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Harmony boys look to return to form
Friday, November 30, 2012
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
WESTOVER - The Harmony boys basketball team has frequently found itself in the conversation as one of the premier teams in District 6 Class A. However, the young and inexperienced Owls hit a bump in the road last season and ended the year with only two wins after having a 14-10 record two seasons ago.
But the team comes back for the 2012-13 season under second-year head coach Doug Martz with six letterwinners and more experience after much work was put in at the gym and in various leagues over the summer.
"We've luckily been able to keep away from the injuries for the most part, which is half the battle at this time of the year," said Martz. "We've been having spirited practices. We have a group of six seniors, so there's a little bit of a natural leadership that comes along with having six seniors. They've been pushing the guys well in practice.
"Our captains (Evan Novella, Nate Young and Tyler Tiesi) rounded up the younger guys because sometimes the younger guys have a tendency to be a little bashful to come around in the summer time or get themselves involved.
Our older guys did a nice job, those three in particular, of rounding up the younger ones and making sure they came. We had a good turnout from them this summer. We traveled around a lot. I thought we got a lot of good game action."
"I just felt we had a good offseason from these young men, a lot of hard work in the preseason, in the weight room and in conditioning and then a lot of hard work once we hit the floor for practices. I'm very impressed with their work ethic right now."
The Owls already have a small hurdle they have to get over before the season even begins. Harmony is having its gymnasium renovated and cannot host any games until the start of the new year when the construction should be finished.
"On one hand, it's a lot to deal with," said Martz. "But on the other hand, we feel very fortunate because at one point it looked like we wouldn't be able to have our gym floor for practice. I guess we feel lucky we have the practice floor and due to the renovations, it's just tough to have home games. We'll look forward to playing hard on the road."
Tiesi, a Progressland second-team selection last year, averaged 10 points a game for the Owls last season and will return to the starting lineup this season.
Young (5.8 points per game) and Novella (3.5 points per game) are also projected to spend a majority of the minutes on the floor.
Martz said the other two starters are to be determined, but he has seen good things from many players who are deserving of the two spots.
"What we know for sure is we have three seniors that are very dedicated to the program," said Martz. "I look at those three as players who won't come off the floor very often, unless they're in foul trouble or they're doing something they're not supposed to be doing.
"Outside of that, we have a group of four others that could handle the other two starting positions. It might depend on what night it is and what we need in that competition."
"I will take a look at Josh Lucas having a leg up on a spot," said Martz. "I think Logan Sral has worked a lot. He's got a leg up on a spot. And we have senior Brandon Fox and sophomore Dustin Kurtz coming in. Dustin Kurtz has done a lot of nice things for us as a young guy coming right in and he hasn't really missed a beat. We feel that he can be out there on the floor."
The Owls lost four seniors to graduation last year, including three-year letterwinner Joseph Leyo, who scored 126 points last year. With the Owls dealing with hard times over the last two years, it's hard to imagine that many high school teams have gone through more obstacles than what this squad has, according to Martz.
"This team has been through a lot, a lot of things during their time here in the program that they had to get through," said Martz. "Right now, we have our little renovation project, which is just a little bump in the road. It's a group that's dealt with the loss of a coach (the late Terry Kruise) during their time. I'm very proud of how they've dealt with adversity.
"The thing that we've talked about is that we're "all-in" right now. I feel that's the reaction that I'm getting from the seniors. After we struggled last year, seeing that we've got the talent here, we feel like we're all-in. We're giving everything we can for three months and seeing where the chips fall."
Harmony opens its season next Friday at the Homer-Center Tip-Off Tournament.

Roster
Seniors
*Brandon Fox, Robert Nalley, Joe Neff, *Evan Novella, *Tyler Tiesi, *Nate Young.
Juniors
Austin Hugill.
Sophomores
Devin Beck, Dustin Kurtz, *Josh Lucas, Johnny Polisky, *Logan Sral, Collin Westover.
Freshmen
Cody Fritz.
*Returning letterwinners

Schedule

December
7-8-at Homer-Center Tip-Off Tournament, TBA; 12-at Glendale; 18-at Curwensville; 20-at Punxsutawney; 27-28-at Purchase Line Tournament, TBA.
January
2-Moshannon Valley; 4-at Portage; 7-Claysburg-Kimmel; 9-at West Branch; 11-at Purchase Line, 8 p.m.; 17-at Blacklick Valley; 23-at Moshannon Valley; 30-Curwensville.
February
1-Brockway; 5-West Branch; 7-at DuBois Central Catholic; 8-Portage; 11-at Brookville; 12-Purchase Line; 14-Glendale.
Varsity games start at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.
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