Towanda boys, NEB girls ready for state playoffs
It has already been a successful season for the Towanda boys and Northeast Bradford girls' basketball teams.
However, starting today they begin their quest for something bigger than they have accomplished before.
Each team begins play in the PIAA playoffs today as Towanda heads to Wilkes University for a 6 p.m. game with Meyers and NEB travels to Martz Hall in Pottsville for a game at the same time against Marian.
"The kids have had a real good week of practice," Towanda coach Ryan Napp said. "They are real excited to play in a state tournament game."
"They are very excited," Northeast Bradford coach Paul Burgert said of his team.
Both coaches know that they are running into talented opponents.
"Marian is aggressive, they are going to press the whole game," Burgert said. "We are going to have to play basketball 90 feet for four quarters. They are very disciplined. They like to spread it out. They are like us, they spread the wealth and it's a different girl each day who steps up for them."
The Black Knights know they will be facing a team with some good athletes.
"Meyers is very athletic," Napp said. "Obviously they are a good team, they are the district champions of district 2. They have a solid point guard. Their forward was MVP of their league. They have a three-point shooter and they have an offensive rebounder. They have every piece of the puzzle. We will have a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of good players on our team too."
Getting to states last year is something that Burgert thinks will help Northeast in their game.
"The experience is huge, no doubt about that," he said. "Last year maybe we were a little starry eyed. We also played in a hostile environment last year and we will play in another one this year. We have a little more level of comfort this year."
While Towanda's players haven't been to states before, they have been building toward this.
"Two years we had a district win in overtime against Bloomsburg," Napp said. "Last year we had a good win against Athens to win the NTL Championship. This year we finally get a chance to play in the state tournament.
"Even though we never had this experience, this group of kids knows when to step up."
What Towanda has done in districts gives them some confidence going into states.
"We beat South Williamsport, who was a very, very good team, and beat them by 20 and gave us confidence going into Loyalsock," Napp said. "I think everybody knew they (Loyalsock) were No. 2 at the time and I think it opened up our eyes as to how good we can be. Then obviously we beat Southern Columbia who played well at the end of their season. Playing good competition gets you ready for the state tournament."
For Burgert one of the challenges for NEB is the week off after districts.
"The week off is overall terrible this time of year," he said. "It's hard, no one wants to practice for five straight days this time of year."
He knows that his team, with three senior starters, want to keep this run going.
"We have three seniors who love playing basketball," he said. "I know they want to keep playing. They don't want this game to be it."
Napp believes that his team is ready for this challenge.
"This group, they are competitors," he said. "They just want to compete, they just want to keep it going. Whether it's the seniors, or juniors, or sophomores, they all know you don't get these chances too often. I think it's been 15 years since any Towanda team has been in the state tournament. They want to take advantage of this chance."
TOWANDA VS. MEYERS
At Wilkes University, 6 p.m.
Towanda Black Knights (23-4)
Coach: Ryan Napp
How they got here: Beat South Williamsport 79-56, lost to Loyalsock 86-73, beat Southern Columbia in the 3rd place game 57-50.
Noah Huff, Jr., G: 18.1 points, 54 threes
David Rodenhizer, Sr., G: 16.4 points, 32 threes
Noah Wheeler, Jr., F: 7 points
Dylan Bates, Jr., G, 2 points
Garrett Mosier, Sr., F, 3.7 points
Nick Place, Jr.., F, 2.5 points
Lij Griffin, Sr., G, 4.8 points
Bailey Potter, Jr., G, 3.3 points
Brad Sparbanie, Sr., F, 1.4 points
NOTES: Won their second straight NTL title this year. . . Are making their first trip to the PIAA playoffs in 15 years. . . Huff went over 1,000 career points as a junior in their last game. He scored 36 points in the loss to Loyalsock. He is the NTL large-school player of the year. Forms a dynamic 1-2 punch with Rodenhizer.
Wilkes-Barre Meyers (19-7)
Head coach: Pat Toole
Points for: 1,473
Points against: 1,180
Tyriek Steward (17.3)
Shahee Aurelus (9.5),
Ryan Wasley (4.8),
Matt DeMarco (4.5),
Lamont Twyman (8.1),
Tyon Thomas (7.6),
Dominic Pittman (6.0),
Curtis Blue (1.9)
How they got here: Defeated Northwest, Hanover Area, Mid Valley and Holy Cross to win the district title. Mid Valley and Holy Cross were state ranked.
NOTES: Won the Wyoming Valley Conference Division III title. . . Won its second District 2 Class 2A title in the last three years. . . Meyers has recently moved to 9th in the state.. . Average 56.7 points per game. . . Shoot 61.0 percent as a team from the foul line. . . Aurelus has 32 three-pointers, Steward 22, Thomas 16 and DeMarco 11.. . . Lamont Twyman transferred from GAR to Meyers in October and was recently cleared to play after a District 2 eligibility hearing. He has played in seven games.. . Team thrives off the dribble penetration and crashes the boards on both ends of the floor.
NEB VS. MARIAN
At Martz Hall, 6 p.m.
Northeast Bradford Panthers (20-5)
Head Coach: Paul Burgert (Third year)
How they got here: Beat Bucktail in District IV quarterfinals, beat Mansfield in semi-finals, lost to Millville in championship game
Team stats: PPG (50.3), OPPG (35.5)
They like to play uptempo as a team, generating steals on defense with a press while using quick ball movement and good outside shooting on offense. Very balanced offense, they use their defense to fuel their offense. Undersized but very active on the offensive boards.
Probable starters: Calla Johnson (12, G) 8.5 ppg, 18 threes, NTL Small School MVP.
Angelia Laudermilch (12, F) 10.8 ppg, 16 threes, NTL Small School First team.
Lydia Werner (10, F) 10.1 ppg, 19 threes.
Maddy Johnson (12, G) 6.6 ppg, 23 threes.
Alyssa Coon (12, C) 5.7 ppg. Solid rebounder, tough, strong.
Rotation: Kara Hallett (11, F) 3.2 ppg.
Alyssa Turner (11, G) 3.7 ppg,
Cassie Johnson (9, G) 1.2 ppg.
Other Notes: Won the NTL Small School title, fell to Athens in the NTL Showdown title game... Are in states for the second straight year. . . . Laudermilch went over 1,000 points for her career this year and Calla Johnson topped 500 assists.
Marian Fillies (24-2)
Head coach: Paul Brutto (23rd season)
How got here: Defeated Lehigh Valley Christian 61-21 in District 11 quarterfinals. Beat Williams Valley 49-34 in district semifinals. Defeated Shenandoah Valley 47-22 in district championship game.
Team stats: Offense (49.9 ppg), defense (29.5 ppg), free-throw percentage (.560)
Probable starters: G Gabby Green (sr., 5-3, 7.9 ppg), G Lindsay Nemeth (sr., 5-3), G Emily Sofranko (sr., 5-3), F Abbey Whildin (jr., 5-7, 8.0), F Savanna Krusinsky (soph., 5-10, 9.8)
Key reserves: G Ashley Fannick (jr., 5-5), G Vanessa Whitecavage (soph., 5-3), F Brenna Karnish (fr., 5-7), F Ericha Holman (sr., 5-11)
Team notes: Won first District 11 Class A championship in three straight appearances. Two previous losses were to defending PIAA Class A champ Tri-Valley. ... Reached Schuylkill League championship with a 31-28 victory over Class AAA North Schuylkill in the semifinals. Lost to Class AA Minersville 61-46 in championship game. ... Fillies' defense is known for its full- and half-court pressure and ability to create points off turnovers. Marian has the best defense in our coverage area with 29.5 ppg. ... Offense is extremely balanced, with no individual scoring 10-plus points. Sophomore forward Savanna Krusinsky leads the team with 9.8 ppg.