charter. He’ll play at Maryland.

Scott’s Imhotep teammate Dahmir Bishop (Xavier recruit), as well as Bonner-Prendergast duo Isaiah Wong (Miami, Fla.) and Tariq Ingraham (Wake Forest) plus Bethlehem Catholic’s Justin Paz (East Stroudsburg) all made first team in Class 4A.

In directing the Trojans to the state tournament three years in a row, Kreitzer played against them all — and others like Scranton Prep’s 6-foot-8 Lafayette recruit Leo O’Boyle, who made second team — and held his own.

“To be recognized on the state level with some big-time players who are going to be playing some big-time basketball, it’s just an honor for him and our school and our program,” Beggs said.

Kreitzer, a point guard, made a program-record 97 3-pointers this past season. He averaged 18.8 points per game for the WVC Division 2 champion Trojans, who were the District 2 runners-up and won a state playoff game before being eliminated in the second round by Bonner-Prendergast.

Kreitzer will play college basketball at Misericordia, while Gnall will also play at the Division III level for Kenyon College in Ohio.

“Dimitri made that decision on May 1 and I know he has spoken highly about that school academically, and he has a very good relationship with their coach, who had an opportunity to see us play on several occasions,” said Sem head coach Pete Moses. “I think it’ll be a great fit for Dimitri. I know wherever he goes, he will work hard and excel.”

Gnall was selected Citizens’ Voice Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 ppg for Sem, which won championships at the division, conference and district levels.

Like Nanticoke Area, Sem also suffered a season-ending loss in the second round of the state playoffs, losing 61-59 against heavily favored Neumann-Goretti. Gnall scored 21 points.

“There was a lot of talent in the 3A classification,” Moses said. “I know that it was a very, very competitive classification. For Dimitri to excel at that level, I think, showed not only his talent but his ability.”

Hazleton Area’s Faison was a third-team pick in Class 6A. He averaged a team-high 19.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game for the Cougars, who won District 2 Class 6A and WVC Division 1 titles.

Hazleton Area bowed out of the state playoffs with a first-round loss against Methacton. Faison will play college basketball at DI New Jersey Institute of Technology.

MMI Prep’s Marchetti made third team in Class A after leading the Preppers with 18.3 ppg in a season that included a District 2 championship.

Marchetti ended his high school career last month with a dunk at the buzzer in the Dr. George P. Moses Senior All-Star Classic, later saying he took pride in representing MMI Prep, which, by far, has the lowest enrollment of any school in District 2.

In addition to Scranton Prep’s O’Boyle, the Lackawanna League had one other all-state selection. Binghamton recruit George Tinsley, of Abington Heights, earned first team distinction in Class 5A.

The Citizens' Voice Boys Basketball All-Stars
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice

Nate Kreitzer
School: Nanticoke Area
Year: Senior
Position: Guard

Three-time all-star never backed down from a challenge. He made a program-record 97 3-pointers and averaged 18.8 points per game for the Trojans, who he led to yet another WVC Division 2 title and PIAA playoff berth.

Trahjan Krupinski
School: Nanticoke Area
Year: Senior
Position: Forward

The Trojans were spectacular at shooting the ball, but they needed a player like 6-foot-4 Krupinski to put them over the top. He averaged 10.1 points per game, including a season-high 22 against Montoursville in PIAAs.

Trojans’ season comes to a close
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice

The past few years of Nanticoke Area boys basketball will not be defined by one play, nor one game, not even an entire season.

But, the final memories often turn into lasting memories, and that’s probably going to be OK with seniors Nate Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski.

The senior trio played its final game as Trojans on Tuesday with Kreitzer scoring 29 points in a hard-fought, 70-52 loss against state championship frontrunner Bonner-Prendergast in the second round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Kreitzer, reflecting on a career that saw him be selected all-state and score well over 1,000 points. “All the runs, the practices, the summer practices and the summer games where we were dogging and we were tired out of our minds — it was all worth it at the end.”

A basketball game is sometimes a tale of two halves, and that certainly applied Tuesday night at Freedom High School.

Nanticoke Area led nearly the entire first half and went into halftime with a 33-25 lead.

“First half, we came out and we set the tone,” Kreitzer said. “We were shooting unbelievable in the first half. We were picking up defensively, too, and we were getting layups off the fast break. We were playing really well.”

Kreitzer scored 19 points in the first half, including back-to-back transition layups that gave the Trojans a 25-17 lead with toward the end of the first half.

Nanticoke Area never led by more than eight points, but the Trojans were able to keep their margin at the end of the first half thanks to 3-pointers by Kreitzer and Krupinski with a Kreitzer jumper sandwiched between them.

All the while, Bonner-Prendergast’s Division I duo of 6-foot-3 guard Isaiah Wong and 6-8 center Tariq Ingraham was held scoreless through 16 minutes.

“We were committed to Wong and not letting him shoot the ball. We were going to pinch him and it worked to perfection in the first half,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “Ingraham probably would have gotten some points, but he was on the bench for a while.”

Wong’s scoreless streak was snapped at the start of the third quarter, as he netted four points on a putback and layup in the first minute to make it 33-29.

Meanwhile, Nanticoke Area struggled on offense and started turning the ball over after a first half where the Trojans took good care of the basketball.

“We had three straight possessions where the guy with the ball shot the ball and that’s not our game,” Beggs said. “We like to share the basketball, make teams work. When that happened, we called timeout and addressed it. And then their pressure got to us.”

Bonner-Prendergast tied the game at 38 with 2:47 left in the third quarter on Wong’s layup-and-one.

After Nanticoke Area turned the ball over on a mishandled pass, Bonner-Prendergast took a 40-38 lead on an Ingraham putback.

Bonner-Prendergast led the rest of the game.

“Obviously, they have a lot of talent and a lot of size and they’re well coached,” Beggs said. “We were happy with where we were in the first half. We still thought we could win the ball game. We didn’t show up here to just play. It wouldn’t surprise me if they got to the final and played somebody from the west bracket.”

Bonner-Prendergast’s dagger scores came early in the fourth quarter when Tyreese Watson spotted up and made a 3-pointer from the left corner. On the next possession, Malik Edwards hit a 3 from the opposite corner to make it 52-43.

The final minutes featured slam dunks by Ingraham and Watson, as well as a thunderous, right-handed slam by Wong, who will play college basketball at Miami (Fla.).

Wong finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

“He can shoot, he can drive, he could obviously jump out of the gym,” Kreitzer said. “He’s very good and I wish him luck at Miami next year.”

Five Bonner-Prendergast players scored in double-figures, including junior Donovan Rodriguez, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half when Wong and Ingraham were locked down.

District 12 champion Bonner-Prendergast’s next game is in Friday’s quarterfinals against District 12 third-place team Archbishop Carroll.

Colby Butczynski scored eight points for Nanticoke Area, and Jake Krupinski and Trahjan Krupinski scored six points apiece.

Having played in the state tournament three straight years, Kreitzer’s 29 points were the most he’s ever scored in the state playoffs.

“Nate’s just a fearless guy,” Beggs said. “He plays hard against anybody. He plays hard against our freshmen in practices and he played hard against one of the best players in the country today. That’s just his mentality. He never, ever stops.”

Nanticoke Area’s state run ends with loss to Bonner-Prendergast
Jeff Moeller - Times Leader

Nanticoke Area appeared to be on its way to quarterfinal round of the PIAA state Class 4A playoffs as the Trojans outplayed and outhustled District 12 champion Bonner-Prendergast with 33 first-half points at Freedom High School.

Three possessions into the third quarter, their fortune began to change and their season began to end.

The Trojans’ first-half energy and pinpoint shooting was zapped by Bonner-Prendergast’s trapping defense that resulted in their share of breakaway layups in a 45-point second half that led to a 70-52 victory.

“The first three possessions of the third quarter we were a little disappointed not because they were terrible shots, but they were one-pass shots,” said Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs. “We had three straight possessions where we shot the ball and didn’t share the ball.

“Then their pressure got to us.”

Offensively in the first half, Nanticoke road the hot hand of senior point guard Nate Kreitzer, who scored 19 points (three 3-pointers). The Trojans seemingly had little trouble finding Kreitzer or anyone else open against Bonner Prendergast’s sluggish defensive effort in the opening half.

Kreitzer has trouble getting open in the second half over Bonner-Prendergast’s stifling defense, but still managed 10 points for a game-high 29.

“We started a little slow in the third quarter and then their defense got to us,” said Kreitzer. “We had trouble with their height and their quickness in the second half.

“We were able to move the ball well on them in the first half and they seemed to be really slow out there. But they played more aggressive in the second half.”

The Trojans played well enough defensively to shut down and hold Miami recruit guard Isaiah Wong and 6-foot-8 multi-recruited Tariq Ingraham scoreless in the opening half, limiting the Friars to 25 points and forcing 12 turnovers.

However, it quickly fizzled on both ends at the start of the third quarter. Nanticoke has five turnovers and five points in the first five minutes.

Wong (nine points, 11 overall) and Ingraham (10 points) combined for 15 points of the Friars’ first 21 points after halftime. Ingraham’s putback gave the Friars the lead for good at 42-39 with 1:34 left in the third quarter.

Donovan Rodriguez led Bonner-Prendergast with 16 points.

“We were pleased with the job we did on Wong as we were pinching him,” added Beggs. “We were excited about our defensive performance and rebounding in the first half. Our players bought into it. Kreitzer had one of his best game and he never gave up.

“But then we started turning the ball over and things started to get away from us.”

Ingraham, who had five of his eight rebounds after halftime, and Wong had consecutive slam dunks that pushed the lead to 58-45 with 3:40 left and took the final wind out of Nanticoke.

Nanticoke Area waved the white flag when all five starters left the game with 1:06 remaining.

“We’re disappointed we came here and lost,” said Beggs. “But that is a number one team, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the final.”

“It’s a tough loss, but we had a good season,” added Kreitzer. “Nanticoke basketball will be in good shape for a while.”

PIAA Class 4A Second Round

Bonner-Prendergast 70, Nanticoke Area 52

NANTICOKE AREA (52) — Nate Kreitzer 10 4-4 29, Colby Butczynski 2 3-4 8 Trahjan Krupinski 2 1-2 6, Jake Krupinski 3 0-0 6, Dylan Szychowski 0 0-0 0, JJ Bielecki 1 0-0 3, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0, Sincere Shiloh 0 0-0 0, Collin Brown 0 0-0 0, Tyler Rushton 0 0-0 0, Ethan Egenski 0 0-0 0 Devon Lehman 0 0-0 0 John Chernowsky 0 0-0 0, Colin Mackiewicz 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-10 52.

BONNER-PRENDERGAST (70) Donovan Rodriguez 5 5-6 16, Tyresse Watson 4 2-4 11, Isaiah Wong 5 -1-1 11, Michael Perretta 0 0-0 0, Tariq Ingraham 3 4-6 10, Malik Edwards 4 0-0 10, Chris Haynes 2 2-2 8, Conor Eagan 0 1-2 1, Shawn Simmons 1 0-0 2 Christion Johnson 0 0-0 0, Cole Ruley 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 15-21 70.

Nanticoke Area`11`22`8`11 – 52

Bonner-Prendergast`8`17`19`26 – 70

Three-point goals – NA 6 (Kreitzer 5, T. Krupinski). BP 7 (Edwards 3, Haynes 2, Watson, Rodriguez)

H.S. Boys Basketball: Nanticoke Area routs Montoursville in Class 4A opener

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Area senior Trahjan Krupinski admitted after Friday night’s PIAA Class 4A boys basketball game that he didn’t know who the famous guy was coaching the opposition.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t know he was a Hall of Famer,” Krupinski said. “I didn’t know who Mike was. You learn something new every day I guess.”

Rest assured the Mike Mussina, the former Major League pitcher who will be inducted on July 21, learned about Krupinski.

The Nanticoke Area senior scored a game-high 22 points and fellow senior Nate Kreitzer added 20 more as the Trojans routed Montoursville 57-35 in a state opener at Wilkes University.

District 2 runner-up Nanticoke Area (21-7) plays in the second round Tuesday against District 12 champion Bonner-Prendergast (19-5). Bonner-Prendergast defeated District 3 fifth Littlestown 64-38 in its opener.

District 4 third seed Montoursville ended its season at 19-9.

“We have some young guys playing,” Mussina said. “We have only one senior that plays and started all year for us. We’ve probably exceeded our expectations getting to this point, at least way back in November when we were getting started.”

Nanticoke Area led wire-to-wire after JJ Bielecki opened the game with a 3-pointer. A 14-0 run that started in the first quarter ona 3-pointer by Krupinski and extended well into the second pushed the Nanticoke Area lead to 32-10.

“We wanted to try to get out and run,” Nanticoke Area John Beggs said. “We wanted to rebound the ball and push it and get some transition looks — either layups or open threes. Early in that second quarter, a couple rebounds led to transition and we able to get some easy basket and extend the lead. It was a good halftime for us.”

The transition strategy never allowed Montoursville to get into a comfortable offensive rhythm. The Warriors shot 1 of 12 in the second quarter, missing their first 10 shots before Dylan Bonner hit the lone bucket with 1:48 left until halftime.

Beggs pulled his starters when the Trojans were ahead 47-17 late in the third quarter, but reinserted them briefly to cut off a 7-0 Montoursville run.

PIAA Class 4A First Round

Nanticoke Area 57, Montoursville 35

MONTOURSVILLE (35) — Dillon Young 2 0-0 4, Josh Burger 3 2-3 10, Peyton Mussina 0 0-0 0, Dylan Bonner 3 0-0 6, Austin Loe 2 0-0 4, Hunter Shearer 1 0-0 3, Brandon Good 1 0-0 3, Jake Simms 1 1-2 3, Isaac Barrett 1 0-0 2, Wyatt Nettling 0 0-0 0, Joel Verrico 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 3-5 35.

NANTICOKE AREA (57) — Nate Kreitzer 7 2-3 20, Colby Butczynski 3 1-2 8, Trahjan Krupinski 10 1-2 22, Jake Krupinski 0 0-0 0, Dylan Szychowski 0 0-0 0, JJ Bielecki 1 0-0 3, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0, Collin Brown 0 0-0 0, Tyler Rushton 0 0-0 0, Joe Fox 0 0-0 0, Brandan Fontaine 0 0-0 0, Sincere Shiloh 2 0-0 4, John Chernowsky 0 0-0 0, Owen Brown 0 0-0 0, Colin Mackiewicz 0 0-0 0, Ethan Egenski 0 0-0 0, Devon Lehman 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 4-7 57.

Montoursville`10`2`7`16 — 35

Nanticoke Area`21`13`13`10 — 57

Three-point goals — MON 4 (Burger 2, Shearer, Good). NA 7 (Kreitzer 4, Butczynski, T.Krupinski, Bielecki).

Nanticoke Area ousts Mussina-coached Montoursville
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area boys basketball is not a mystery.

Do some digging and you’ll learn all about Nate Kreitzer, the all-state senior point guard, as well as the Trojans’ run two years ago that ended in the state semifinals.

All this information — and more — is available to opponents, including Montoursville head coach Mike Mussina.

“I thought we had some good information,” Mussina said. “In this day and age, it’s not hard to get information, get film. We knew what we were up against.”

However, Mussina and his Warriors were overmatched in Friday’s 57-35 loss at the hands of Nanticoke Area in the PIAA Class 4A first round at Wilkes University.

While Montoursville struggled shooting the ball, Kreitzer scored 20 points and 6-foot-4 senior Trahjan Krupinski tallied 22 points.

Krupinski added six rebounds and four steals in about three quarters of play.

“He played extremely well,” Mussina, a newly elected member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, said of Krupinski. “He’s got a lot of tools for his size — range, quickness. He’s just a quality player at his size. It’s tough if you run into a guy with that kind of experience and that kind of skill.”

Montoursville dropped to 19-9 with the season-ending loss, although Mussina said the Warriors, who start only one senior, exceeded preseason expectations.

Meanwhile, Nanticoke Area (22-7) advances in the playoffs with a game Tuesday against Bonner-Prendergast, a 64-38 winner against Littlestown.

Led by four-star guard Isaiah Wong, who’s committed to play at Miami (Fla.), Bonner-Prendergast is the No. 1 Class 4A team in the state.

But don’t expect Nanticoke Area to back down from a challenge, as it showed no nerves whatsoever in Friday’s rout of Montoursville.

“I think we’re experienced,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs, whose starting five is the same as last season. “Two years ago, some of these guys got a taste of a great run. Last year, we were disappointed when we got ran out of the gym in the first round. So, these guys wanted to come back and advance a little bit.”

Friday’s game featured only two lead changes.

The first happened when Montoursville’s Josh Burger made a putback-and-one to give the Warriors a 5-4 lead.

Moments later, Colby Butczynski knocked down a 3-pointer to return a 7-5 lead to Nanticoke Area.

Butczynski struck again for a layup, while Kreitzer hit a 3 and then Krupinski scored three points of his own, completing an 11-0 Nanticoke Area.

The Trojans never looked back.

“Our goal was try to get out and run,” Beggs said. “We wanted to rebound the ball and push it and try to get some transition looks — either layups or open 3s.”

Nanticoke Area executed that perfectly at the start of the second quarter, going on an 11-0 run to make it 32-10.

Krupinski scored three layups during that rally, while Kreitzer made a pull-up 3 and Krupinski also had a steal that turned into a Butczynski fast-break layup.

“I think this is one of my best games so far this year,” Krupinski said. “I wasn’t feeling well this whole week; I was sick. But I knew I had to come out and play hard and help my team win this game.”

Butczynski added eight points for Nanticoke Area, while Burger scored a team-high 10 points for Montoursville.

Nanticoke Area (57)

T. Krupinski 10 1-2 22, N. Kreitzer 7 2-3 20, C. Butczynski 3 1-2 8, S. Shiloh 2 0-0 4, J. Bielecki 1 0-0 3, J. Chernowsky 0 0-0 0, J. Fox III 0 0-0 0, J. Krupinski 0 0-0 0, L. Myers 0 0-0 0, B. Fontaine 0 0-0 0, C. Brown 0 0-0 0, A. Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, T. Rushton 0 0-0 0, D. Lohman 0 0-0 0, C. Mackiewicz 0 0-0 0, O. Brown 0 0-0 0, E. Egenski 0 0-0 0, D. Szychowski 0 0-0 0, Totals 23 4-7 57.

Montoursville (35)

J. Burger 3 2-3 10, D. Bower 3 0-0 6, D. Young 2 0-0 4, A. Loe 2 0-0 4, H. Shearer 1 0-0 3, B. Good 1 0-0 3, J. Simms 1 1-2 3, I. Barrett 1 0-0 2, J. Verrico 0 0-0 0, W. Nettling 0 0-0 0, P. Mussina 0 0-0 0, Totals 14 3-5 35.

Nanticoke Area 21 13 13 10—57

Montoursville 10 2 7 16—35

3-point goals: N. Kreitzer (NA) 4, C. Butczynski (NA) 1, J. Bielecki (NA) 1, T. Krupinski (NA) 1, J. Burger (MON) 2, H. Shearer (MON) 1, B. Good (MON) 1.

H.S. Boys Basketball: Mistakes plague Nanticoke Area in D2-4A championship game

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The first turnover was just one of those things. The next, perhaps, coincidence.

But by midway through the third quarter Saturday afternoon, those turnovers were an epidemic.

So much so that they likely cost Nanticoke Area a chance at the District 2 Class 4A boys basketball title.

Scranton Prep turned those miscues into a rally in the second half as the Cavaliers won their fifth consecutive district title with a 47-41 victory over the Trojans before a large crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena.

“When we watch the film and dissect why we lost this game it’s going to come down to being loose with the basketball in the third quarter,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “They were doing a press that we weren’t familiar with and we were throwing passes away that led to direct baskets.”

That pretty much summed up how the Trojans saw a 23-16 halftime lead disappear by midway through the third quarter. Turnovers added to a pair of three-point plays by Prep’s Leo O’Boyle, who scored his 1,000th career point during the game. A traveling violation put Prep ahead 25-23 at 4:06 of the third on a basket by Rhys Merritt.

“A lot of practice,” Prep guard Mario Rotell explained about his team’s pressure defense. “Obviously, with that there are so many fine-tuning of things that you can’t practice every situation.”

Prep must have practiced the correct ones, though.

Nanticoke Area recovered to tie the score twice in the final two minutes of the third, with the last time on a steal and layup by Nate Kreitzer to knot the game 29-29 entering the fourth.

The Trojans went ahead 30-29 on a free throw by Colby Butzynski to start the fourth quarter before the turnovers resurfaced again. Baskets by O’Boyle and Nick Genco came off Nanticoke Area mistakes and were part of an 8-0 run that put Prep ahead for good.

Nanticoke Area rallied again, cutting the deficit to 43-40 with 1:13 left, and had possession after a defensive rebound by Kreitzer. But on the way down court, the Trojans yet again turned over the ball.

Both teams will return to play on Friday in the PIAA Class 4A state tournament. Scranton Prep (22-3) faces District 3 fourth seed Susquehanna (13-13). Nanticoke Area (21-7) gets District 4 third seed Montoursville (19-8). Montoursville is coached by Mike Mussina, the former Major League pitcher who was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“This is our first medal of any type since 2003,” said Beggs, whose team played in the 4A state playoffs the past two seasons as the district’s third seed. “So it was 16 years since Nanticoke has played in the district finals. We came here for the gold, but we’ll make this a positive experience. We’ll go try to make a state run and compete.”

Jake Krupinski led Nanticoke Area with 13 points. Kreitzer had 10 and played with a wrap on his right wrist. Beggs said that was precautionary after Kreitzer injured it in the district semifinals.

District 2 Class 4A Championship

Scranton Prep 47, Nanticoke Area 41

NANTICOKE AREA (41) — Nate Kreitzer 2 6-8 10, Colby Butczynski 1 3-6 6, Trahjan Krupinski 2 0-0 5, Jake Krupinski 5 1-2 13, Dylan Szychowski 2 0-0 4, JJ Bielecki 0 3-4 3, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, Collin Brown 0 0-0 0, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 13-20 41.

SCRANTON PREP (47) — Brian Bulard 3 0-0 6, Mario Rotell 4 4-4 12, Greyson Schermerhorn 0 1-2 1, Leo O’Boyle 5 8-9 18, Rhys Merritt 3 0-2 6, Nick Genco 1 0-0 2, Jake Strong 0 0-0 0, Mike Skoff 0 2-2 2. Totals 16 15-19 47.

Nanticoke Area`15`8`6`12 — 41

Scranton Prep`6`10`13`18 — 47

Three-point goals — NA 4 (Butczynski, T.Krupinski, J.Krupinski 2).

Cavaliers storm past Trojans, win 5th straight D2 championship
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Somehow, Nanticoke Area had weathered the storm. Two storms, actually.

Forget that Nanticoke Area actually led by 12 points in the first half and by seven at halftime against Scranton Prep.

“They really came out and they just punched us in the mouth,” said Scranton Prep senior guard Mario Rotell.

Nanticoke Area’s early dominance was a distant memory when Scranton Prep — the much bigger and stronger team — struck for an 11-0 run to start the third quarter and an 8-0 run early in the fourth.

Nanticoke Area hung around, though, and shifted momentum all the way back to its side with about 2 minutes left, only to ultimately lose, 47-41, in the District 2 Class 4A boys basketball title game Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

“We knew going into this that we had a big task at-hand,” said Rotell, whose Cavaliers won their fifth straight district championship. “They’re a really good team. Nate Kreitzer is a really great player.”

No. 1 Scranton Prep was bringing the ball up court with a 41-39 lead and a little over 2 minutes remaining, when Nanticoke Area junior Colby Butczynski reached for a cross-court pass and swatted it away.

Butczynski and a Scranton Prep player chased the ball before it bounced out of bounds under the Nanticoke Area basket. Officials rewarded possession to Nanticoke Area.

At that point, Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs was feeling confident, he said.

“We were looking for a clean shot,” Beggs said.

Easier said than done.

Nanticoke Area ran its offense and eventually Kreitzer, the record-breaking senior point guard, attempted a go-ahead 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 1 minute, 50 seconds left on the clock.

Kreitzer was guarded most of the game by multiple defenders, but he had only one player guarding him on this shot — albeit that defender was right in Kreitzer’s face.

“Nate wasn’t open all day, so that was about as open as he was,” Beggs said. “It was a little deep, but he put a good stroke it.

“It just didn’t fall.”

Kreitzer’s shot bounced off the front of the rim and Scranton Prep’s 6-foot-8 center Leo O’Boyle grabbed the rebound.

O’Boyle proceeded to make a jump shot at the other end of the court, and Scranton Prep led by at least three points the rest of the way.

“This is our first medal of any type since 2003,” said Beggs, whose No. 2 Trojans (21-7) still advance to the PIAA tournament beginning Friday. “So, 16 years since Nanticoke played in a district final. We came here for the gold. But we’ll make this a positive experience. We’ll try to make a state run, or at least compete in the first round and see where it goes from there. After a few days, these guys will be resilient and bounce back.”

Sophomore Jake Krupinski played an excellent game for Nanticoke Area, scoring 13 points, including a 3 that gave the Trojans their biggest lead, 18-6, early in the second quarter.

Krupinski also had some crucial layups in the second half when No. 1 Scranton Prep (22-3) began to pull away.

Scranton Prep’s comeback was mostly fueled by an intense pressure defense that gave Nanticoke Area fits, particularly when Nanticoke Area showed signs of fatigue as the game progressed.

“They were doing a press that we were familiar with, and we were throwing passes away that led to direct baskets,” Beggs said. “They had trouble scoring against our set defense. But when you give turnovers that lead to layups, that puts us in trouble.”

O’Boyle, who will play at NCAA Division I Lafayette, scored 18 points, including the 1,000th of his career.

O’Boyle and Rotell, who had 12 points, were particularly important down the stretch.

Rotell had scores that put Scranton Prep ahead by seven points on three different occasions in the fourth quarter.

Nanticoke Area fought back with big scores by Kreitzer and Krupinski, as well as two J.J. Bielecki free throws that made it 41-39. Kreitzer finished with 10 points for Nanticoke Area. Trahjan Krupinski had 10 rebounds to go with five points.

Butczynski’s big shot preserves Nanticoke Area’s title hopes
Matt Bufano – CitizensVoice

Team Win
Nanticoke Area players, from left, Nate Kreitzer, Colby Butczynski and J.J. Bielecki celebrate after Butczynski scored the game-winning shot for a 49-48 win over Tunkhannock in a PIAA District 2 Class 4A semifinal game at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Butczynski scored the game-winning three-point shot with two seconds left on the clock.Christopher Dolan / Staff Photographer

It’s a close game. Just a few seconds left on the clock. The team needs you to make this shot.

Neighbors Nate Kreitzer and Colby Butczynski played this situation out in the backyard countless times while growing up in Nanticoke.

Sometimes, Kreitzer would take the shot. That, or he’d be masquerading as Stephen Curry.

Other times, the game was in Butczynski’s hands, as he pretended to be LeBron James.

“If we missed,” Butczynski said, “we’d keep on going until one of us made it.”

For most, that childhood fantasy remains just that — a fantasy — but Kreitzer and Butczynski brought it to life Saturday night at King’s College.

However, make or miss, there would be no do-overs in Nanticoke Area’s District 2 Class 4A semifinal against Tunkhannock.

Down 48-46 in the final seconds, Nanticoke Area ran its offense hoping to tie the game.

“We were trying to get a quick slip to the basket,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “They defended it well.”

Plan B was to simply get a good look, even if it meant shooting a 3-pointer.

Kreitzer, an all-state point guard, just so happens to be the Trojans’ all-time leader in 3s and he had the ball at the left wing.

But Tunkhannock defenders were all over Kreitzer, who shouldered past two Tigers and allowed himself enough room to pass.

“Nate drew a lot of attention — as he always does — made a great read, and kicked it to Colby,” Beggs said. “And Colby stepped into the shot.”

Butczynski caught the ball beyond the top of the arc and immediately shot it, making a nothing-but-net 3 that put the Trojans ahead for a 49-48 win.

“My teammates and my coaches gave me all the confidence in the world to take that shot,” said Butczynski, who missed all four 3s he’d taken before the game-winner. “I give all the credit to them.”

With the win, Nanticoke Area earned a spot in the state tournament, as well as a meeting 4 p.m. Saturday against Scranton Prep for the district championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It is Nanticoke Area’s boys’ first district title appearance since the games were moved in 2016 to the home of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“I don’t think we’re really going to know the emotions until we step on the floor,” said Kreitzer, a senior. “So, right now, we’re excited for it. I still can’t believe Colby hit that shot to go there.”

Nanticoke Area has had a flair for the dramatic in recent years, playing in — and winning — some of the most memorable and exciting games involving teams in District 2.

“That Nanticoke grit, I guess you could say,” Kreitzer explained. “We just get it done when it needs to be done.”

Last year, when Nanticoke Area eliminated Meyers from the District 2 playoffs, the Trojans were down 48-47 when Jake Krupinski rattled in a game-winning 3.

Once again, it was Kreitzer who found Krupinski and assisted the winning bucket.

“We’re a brotherhood,” Kreitzer said. “It’s not about who hits the shot, it’s that we did it as a team. Colby’s the one who knocked it down; Jake last year; and it’s the same reaction after the game. Everyone’s excited for the player who hit it. It’s not like I wanted to get my shot or anything, it’s not like anyone wanted to take ‘their shot.’ It’s just about us getting it done, together.”

Kreitzer scored a game-high 15 points for the Trojans against Tunkhannock, while Butczynski and Krupinski added 12 points each.

Seniors Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski combined to score the rest of Nanticoke Area’s 10 points in a game where, clearly, every point mattered.


March 11, 2017: Cody Piestrak 14 points in second half of comeback win, 58-56, against Bethlehem Catholic in PIAA 4A first round

March 19, 2017: Trojans make 11 3s in 78-62 win against West Philadelphia in PIAA 4A quarterfinals

Feb. 13, 2018: Nate Kreitzer half-court 3 at buzzer, forcing overtime against Tunkhannock

Feb. 21, 2018: Jake Krupinski 3 for 50-48 win against Meyers in D2 4A quarterfinals

Feb. 23, 2019: Colby Butczynski 3 for 49-48 win against Tunkhannock in D2 4A semifinals

Butczynski’s shot lifts Trojans past Tunkhannock
Tom Fox – Citizens Voice

As soon as the shot flew from Colby Butczynski’s hand, he knew.

He didn’t need to wait to play the final 2.8 seconds. The Nanticoke Area junior understood what was happening.

“As soon as I shot it, I knew it was going in and we were going to play for the championship,” he said.

He was right.

Taking a picture-perfect pass from Nate Kreitzer, Butczynski spotted up at the top of the arc and ripped the nylon with a game-winning 3-pointer as Nanticoke Area held off upset-minded Tunkhannock, 49-48, Saturday night at King’s College.

The win vaults the Trojans into the District 2 Class 4A championship Saturday against top-seed Scranton Prep.

“We worked all year for this, and it finally came true,” Butczynski said. “Everyone on this team dreamt of this moment, the chance to play for a district title. I can’t wait.”

It was one of those moments you live for. The opportunity to send your school to a championship and into the state playoffs. The type of memories that are talked about in communities for years to come.

Butczynski found himself in the perfect spot to play the hero role.

Just 20 seconds prior, it was Tunkhannock’s Ryan Harder that carried that label as he canned a 3-pointer from the wing — one of nine trifectas on the night for the Tigers — giving the No. 6 seed a 48-46 lead with mere seconds left.

Following a timeout, the Trojans ran their offense — not necessarily looking for the 3-pointer, but rather the best opportunity to score.

It just so happened Kreitzer found his teammate after driving toward the middle of the lane, drawing multiple Tiger defenders with him.

“I felt like three guys around me, so I knew that someone was open,” Kreitzer said. “I saw Colby’s guy came into the paint when I drove, and I saw him wide open. He stuck it. We talk about it all the time in the backyard, and he stuck it. The way he released it, the shot looked perfect.”

The junior did the rest, spotting up and hitting the shot with 2.8 seconds left. That’s when the emotions hit Butczynski as he threw a Tiger Woods-like first-pump in the air as teammates mobbed him with chest bumps at the foul line.

“I knew I was taking it as soon as Nate threw it to me. I give Nate all the credit for finding me open,” Butczynski said. “That was an amazing pass.”

Tunkhannock had one final opportunity, but the turn-around jumper from near the top of the key didn’t fall. The Tigers’ season is still alive as the team faces off with Western Wayne on Tuesday with the winner moving into the state tournament as the district’s No. 3 seed.

“We played these guys great the last two times we played them. We knew it would be a battle. The emotions were high. The kids never quit, but give Nanticoke credit as well because they played hard the whole game,” Tunkhannock coach Spencer Lunger said. “They just made one more shot than us. It stings, but we are playing at a high level right now. We have to get back in the gym because we still have that chance to go to states.”

Back-and-forth doesn’t describe it accurately. It was more of a roller-coaster ride with millions of dips, twists and jaw-dropping hills.

The lead switched five times alone in the fourth quarter — four times in the final minute. Jack Chilson’s jumper in the lane gave the Tigers a one-point lead with 59 ticks left. Kreitzer took the inbound pass and went the length of the court in seven seconds for a layup and a 46-45 edge.

It was Tunkhannock’s turn to answer, and Harder didn’t disappoint. Tyler Faux threw a pass to Chilson inside the lane, who immediately found Harder for a wide-open trifecta on the right wing for a 48-46 lead with 20 seconds left.

Just enough time for Butczynski.

“These guys have been through a lot of tough games recently — a lot of close games, too,” Nanticoke head coach John Beggs said. “We have confidence in all of our players that they are going to make a good decision. The shot doesn’t always fall, but I knew we would get a good shot at the end.”

Kreitzer had a game-high 15 points, while Butczynski and Jake Krupinski each added 12. Tunkhannock had three players with nine points — Harder, Avery Billings and Nick Reposa. Faux, coming off a 35-point effort against Valley View, was held to eight points on 3 of 10 shooting.

Tunkhannock (48)

N. Reposa 3 0-0 9, A. Billings 3 3-3 9, R. Harder 3 0-0 9, T. Faux 3 0-0 8, J. Robinson 3 0-0 7, J. Chilson 3 0-0 6, E. Bennett 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 3-3 48.

Nanticoke Area (49)

N. Kreitzer 7 0-0 15, C. Butczynski 5 1-2 12, J. Krupinski 5 1-1 12, T. Krupinski 4 0-0 8, D. Szychowski 1 0-1 2, A. Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, J. Bielecki 0 0-0 0, Totals 22 2-4 49.

Tunkhannock 9 11 16 12—48

Nanticoke Area 7 17 10 15—49

3-point goals: N. Reposa (Tunk) 3, R. Harder (Tunk) 3, T. Faux (Tunk) 2, J. Robinson (Tunk) 1, N. Kreitzer (NA) 1, C. Butczynski (NA) 1, J. Krupinski (NA) 1.

H.S. Basketball: Last-second shot gives Nanticoke Area win in D2-4A semifinals
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Nanticoke Area junior Colby Butczynski woke up Saturday morning and relived a nightmare.

Thanks to his shot, there were certainly sweet dreams Saturday night.

Butczynski nailed a 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left as the Trojans escaped with a 49-48 victory over Tunkhannock in a District 2 Class 4A boys basketball semifinal game at King’s College.

The victory came on the same court where Nanticoke Area had its D2-4A title hopes dashed a season ago in the semifinals against Valley View. That loss weighed on Butczynski’s mind.

“When I first woke up, my first thought was about Valley View and how we have bad luck in this gym,” Butczynski said. “We wanted to break that bad luck here and go home winners and get to the championship.”

Mission accomplished — barely. Nanticoke Area (21-6) will play Scranton Prep (21-3) at 4 p.m. next Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena for the title. But it took 32 minutes of frantic basketball, including a Tunkhannock shot hitting off the rim at the buzzer, to get there.

Tunkhannock took a 48-46 lead with 30 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Ryan Harder. It marked the 12th time the lead changed hands in the second half.

Then came the lucky 13th lead change for the Trojans.

After the inbound pass, Butczynski made a cut to the basket and was hit in stride with a pass from Nate Kreitzer. Tunkhannock’s big men clogged Butczynski’s path, so he swung the ball outside to JJ Bielecki, Nanticoke Area’s sixth man. Bielecki had a decent look at the basket, but he elected to get the ball back to Kreitzer. Tunkhannock swarmed the 3-point ace and he passed to Butczynski at the top of the arc.

Swish. A 49-48 lead that held up when Tunkhannock missed an 18-footer at the buzzer.

“I figured (Colby’s shot) was going to go in,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “He’s a confident player. He’s hit a lot of big shots for us over the years, so I was more confident in what defense we were going to play when it went in.”

The win also gave Nanticoke Area a third consecutive spot in the PIAA Class 4A state playoffs. The Trojans had to win a third-place game the past two years to make states. That’s Tunkhannock’s task now.

Tunkhannock (14-10) will plays Western Wayne (13-11) in the third-place game Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. But the Tigers were oh-so-close of heading to the championship game.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Tunkhannock coach Spencer Lunger, whose team defeated Nanticoke Area 45-44 on Feb. 7. “The emotions were high. We got down a little bit and came back. My kids never quit. Hats off to Nanticoke on how well they’re coached and how well they played.

“They just made one more shot than us. It stings now, but I told the kids we’re playing at a high level right now and we got get back in the gym tomorrow and get ready for Western Wayne on Tuesday.”

The biggest lead all game was six points, with the final time at 4:55 of the third when Nanticoke Area’s Jake Krupinski hit a drive for a 28-22 advantage. Tunkhannock came right back to take a 30-28 lead as Tyler Faux capped an 8-0 run with a 3-pointer set up by a block by Avery Billings on the defensive end.

The Tigers lost and regained the lead twice in the final minutes of the third, both times going ahead on 3-pointers by Nick Reposa.

Three of Tunkhannock’s last five games have been decided by a point.

District 2 Class 4A semifinal

Nanticoke Area 49, Tunkhannock 48

TUNKHANNOCK (48) — Ryan Harder 3 0-0 9, Jack Chilson 3 0-0 6, Erik Bennett 0 0-0 0, Avery Billings 3 3-3 9, Tyler Faux 3 0-0 8, Jaren Robinson 3 0-0 7, Nick Reposa 3 0-0 9. Totals 22 2-4 48.

NANTICOKE AREA (49) — Nate Kreitzer 7 0-0 15, Colby Butczynski 5 1-2 12, Jake Krupinski 5 1-1 12, Trahjan Krupinski 4 0-0 8, Dylan Szychowski 1 0-1 2, JJ Bielecki 0 0-0 0, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 2-4 49.

Tunkhannock`9`11`16`12 — 48

Nanticoke Area`7`17`10`15 — 49

Three-point goals — TUN 8 (Harder 3, Faux 2, Robinson, Reposa 2). NA 3 (Kreitzer, Butczynski, J.Krupinski).

Trojans get past Hawkeyes
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice

Jake Krupinski made himself right at home Thursday night at Wyoming Area, once again.

Krupinski returned to the site where he hit a game-winning 3-pointer a year ago against Meyers and turned in another memorable performance, leading all scorers with 20 points in a 65-45 Nanticoke Area win against Hanover Area in the District 2 Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinals.

“Very good player last year,” Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs said of Krupinski, a sophomore who started last season as a freshman. “This year, he’s better defensively, first of all, which is key for our team to advance. He’s shooting it with confidence. Last year, he made a huge shot up here against Meyers to send us to the second round of the playoffs, and now he just picked up in the same gym where we left off.”

Krupinski’s scoring average is up to 9.3 points per game, the result of more game experience, as well as offseason work done by himself and his teammates.

“In the offseason, we lifted a little bit, so I got a little bit stronger,” Krupinski said. “Worked on my ballhandling a bit, my shooting.”

Colby Butczynski tallied 15 points for Nanticoke Area, which got 10 points from Nate Kreitzer, as well.

Nanticoke Area led 22-9 at the end of the first quarter and kept adding on from there, leading 36-22 and 54-30 at the end of the second and third quarters, respectively.

The win advances No. 2 Nanticoke Area (20-6) into a semifinal Saturday against No. 6 Tunkhannock, which upset No. 3 Valley View, 59-51, in the quarterfinals.

Two weeks ago, Nanticoke Area also fell victim to Tunkhannock, upset by the Tigers 45-44.

“After we lost, we watched some film, learned our mistakes, and I think we’re going to be ready for them this time,” Krupinski said.

Hanover Area’s season came to a close at 10-13.

Khairi Carson (15 points) and Asad Whitehead (13) led the Hawkeyes in scoring.

Evan Materna scored nine points on three 3s, all in the first half.

Hanover Area (45)

Nanticoke Area rolls past Hanover Area
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Plan A worked well for Hanover Area on Thursday night. But against Nanticoke Area, Plans B, C and D also must be accomplished.

They weren’t.

While Hanover Area was able to curtail Nanticoke Area sharpshooter Nate Kreitzer, the Hawkeyes couldn’t stop either Jake Krupinski or Colby Butczynski. The duo burned Hanover Area for a combined 35 points as Nanticoke Area posted a 65-45 victory in a District 2 Class 4A boys basketball quarterfinal game.

Nanticoke Area (20-6) plays Tunkhannock (14-9) on Saturday in the semifinals. Tunkhannock bumped off Valley View 59-51 in its quarterfinal game.

“Tunkhannock just beat us recently,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “They’re very tough and well coached. We’re excited to get a rematch with them and get to the arena (for the championship game).”

Hanover Area ended its season at 10-13.

“We wanted to come out and disrupt Kreitzer as much as humanly possible,” Hanover Area coach Chris Gray said. “They kind of go as he goes with their offense. We thought if we could make him uncomfortable and make him work hard hard for things, as long as the other guys didn’t kill us early we should be in position to do something in the second half.

“Unfortunately, everybody else killed us early.”

Krupinski was the main assassin. He poured in 13 points in the first quarter, including 10 in Nanticoke Area’s 13-0 run to end the period. Butczynski closed out the initial eight minutes with a 3-pointer as the Trojans brought a 22-9 lead into the second quarter.

“It was pretty important because we knew if we let them get on a roll they would get hyped up and wouldn’t stop,” Krupinski said. “We had to step on them first before they stepped on us.”

The Trojans maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way. JJ Bielecki came off the bench for a pair of 3-pointers in the second period as Nanticoke Area coasted into halftime ahead 36-22.

Kreitzer finally got some good looks at the basket in the second half to finished with 10 points. His only 3-pointer of the game with seven minutes left increased the lead to 59-30. Butczynski ended his night a short time later with his final points before a wave of reserves for both teams finished off the contest.

Asad Whitehead and Khairi Carson scored 15 each for Hanover Area. 

K. Carson 7 0-0 15, A. Whitehead 5 3-5 13, E. Materna 3 0-0 9, J. Curcio 1 2-2 4, A. George 1 0-0 2, L. Nelson 1 0-0 2, C. Cribbs 0 0-0 0, M. Barber 0 0-0 0, T. Kolbicka 0 0-0 0, J. Kopko 0 0-0 0, Totals 18 5-7 45.

Nanticoke Area (65)

J. Krupinski 8 1-2 20, C. Butczynski 7 0-0 15, N. Kreitzer 3 3-4 10, J. Bielecki 2 0-0 6, T. Krupinski 2 0-0 4, D. Szychowski 2 0-0 4, A. Kozlofski 1 0-0 2, L. Myers 1 0-0 2, S. Shiloh 1 0-0 2, D. Lohman 0 0-2 0, C. Mackiewicz 0 0-0 0, O. Brown 0 0-0 0, E. Egenski 0 0-0 0, T. Rushton 0 0-0 0, J. Chernowsky 0 0-0 0, J. Fox III 0 0-0 0, B. Fontaine 0 0-0 0, C. Brown 0 0-0 0, Totals 27 4-8 65.

Hanover Area 9 13 8 15—45

Nanticoke Area 22 14 18 11—65

3-point goals: E. Materna (HA) 3, K. Carson (HA) 1, J. Krupinski (NA) 3, J. Bielecki (NA) 2, N. Kreitzer (NA) 1, C. Butczynski (NA) 1.

Basketball coaches All-WVC teams
Staff  Reports -  Citizens Voice

The Wyoming Valley Conference basketball coaches recently released their all-conference teams, Most Valuable Players and Coaches of the Year from the season.

On the boys side, MVP honors went to three seniors who led their teams to division championships.

Hazleton Area’s Da’mir Faison earned the top prize in Division 1. Nate Kreitzer of Nanticoke Area was the MVP in Division 2. Dimitri Gnall of Wyoming Seminary was MVP in Division 3.

Hazleton Area’s Mike Joseph, Nanticoke Area’s John Beggs and Sem’s Pete Moses were selected as the top coaches.

All-Wyoming Valley Conference

Boys  - Division 2

MVP: Nate Kreitzer, Nanticoke Area

Coach of the year: John Beggs, Nanticoke Area

First team

Will Johnson, GAR

Tyler Faux, Tunkhannock

Kendall Brewster, Meyers

Trahjan Krupinski, Nanticoke Area

Colby Butczynski, Nanticoke Area

Second team

Zach Evans, Berwick

Cole Walker, Meyers

Jared O’Day, GAR

Jake Krupinski, Nanticoke Area

Ryan Harder, Tunkhannock

H.S. Boys Basketball: Da’Mir Faison, Nate Kreitzer, Dimitri Gnall named divisional MVPs
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The Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball coaches selected their divisional MVPs, all-stars and coaches of the year Sunday afternoon.

Hazleton Area’s Da’Mir Faison was selected the Division 1 MVP, Nanticoke Area’s Nate Kreitzer was picked the Division 2 MVP and Wyoming Seminary’s Dimitri Gnall was chosen the Division 3 MVP.

Coaches of the year were: Hazleton Area’s Mike Joseph, Division 1; Nanticoke Area’s John Beggs, Division 2; and Wyoming Seminary’s Pete Moses, Division 3.

Joining Faison on the Division 1 first-team all-stars were Dallas’ Jack Farrell, Crestwood’s Camden Boris and Sean Murphy, Hazleton Area’s Sparky Wolk and Pittston Area’s Brennan Higgins.

Kreitzer’s teammates on the Division 2 first-team were Nanticoke Area teammates Colby Butczynski and Trahjan Krupinski, GAR’s Will Johnson, Meyers’ Kendall Brewster and Tunkhannock’s Tyler Faux.

Besides Gnall, the other Division 3 first-team all-stars were Hanover Area’s Asad Whitehead, Holy Redeemer’s Collin Cook and Nick Prociak, MMI Prep’s Matt Marchetti and Northwest’s Jaxson Yaple.

The Division 1 second-team consisted of Coughlin’s Tony Egidio, Crestwood’s Ryan Petrosky and Mike Palmiero, Dallas’ Nick Nocito and Pittston Area’s Mike George.

Named to the Division 2 second-team were Berwick’s Zach Evans, GAR’s Jared O’Day, Meyers’ Cole Walker, Nanticoke Area’s Jake Krupinski and Tunkhannock’s Ryan Harder.

Division 3 second-team picks were Wyoming Seminary’s Nick Ganter and Jeremy Callahan, Hanover Area’s Khairi Carson, Lake-Lehman’s Max Paczewski and Northwest’s Sam Saxe.

Rosters set for Moses Senior All-Star Classic

The rosters were selected for the 50th annual Dr. George P. Moses Senior All-Star Classic.

The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, April 5, at Holy Redeemer High School. The girls game will be played at 6:30 p.m. The preliminary rounds of the 3-point contest will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, April 1, at Coughlin. The finals will be held at halftime of the game.

Although team names weren’t chosen, the coaches decided to have all three Wilkes-Barre Area school — Coughlin, GAR and Meyers — on one roster. Those schools will be merging athletic programs for the 2019-20 school year. That team will be coached by Coughlin’s Mike Day, GAR’s Jerry Altavilla and Meyers’ Pat Toole.

Players selected to the team were: Aaron Bennett and Tony Egidio, Coughlin; Justin Finarelli, Dallas; Will Johnson, Jared O’Day and Tyler Young, GAR; Da’Mir Faison, Kyle Franek, Warren Seigendall and Sparky Wolk, Hazleton Area; Collin Cook and Nick Prociak, Holy Redeemer; Keegan Brewster and Kendall Brewster, Meyers; Bryce Koser, Sam Saxe, Tyler Stevens and Jaxson Yaple, Northwest; Danny Gibbons, Wyoming Valley West.

Nanticoke Area’s John Beggs and Tunkhannock’s Spencer Lunger will coach the other squad.

Players chosen to the team were: Zach Evans, Berwick; Camden Boris, Frank Casarella, Sean Murphy and Mike Palmiero, Crestwood; Justin Kopko and Evan Materna, Hanover Area; CJ Cercone, Lake-Lehman; Matt Marchetti, MMI Prep; Nate Kreitzer, Trahan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski, Nanticoke Area; Sevion Leak, Pittston Area; Avery Billings, Tyler Faux and Nick Reposa, Tunkhannock; Dan Wiedl, Wyoming Area; Nick Ganter and Dimitri Gnall, Wyoming Seminary.

Trojans fall in the WVC Boys Basketball Championship

Wyoming Seminary 53, Nanticoke Area 43

NANTICOKE AREA (43) — Nate Kreitzer 6 0-0 14, Dylan Szychowski 2 0-0 4, Colby Butczynski 1 0-0 2, Trahjan Krupinski 5 1-1 13, Jake Krupinski 2 0-0 4, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0, JJ Bielecki 2 0-0 6, Collin Brown 0 0-0 0, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, Brandon Fontaine 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 1-1 43.

WYO. SEMINARY (53) — Jake Koretz 4 3-4 13, Todd Phillips 1 2-2 4, Jeremy Callahan 3 3-4 12, Dimitri Gnall 6 0-0 12, Nick Ganter 2 0-0 4, Nick Bufalino 0 0-0 0, Ryan Anderson 0 0-0 0, Ethan Meuser 3 2-2 8. Totals 19 10-12 53.

Nanticoke Area`15`14`4`10 — 43

Wyo. Seminary`13`8`7`25 —53

Three-point goals — NAN 6 (Kreitzer 2, Bielecki 2, T. Krupinski 2); SEM 5 (Callahan 3, Koretz 2)

Nanticoke Area rallies from 18 down to stun Hazleton Area
Dave Seamon – Citizens Voice

Maybe there really isn’t too large a deficit for Nate Kreitzer and Nanticoke Area to overcome.

Fresh off digging out of a 13-point hole to down GAR in the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 title game, the Trojans rallied from 18 down in the second half to stun Hazleton Area, 68-64, in a WVC boys basketball semifinal on Friday night at Dallas High School.

Once again, the sharpshooting Kreitzer was primarily responsible for the comeback with 35 points, including eight 3-pointers from all sorts of angles and distances. Twenty-six of his points and seven of his triples came in the second half as the Trojans turned a 34-16 deficit into a another triumph and a spot in the conference’s first overall title game.

Colby Butczynski’s free throw snapped a 64-all tie with 23.6 seconds left. Kreitzer later sank 3 of 4 free throws in the waning seconds to cap the Trojans’ second big-time comeback in three nights.

“Once we get that mentality, we can win every game,” Kreitzer said. “We come out and fight the Nanticoke way, and that’s what we do every time we’re out on the floor.”

After making their first four shots from the field, the Trojans (19-5) hit just 2 of 13 over the final 12-plus minutes of the first half.

The Cougars, meanwhile, shot 11 of 19 from the floor in the first half, getting 11 points from Kyle Franek and 10 more from Da’mir Faison. They also were outhustling the Trojans to loose balls and controlling the boards on the way to a 31-16 halftime lead.

“We played as well defensively over the first 16 minutes as you can play against them,” Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. “But I’m not so sure we left the locker room (after halftime) thinking about winning the basketball. … I think we left (the locker room) thinking, ‘Let me get mine,’ or that we we’re going against one of the best guards (Kreitzer) in the state.”

Warren Seigendall’s rare triple opened the second-half scoring for the Cougars, stretching their advantage to 18.

Enter Kreitzer.

The senior started to heat up, pulling the Trojans within 39-29 with 4:58 left in the third quarter.

“I’m just thinking, ‘We’ve got to get back in the game, so I’m just gonna keep shooting,’” Kreitzer said. “And I was hot.”

Hazleton Area worked its lead back to 46-29. That’s when Kreitzer’s teammates got more involved in the scoring. Trahjan Krupinski had his personal five-point run, Butczynski freed himself for four straight points and Jake Krupinski added another four, before another Kreitzer howitzer from deep beat the third-quarter buzzer to chop Hazleton Area’s lead to 50-45.

“He has great confidence and his teammates have great confidence in him,” Nanticoke head coach John Beggs said of Kreitzer. “He’s one of those guys who, once he makes one or two, the basket just opens up and becomes very large for him.”

Kreitzer started the final period with yet another triple, but Andrew Vayda’s own 3-pointer, a Faison basket and two Seigendall free throws again extended Hazleton Area’s lead.

With the Cougars ahead by eight, Kreitzer wrapped two more triples around a Vayda layup that left the Trojans behind 62-58 at the 2:58 mark.

“We called timeouts. … We tried to identify things on defense,” Joseph said. “We literally let Kreitzer go a couple of times to guard somebody else who would not have shot the ball.”

Butczynski swished a triple from the corner to get the Trojans as close as they had been since the first quarter. Following a Cougar turnover, Trahjan Krupinski made a free throw to tie it at 62.

Faison gave the Cougars their last lead with a basket with 1:19 left until Trahjan Krupinski’s hoop off a Kreitzer feed tied it back up.

“They had 10 fouls for the last six-and-a-half minutes, and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Joseph said.

Butczynski hit a foul shot to give the Trojans the lead and Kreitzer added two more for a three-point edge with 20 seconds left.

A few more foul shots and another Nanticoke Area comeback was complete.

“It’s getting very close to it,” Beggs said, when asked if there any deficit too large for his Trojans to overcome. “I would prefer starting off a lot better.”

Friday’s finish, though, earned Nanticoke Area a chance at winning the WVC’s first overall championship.

The Trojans can do that with a win over Wyoming Seminary tonight at Hazleton Area High School.

The Blue Knights beat Crestwood 56-50 in Friday’s other semifinal.

Kreitzer hits 8 3-pointers in Nanticoke boys basketball league semi win

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Left to Right: Colby Butczynski, Nate Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski,
Photos by: Bill Tarutis for Times Leader

There was a time in his most prolific basketball career when Nate Kreitzer had tons of trouble trying to make a basket from the field.

“I was in seventh grade, I couldn’t hit an open shot,” Kreitzer said. “I just kept working, in AAU, in school ball.

“It takes a long time.”

That now seems like a lifetime ago.

Kreitzer swished eight 3-point field goals, erupted for 35 points Friday and brought Nanticoke Area back from an 18-point second-half deficit to stun Hazleton Area 68-64 in a boys basketball semifinal of the inaugural Wyoming Valley Conference Championships at Dallas High School.

“Once we got hot, we know what we could do as a team,” Kreitzer said. “We have the most swagger as a team. It’s incredible. History.

“First time ever.”

Division 2 champion Nanticoke Area (19-5) will face Division 3 champion Wyoming Seminary (21-2) for the initial WVC boys overall league title at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hazleton Area High School.

Hazleton Area fell to 16-7 and will be off until the District 2 Class 6A tournament opens next week.

“We were right there with a chance to play in our home gym tomorrow,” a disappointed Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said. “Somebody else is going to play in our gym for a championship.”

All because it was pretty impossible to stop one of the smallest guys on the floor.

The 5-foot-10 Kreitzer got loose for seven points in the opening quarter to help the Trojans stay close, but was held to the only two points Nanticoke Area scored in the second quarter as Hazleton Area rolled into halftime with a 31-16 lead.

Da’Mir Faison scored 10 of his team-high 20 points over the first two quarters, Kyle Franek popped in 11 of his 15 and the Cougars took an 18-point lead after Sparky Wolk’s 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second half.

“We were in complete and total control of the basketball game for the first 17 minutes,” Joseph said.

Then Kreitzer snatched it away.

He buried two 3-point bombs well behind the arc and Jake Krupinski drove for a bucket as the Trojans tore off an eight-point run to pull within 10.

Andrew Vayda and Faison each scored four points to help keep the Cougars’ lead in double digits, but Nanticoke Area wouldn’t go away.

Kreitzer’s third 3-pointer of the second half closed the gap to 10 again, and Colby Butczynski hit back-to-back buckets to bring the Trojans within 48-38 with 1:50 remaining in the third period.

Turns out, Kreitzer and the Trojans were just warming up.

Krupinski hit two free throws and an inside basket in a 34-second span to cut Hazleton Area’s lead to six points, then Kreitzer made a 24-foot trey three seconds before the buzzer.

That sent the Cougars into the fourth quarter desperately clinging to a five-point lead.

“You can’t stop playing against a guy like Nate Kreitzer,” Joseph said. “He’s a hell of a player. He’s outstanding. We’ve seen that for the last three years.

“He’s a hell of a shooter.”

As it turned out, he shot Hazleton Area’s lights out of the league playoffs.

Kreitzer buried his sixth 3-pointer two seconds into the final quarter, giving him two straight long-range bombs of over 20 feet in a five-second span. And suddenly, Nanticoke Area was within two points.

“Nate has in-the-gym range,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “He steps on the court, he’s in range.”

Suddenly, so were the Trojans.

It was the start of a 12-point fourth quarter for Kreitzer that completed his 26-point second half and carried the Trojans straight to the title game.

His seventh 3-pointer with 3:32 to go pulled Nanticoke Area within five points again.

“First of all, he has great confidence,” Beggs said. “And when he makes one or two, the basket just opens up and becomes very large for him.”

That large lead Hazleton Area once held fell to four points again when Kreitzer swished his eighth trey to pull the Trojans within 62-58 with 2:58 to play.

“I just don’t really think about it, I just shoot the ball,” Kreitzer said. “It falls for me. I just get it and shoot it. You can’t think about it too much.”

Thinking victory was in their grasp, the Trojans turned things up.

Butczynski, the leader of a press defense that frazzled the Cougars through the second half, let loose with a 3-pointer with 1:56 to play to pull the Trojans within a point, then Trahjan Krupinski’s used a free throw to tie the score at 62-62 with 94 seconds remaining, then tied it again with a layup with 36 seconds to play.

Butczynski used a free throw to give Nanticoke Area its first lead — 65-64 with 23 seconds to play — since Trahjan Krupinski opened the scoring with a 3-pointer.

“Nate Kreitzer started shooting it,” Beggs said, “everybody else followed him, started making plays. Once we got it close, the fans started rocking. The guys are resilient, they’re a good group.

“It was an exciting ending.”

But it was Kreitzer who started the improbable comeback, so it was Kreitzer who finished it.

His two foul shots with 20 seconds on the clock gave Nanticoke Area a three-point lead, and his free throw with less than a second remaining set the final score.

“We just have that mentality in our head that we can come back from anything,” Kreitzer said. “The whole team had that confidence.”

WVC Championships Semifinal

Nanticoke Area 68, Hazleton Area 64

NANTICOKE AREA (68) — Jake Krupinski 2 2-2 6, Colby Butczynski 4 3-6 12, Dylan Szychowski 0 0-0 0, Trahjan Krupinski 6 2-3 15, Nate Kreitzer 12 3-5 35, Andy Kozlofski 0 0-0 0, J.J. Bielecki 0 0-0 0, Luke Myers 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 10-16 68.

HAZLETON AREA (64) — Andrew Vayda 5 0-0 11, Sparky Wolk 2 0-2 5, Kyle Franek 4 6-9 15, Da’Mir Faison 7 4-7 20, Warren Seigendall 1 2-2 5, Scotty Campbell 3 2-4 8, Jacxander Moronta 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 14-24 64.

Nanticoke Area`14`2`29`23 — 68

Hazleton Area`18`13`19`14 — 64

Three-point goals — NAN 10 (Kreitzer 8, T. Krupinski, Butzcynski); HAZ 6 (Faison 2, Franek, Wolk, Seigendall, Vayda).

Nanticoke Area rallies for Division 2 title
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice
2018 Division 2

Panic? No such thing for the Nanticoke Area Trojans.

The most veteran lineup in the Wyoming Valley Conference faced an early 13-point deficit, but, once again, ended Wednesday night as champions.

All-state senior point guard Nate Kreitzer scored a game-high 23 points and junior Colby Butczynski tied a season-high with 19 points, leading Nanticoke Area to a 60-49 win against GAR at Pittston Area.

After going into halftime down 32-24, Nanticoke Area well outplayed GAR in the second half, as the win broke a tie for the WVC Division 2 regular-season title.

“At halftime, I think we were honest with the seniors,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “We put a lot of emphasis on what we thought we lacked in the first half, and we challenged those guys to lead us. We knew we wouldn’t be able to do it without ’em. They answered the call, the younger guys followed their lead, and here we are with our second consecutive division championship.”

Nanticoke Area has the same starting five as last season — seniors Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski, Butczynski and sophomore Jake Krupinski — and that experience helped steady the Trojans during Wednesday’s most perilous moments.

After GAR guard Will Johnson, the WVC’s leading scorer, knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Grenadiers a 30-17 lead in the second quarter, GAR’s Curon Smith swatted a block out of bounds with great authority.

GAR appeared to be in total control.

“Coach just kept on giving us encouragement,” Butczynski said. “He told us to keep fighting and we’ll win. On the court, we just talked about how we’re still in this — one basket will change the whole entire game — and we kept our heads up and we played until the end.”

From that point, Nanticoke Area kept eating away at the GAR lead until it finally took its first lead with 1:12 left in the third quarter.

That’s when Andy Kozlofski, who came off the bench, knocked down a jumper from the foul line to put Nanticoke Area ahead 42-41.

“He’s been contributing in our games recently,” Beggs said of Kozlofski. “He’s been shooting it really well. His confidence right now is probably at the highest it’s been, so we wanted to give him an opportunity on offense when things weren’t going our way. He stepped up and hit a couple clutch shots.”

The lead grew from there, as Kreitzer hit a 3-pointer to make it 45-41 entering the final quarter.

Kreitzer dished a perfect pass to Trahjan Krupinski for a layup to start the fourth quarter, kicking off a final period in which Nanticoke Area outscored GAR 15-8.

GAR head coach Jerry Altavilla said he warned his team at halftime to prepare for a rally from Nanticoke Area, although the Grenadiers did little to stop what wound up being a game-deciding run.

“We started playing a little tighter, our shots weren’t falling, their shots started falling,” Altavilla said.

Butczynski and Kreitzer iced the win down the stretch, going a combined 9 of 9 on free throws in the fourth quarter.

Butczynski backed his 19 points with three steals. The Trojans had 10 steals total.

“Colby came out in the second half and was assertive getting to the rim,” Beggs said. “His defense was good. His leadership was good. He was clutch at the free throw line, so he was one of those guys who followed the seniors’ lead.”

Butczynski said of the Trojans’ senior trio of starters: “We looked at the seniors for the guidance to help us get through the tough times. They brought us up and it made us play better.”

Johnson led GAR (15-8, 12-5 WVC) with 13 points, while Jared O’Day hit four 3s for 12 points. Curtis Smith added 11 points and Curon Smith 10.

With the win, Nanticoke Area (18-5, 12-5 WVC) advanced to play in the conference championship tournament. It’s expected to play Friday against Hazleton Area.

H.S. Boys Basketball: Nanticoke Area defeats GAR for WVC Division 2 championship
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Had the Nanticoke Area Trojans taken care of business last week, they would have been home Wednesday night.

Instead, there they were at Pittston Area High School, fighting to keep their Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 boys basketball crown and losing the battle.

Nanticoke Area, though, dug itself out of a 13-point hole with strong ending of the second quarter that carried over to the third in its 60-49 victory over GAR.

Nanticoke Area’s second consecutive divisional title clinched a spot in the inaugural WVC Championship tournament.

The Trojans (13-5 Div. 2, 18-5) play Division 1 champion Hazleton Area (14-2 Div. 1, 15-6) in the semifinals Friday at Dallas High School. Wild-card entry Crestwood (14-3 Div. 1, 18-5) faces Division 3 champ Wyoming Seminary (15-1 Div. 3, 20-2) in the other semifinal.

Game times will be 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., but it hasn’t been determined which semifinal will be first. The championship game is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hazleton Area.

GAR (12-6 Div. 2, 15-8) will be off until next week’s District 2 Class 4A playoffs, although it appeared early on that the Grenadiers would be playing Friday.

GAR jumped to an 8-0 start and behind the 3-point shooting of Jared O’Day took a 30-17 lead with 2:20 left until halftime. It was a shock to Nanticoke Area, which had the division in its hands by defeating GAR on Feb. 5 only to lose 44-43 to Tunkhannock two days later.

“These guys are excited,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “I came in (the locker room) and they wanted to bust my chops and throw a little water around. For them to bounce back after we didn’t take care of business last week after a game we thought we could have won. The first half didn’t go our way, but these guys were resilient. The second half was phenomenal.”

Nanticoke Area had sporadic continuity on offense until reserve Andy Kozlofski nailed a 3-pointer to start a 7-2 run to close out the quarter.

Colby Butczynski provided a jolt with a power move inside for a basket to start the third and Nanticoke Area was on its way to erasing the deficit for good. That finally happened at 1:12 of the third when Trahjan Krupinski rebounded his own miss and kicked the ball out to Kozlofski for a jumper at the foul line. Nate Kreitzer finished off the period with his fourth 3-pointer of the game for a 45-41 advantage.

The Grenadiers were outscored 21-9 in the third as they were plagued by six turnovers.

“Just more intensity,” Butczynski said. “We kept the same plan as we did from the beginning of the game.”

Things didn’t improve for GAR in the fourth as Kreitzer opened the quarter with a drive and a dish to Krupinski. An 8-2 run a bit later bumped the Nanticoke Area lead to 56-45 and pretty much wrapped up the championship.

“At halftime, we talked about them going on a run. They were favored to win the division all year,” GAR coach Jerry Altavilla said. “They’re a good team and we knew they would go on a run. We didn’t weather that run too good.”

GAR had just six field goals in the second half as it was outscored 36-17 in the final two quarters. Will Johnson scored 13, O’Day had 12 and Curtis Smith added 11 for the Grenadiers.

NOTE: GAR last won the Division 2 championship during the 2015-16 season when it defeated Nanticoke Area 58-57 in triple overtime in a special playoff game.

WVC Division 2 Championship

Nanticoke Area 60, GAR 49

NANTICOKE AREA (60) — Nate Kreitzer 7 5-6 23, Colby Butczynski 6 7-8 19, Trahjan Krupinski 2 0-0 4, Jake Krupinski 2 1-1 5, Dylan Szychowski 1 0-1 2, JJ Bielicki 0 0-0 0, Andy Kozlofski 3 0-0 7. Totals 21 13-16 60.

GAR (49) — Will Johnson 3 6-7 13, Jared O’Day 4 0-0 12, Tyler Young 1 0-0 3, Curtis Smith 5 0-0 11, Curon Smith 5 0-0 10. Totals 18 6-7 49.

Nanticoke`7`17`21`15 — 60

GAR`14`18`9`8 — 49

Three-point goals — NAN 5 (Kreitzer 4, Kozlofski); GAR 7 (O’Day 4, Johnson, Young, Curt. Smith)

Nanticoke takes sole possession of first place with victory over GAR
NEPA Sports page blogspot

The GAR Grenadiers traveled to Nanticoke on Tuesday night to take on the Trojans. It was a highly touted matchup with both teams tied for first place in Division 2. The winner would be in first place all alone with two games to go in the regular season.
The Trojans started with four straight points but the Grenadiers would get a basket from Curtis Smith and a three pointer from Will Johnson. After that, it would be back and forth for awhile until Nanticoke went on a 6-0 run. Jared O'Day would break Nanticoke's run with a three pointer but the Trojans would get three straight three point baskets from Nate Kreitzer, Jake Krupinski and Butczynski for a 21-10 lead and would lead 21-14 at the end of the first quarter. The Grenadiers would fight back and cut the Nanticoke lead to three with three pointers by Tyler Young and O'Day. After a Butczynski basket, Smith would hit another Grenadier three to make it a two point game. The Trojans would end up leading 36-31 at halftime.
 Kreitzer would hit a three pointer to start the half to increase the lead to eight. After a Johnson basket, Jake Krupinski would hit a three pointer to make it a nine point lead. The Trojans would keep up the scoring and lead 54-46 at the end of the third. The Trojans would lead as much as 11 but the Grenadiers would make one last push and go on an 8-0 run to make it 61-58. That would be the closest as Nanticoke would sink several free throws and take a 74-65 home victory over GAR. The Trojans are now in first place all alone. The Grenadiers travel to Wyoming Area on Thursday then host Meyers on Friday. The Trojans go on the road to Tunkhannock on Thursday and to Wyoming Area on Saturday.
Thoughts on the game: It was a pretty high scoring game. The Trojans played very well. Nate Kreitzer had an excellent game with 23 and Jake Krupinski had 19. For GAR, Will Johnson led his team with 22 points and Tyler Young added 16.

Nanticoke 74 GAR 65
Curtis Smith 14
Will Johnson 22
Tyler Young 16
Jared O'Day 11
Shawn Adamson 2

Trahjan Krupinski 10
Colby Butczynski 17
Jake Krupinski 19
Nate Kreitzer 23
Andy Kozlofski 3

Trojan seniors leave home court a winner

Eric Shultz – Citizens Voice

In a one-score game with first place on the line, Nanticoke Area boys basketball became unguardable in crunch time.

GAR had rattled off eight consecutive points to get within a possession with less than four minutes to play. But that’s as close as the Grenadiers got, unable to do anything but watch as the Trojans spent much of their remaining time with the ball at the foul line.

Various penalties — including on a loose ball, a reach-in deep in the back court and a pair of technical fouls — hindered GAR’s comeback attempt and gave Nanticoke Area more than enough free throws to finish its senior night on top of Division 2 in the Wyoming Valley Conference. Trojan seniors Nate Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski, Dylan Szychowski and Brandan Fontaine won their final home game, leading Nanticoke Area over GAR, 74-65, on Tuesday night.

Nanticoke Area (16-4, 11-4 Division 2) broke a tie with GAR (13-7, 10-5) for first in Division 2 with two games remaining in both teams’ seasons. The Trojans can close out a league title at Tunkhannock (10-8, 6-7) and Wyoming Area (2-16, 1-12) on Thursday and Saturday, while the Grenadiers take on Wyoming Area and Meyers (5-14, 5-9) those same days.

“It’s a great win. We could really reflect on it,” Kreitzer said, “but we would rather go out and win the next two and finish the season off right.”

Kreitzer paced Nanticoke Area with 23 points, including a dozen in the final 10 minutes after he switched from a bloody No. 2 jersey to a fresh No. 32. He accounted for four of the team’s eight 3-pointers.

Jake Krupinski followed with 19 points, Butczynski had 17 and Trahjan Krupinski scored 10.

Butczynski scored a put-back on a Kreitzer miss, and Kreitzer’s misdirection and layup off a screen helped give the Trojans a 61-50 lead with 4:52 remaining. GAR fought back, though, with 3s by Tyler Young and Curtis Smith, plus a spin move and fast-break score by Will Johnson that made it 61-58.

But the Trojans mostly shot free throws from there. That’s how they scored 14 of their 20 points in the fourth quarter, going 14 for 18 (77.8 percent) from the stripe to stay ahead.

“We knew GAR wasn’t going to quit; they’re a tough team. ... I think we kept our composure,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “We were strong with the basketball.”

After hitting just one 3-pointer in the first half, Johnson broke out for 22 total by the end of the game to lead the Grenadiers. The WVC’s leading scorer helped spark his team late with finesse at the rim but also physicality, like when he ripped the ball from a Trojans forward under the basket and went up for a bucket and foul.

Young (16 points), Smith (14) and Jared O’Day (11) also finished in double figures for the Grenadiers. Those three plus Johnson combined for a 11 3-pointers on a night in which shooters from both teams made defenses pay if left open around the perimeter.

“They shot tremendously well. We thought they were going to miss eventually,” Beggs said, “but they didn’t.”

Kreitzer said: “You could tell both teams were knocking them down. Both teams were hot. It was like we were trying to throw a beach ball into the ocean.”

Thursday was a fitting finish for Nanticoke Area’s seniors on their home floor. Winning out for a second consecutive WVC title would be just as appropriate for the graduating group that won without any 12th-graders on the team last year.

“These guys were major contributors two years ago when we went to the final four in the state,” Beggs noted. “This group’s an important group,” Beggs said. “They’re going to be remembered in Nanticoke history for a long time.”

H.S. Boys Basketball: Nanticoke Area tops GAR in Division 2 showdown

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Sophomore Jake Krupinski surrendered his normal starting spot Tuesday night so all of the Nanticoke Area seniors could begin the game on the court on senior night.

Once he entered the game, Krupinski showed why he’s been a starter the past two seasons.

Krupinski scored 19 points and completed his double-double with his 10th rebound at a key point of the fourth quarter as Nanticoke Area defeated GAR 74-65 to gain sole possession of first place in Division 2 of Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball.

“It didn’t mind it because I knew it was senior night,” Krupinski said of not starting. “I just had to play my game that I play every night.”

Nanticoke Area (11-4 Div. 2, 16-4) needs to navigate two more games for its second consecutive divisional title.

The Trojans are at Tunkhannock (6-7 Div. 2, 10-8) on Thursday and at Wyoming Area (1-11 Div. 2, 2-16) on Saturday. GAR (10-5 Div. 2, 13-7) finishes up the WVC season at Wyoming Area on Thursday and by hosting rival Meyers (5-9 Div. 2, 5-14) on Friday.

“We’re happy with the one-game cushion on GAR, but we didn’t win anything tonight,” Nanticoke Area coach John Beggs said. “But it definitely gives us a little bit of an advantage.”

GAR led just twice all game, both coming in the opening minutes — 5-4 and 7-6. Nanticoke Area then threatened to take control as consecutive 3-pointers by Nate Kreitzer, Krupinski and Colby Butczynski gave the Trojans a 21-10 advantage late in the quarter.

But like all game, whenever Nanticoke Area created some space the Grenadiers closed the gap.

Just not enough.

“We got in hole that we had to chase all game,” GAR coach Jerry Altavilla said. “Then we got it down to four and we needed something to go our way.”

The Grenadiers actually had the deficit whittled to three, 61-58, midway through the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Tyler Young and two layups by Will Johnson, the first coming on a spinning move in the lane. Nanticoke Area, though, dominated the final minutes.

The biggest momentum shift came after Butczynski missed the second of two free throws with 1:16 remaining. Krupinski grabbed the rebound — his 10th — and after a timeout found Kreitzer slicing to the basket for a 69-60 lead.

“We knew they would fight to the last second and they did,” Kreitzer said. “They cut it to three and they were knocking down shots like we were. It was a really hard-fought game by both teams.”

Frustration set in late for GAR, which was called for two technical fouls in the final minute. Kreitzer made all four technical free throws to finish off his 23-point night. Butczynski added 17 and Trahjan Krupinski, Jake’s older brother, had 10 and six boards.

Johnson had 22 for GAR. Young had 16 and Jared O’Day 11, with the duo combining for seven 3-pointers that often tightened things up. Curtis Smith added 14.

Kreitzer leaving his mark on Nanticoke Area
Matt Bufano – Citizens Voice

He is one of the league’s most electrifying players, a record-breaking point guard who’s orchestrated some of the greatest wins at a school rich in basketball history.

But Nate Kreitzer’s career at Nanticoke Area started with the humblest of beginnings.

“You feel like you’re not supposed to be there at first,” Kreitzer recalled of his first few practices freshman year. “These guys are like grown men, you feel like. And I’m there at 5-foot-6, trying to get a shot up — and it’s getting blocked off the wall.”

With varsity minutes hard to come by, Kreitzer filled his role on Nanticoke Area’s scout team.

“During the week, they would be mimicking the opponent and he would be the opponent’s best guard,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “He would be the guy who shot the most shots.”

Kreitzer kept working and improving, eventually earning some varsity playing time.

During one practice, Kreitzer made four 3-pointers in a row, unfazed by the 6-footers standing on the perimeter and attempting to defend him.

“Our defense would be geared to stop him,” Beggs said. “So when we weren’t able to stop him, then we had to address that with our varsity.

“And we also knew he had something special. This young freshman could play against our best players at that time.”

Beggs’ notion that Kreitzer was “something special” proved true with Kreitzer becoming one of the best basketball players ever at Nanticoke Area.

“What I love about coaching him is our staff — and me, personally — coach him harder than anybody else. We coach him harder than anybody we ever have,” Beggs said. “We put pressure on him to lead. We coach him tough. We push him, and he embraces it.”

Kreitzer first played basketball at age four and he’s loved it ever since.

Eric Spencer coached him up in the local Biddy Basketball League.

Kreitzer elevated his game as he got older, working with coaches like John Bucci and Bill Callahan at the AAU level.

“Every day, I was either outside playing basketball or shooting in the gym or going to AAU practice,’ Kreitzer said.

It helped, too, that Kreitzer grew up in the basketball-loving community of Nanticoke Area.

The school’s tradition is not lost on Kreitzer, who touted past Trojan greats like Paul Guffrovich, the 2,000-point scorer who played at Wichita State.

“When I was in Biddy Basketball, I remember going to Biddy Night and seeing the guys on the team and they were signing my shirt,” Kreitzer said. “I always wanted to be the guy signing someone else’s shirt, as if I was a professional.”

After barely playing as a freshman, Kreitzer started on varsity as a sophomore. He stepped into a leadership role toward the end of the season.

Kreitzer engineered the come-from-behind stunner against District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic, which was Nanticoke Area’s first state playoff game since 2003.

Nanticoke Area rallied from 12 points down to win 58-56 with Kreitzer scoring a team-high 15 points. He also sealed the win with clutch takeaways and free throws in the final minutes.

“We felt like we were going to win no matter what,” Kreitzer recalled. “We did whatever it took.”

Nanticoke Area won two more PIAA Class 4A playoff games before losing in the semifinals to eventual state champion Imhotep Charter.

The Trojans returned to the hardwood in 2017-18 and ran away with the WVC Division 2 league title — an amazing accomplishment considering the team had no seniors — before earning another berth in the state tournament.

On an individual level, Kreitzer capped the season with a third-team selection to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ All-State team.

Kreitzer sees similarities between last season and this season, which is the final hurrah for senior starters and longtime teammates Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski.

“Right now, we’re still working to be the best team that we could be,” Kreitzer said. “But, like last year, we started off a little slow and then we hit that stride where we were playing incredible. I think we’re about to hit that stride right now, so it’s really good for the team to get some of those challenges in the beginning of the season.”

Misericordia, Wilkes, Susquehanna and King’s are among the schools recruiting the 5-foot-9 Kreitzer — the son of Brian and Lori Kreitzer with a brother Aaron and sister Ella — who wants to study business.

Before taking that next step, though, Kreitzer wants to win another league title and he wants to play for a district championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Kreitzer is averaging 19.9 points per game with 46 3s for Nanticoke Area (11-3).

Kreitzer, who mentions Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry as one of his favorite players, holds Nanticoke Area’s single-game record with 10 3s he hit earlier this season at Coughlin. Kreitzer previously set the record with nine 3s in a game as a junior.

Kreitzer is also the No. 1 3-point shooter in Nanticoke Area history with 199 3s in his career, including the unforgettable half-court heave he shot with 0.4 seconds left to force overtime at home last season against Tunkhannock.

The 3-point record had been held by Beggs, who made 192.

“We like to think that we have a good shooting program here. We get guys better through their career,” Beggs said. “But you can’t teach a guy like that anything. We just try to tweak things and try to give him confidence. We try to put him in good position and set some plays up for him. But his shooting is natural. For him to beat the record — and he’s going to beat the record by a bunch — is something great.”


March 11, 2017: Kreitzer scores 15 points and makes four free throws in the final seconds of Nanticoke Area’s 58-56 upset win against Becahi in the state tournament

Jan. 27, 2018: Kreitzer sets a Nanticoke Area single-game record with nine 3-pointers in a win against Coughlin

Feb. 13, 2018: Kreitzer makes an unforgettable halfcourt 3 at the buzzer — video on Twitter of the shot has 55,000 views — to force overtime against Tunkhannock

Feb. 27, 2018: Nanticoke Area erases a 20-point deficit to beat Wyoming Area for a state playoff berth, as Kreitzer leads the way with 25 points and three steals

Dec. 20, 2018: Kreitzer breaks his own school record with 10 3s in a win against Coughlin, which also featured him scoring his 1,000th career point

FOLLOW THE FORMULA: Trojans’ passing, defense leads to rivalry win
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Nanticoke Area’s recipe for success is nothing unusual.

“Nanticoke plays its best basketball,” Trojans head coach John Beggs said, “when we’re sharing the basketball, and when we’re committed on the defensive end.”

Easier said than done. However, Nanticoke Area did put it all together Tuesday night.

Nate Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Colby Butczynski each scored in double-figures for a pass-happy offense, while the Trojans’ defense held Hanover Area to a season-low point total.

The Trojans walked out of their rival’s gym with a 50-34 win in Wyoming Valley Conference boys basketball.

“The excitement in the locker room, I can’t even describe it,” said Krupinski, a senior who tallied 12 points and six rebounds. “The intensity, the way we warmed up, getting ready for this game and the way we prepared — it was really good. With the atmosphere and the crowd, the two cheering sections going back and forth, this is what high school basketball is all about.”

Nanticoke Area improved to 10-3 (5-3 WVC), looking more and more like the team that returned its entire lineup from last year’s 20-win season.

The Trojans’ main objective on defense Tuesday was limiting Hanover Area’s top scorer, junior Asad Whitehead, who’s averaging 17 points per game.

Whitehead still scored 14, but he was held to only four field goals.

“To hold them to 34 points was key,” Beggs said. “Our offense was hit and miss, but we committed to defense and that’s why we pulled out the victory.”

Hanover Area matched Nanticoke Area’s defensive intensity early, using a man defense to keep Kreitzer in check.

While Kreitzer, an all-state point guard, scored only two points in the first quarter, Krupinski had six in the first frame to give Nanticoke Area a 10-8 lead after one quarter.

The Trojans created some breathing room with a 14-1 run into the second quarter, which put them ahead 22-9.

Nanticoke Area led 24-15 at halftime, and never allowed Hanover Area back into the game, opening the third quarter by making its first three shots — a Butczynski layup followed by back-to-back Krupinski scores in the paint.

From that point forward, Nanticoke Area used long possessions to create open looks with nonstop passes and few turnovers.

“We didn’t want to stall, but we didn’t want to force anything,” Krupinski said. “We had the lead ... so we didn’t want to force anything.”

Nanticoke Area sealed the win early in the fourth quarter when Kreitzer really got going, hitting three early layups; one layup was an and-one where he made the shot despite being hit in the hand, another came on a fast-break after he stole the ball at halfcourt.

Kreitzer was the Trojans’ leading scorer with 14 points. Butczynski added 11, while sophomore Jake Krupinski scored nine with a game-high nine rebounds.

“Nanticoke-Hanover, huge rivalry,” Beggs said. “The last few games have been back and forth. We committed to defense today and that’s why we won this game.”

After Whitehead, Justin Kopko was Hanover Area’s (6-7, 4-3 WVC) No. 2 scorer with six points. The Penn State football recruit was honored before tipoff for the Hawkeyes’ senior night.

Tony Maluso – Citizens Voice

Nate Kreitzer, Nanticoke Area
Nate Kreitzer

Nanticoke Area’s Nate Kreitzer had a career night on Thursday against Coughlin. Kreitzer set a school record making 10 3-pointers, part of a 43-point game. Over the course of the game, Kreitzer scored his 1,000th career point. He recently talked about that night and his team’s season.

Q: Being so close to 1,000 points coming into the season, how much was it on your mind?
A: I was waiting for it come but I didn’t want to rush it. I didn’t want to try to overscore in a game and end up losing because I’m doing something wrong and taking bad shots.
Q: Is it a weight off your shoulders now?
A: Definitely. Everyone was talking about it. “Oh, you’re this many points away.” Now that it’s gone and over with, I can just play and not listen to all that other outside noise.
Q: How close were you going into Thursday?
A: I was 23 away. I had 22 at halftime, so I knew it was coming that game.
Q: What does it mean to you to have your name atop the school record or to be among its best scorers?
A: It’s crazy. Since I was little I was looking up at the rafters and seeing all the names of the teams and all the championships. I just wanted to be there myself. Now, we are there winning championships and I get my name next to the great guys on the scoring list.
Q: That night, did you just have a feeling you were hot that game?
A: They played a zone. I usually sneak my way around the back of the zone and find a corner, or find the top of the key and step into my shots. My teammates got me the ball and it was a hot night for me.
Q: A game like that, can you tell during pregame warmups ‘My shots working tonight. It’s going to be a good night”
A: Sometimes you can tell, definitely in warmups if you hit a couple in a row. You can definitely get that feeling and you get confidence going into the game.
Q: The team’s off to a good start coming into the season. What’s making this team so special that will carry it forward?
A: We’re a year older now, so we have more experience. No one graduated last year. That also helps us. We’re all clicking together; we’ve been playing together since we were little.
Q: How do you all mesh together on the court?
A: We all do something different. We have drivers, we have rebounders, we have shooters. We have people that can do everything out there.
Q: What can you take from last year’s postseason experience that will benefit the team this year?
A: Last year we didn’t know what we had, honestly, against other teams. Now, we know we can compete with those teams.

Getting to know Nate Kreitzer
Year: Senior
Age: 18
Family: Mom Lori, Dad Brian, Brother Aaron (22), Sister Ella (13)
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone 2
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Favorite team: Michigan
Favorite athlete: Trey Burke
NBA Finals Pick: Warriors over Bucks
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Top thing on his Christmas list: Air Fryer
Favorite food: Pizza
Ideal pizza topping: Extra Cheese
Favorite place to eat: Revellos
Song that gets you fired up before a game: “Gang Related” by Logic
Favorite app on your smartphone: Twitter
Dream car: Jaguar F Pace
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?: Rome
One word that best describes you: Energetic
What superpower would you like to have?: Super speed
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Tom Cruise
Favorite thing about basketball: Teamwork
Hardest thing about basketball: Losing
Could Rose have saved Jack at the end of Titanic? Definitely
If a werewolf gets injured, would he go to a doctor or a vet? Doctor
The one thing you can’t live without: Family
One thing that scares you the most: Heights
If you won the lottery, first thing you’d do with the money: Invest
Biggest role model: Brother Aaron
Plans after high school: Play college basketball

A huge night for Nanticoke's Nate Kreitzer
Nate Kreitzer 1000 point

At Coughlin, Nanticoke Area’s Nate Kreitzer scored his 1,000th career point on Thursday, and also broke his own school record with 10 3-pointers in a 65-39 Trojans win.

His 43 points is the highest-scoring night in the WVC so far this season.

Tony Egidio’s 16 points paced Coughlin.

Nanticoke Area (65)

N. Kreitzer 14 5-7 43, C. Butczynski 3 1-1 7, A. Kozlofski 2 0-0 6, T. Krupinski 2 0-0 5, S. Shiloh 1 1-2 3, J. Bielecki 0 1-2 1, J. Fox III 0 0-0 0, J. Krupinski 0 0-0 0, L. Myers 0 0-0 0, D. Szychowski 0 0-0 0, C. Brown 0 0-0 0, Totals 22 8-12 65.

Coughlin (39)

A. Egidio 7 1-3 16, J. Hall 3 3-4 9, B. Hall 4 0-0 8, D. Jones 1 0-0 2, E. Henry 1 0-0 2, A. Bennett 0 2-2 2, E. Kimmeng 0 0-0 0, A. Kulikowich 0 0-0 0, J. Kinlaw 0 0-0 0, M. Oxford 0 0-0 0, M. Egidio 0 0-0 0, T. Zavada 0 0-0 0, M. Senape 0 0-0 0, A. Pena 0 0-0 0, P. Allen 0 0-0 0, Totals 16 6-9 39.

Nanticoke Area 10 22 22 11—65

Coughlin 12 8 8 11—39

3-point goals: N. Kreitzer (NA) 10, A. Kozlofski (NA) 2, T. Krupinski (NA) 1, A. Egidio (Cou)

Matt Bufano - Citizens Voice

Nanticoke Area

Coach: John Beggs

2017 results: 20-6, beat No. 4 Wyoming Area, 52-48, for third-place in District 2 Class 4A; lost to Bethlehem Catholic, 71-30, in the PIAA first round.

Key players: Seniors — Nate Kreitzer; Trahjan Krupinski; Dylan Szychowski. Junior — Colby Butczynski. Sophomores — J.J. Bielecki; Jake Krupinski; Luke Myers.

Outlook: There’s a lot to like about this team, starting with point guard Kreitzer and forward Trahjan Krupinski. Kreitzer averaged 19.4 ppg with 80 3s and an 80.3 percent free throw percentage in 2017-18. He’s as good a player there is in the WVC. Both Krupinskis are solid players, too. The Trojans are not very deep, but the first few players off the bench can certainly hold their own. Nanticoke Area did not graduate anyone from last season.