P-O boys hoping to compete at high level this season|
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
PHILIPSBURG - In their second year under head coach Dave McKnight, the Philipsburg-Osceola boys basketball team won five games.
This season, the Mounties hope to dramatically improve that number, while also playing competitively in the always-tough Mountain League.
"We just have to keep improving," said McKnight. "We got four wins my first year, five my second and I'd really like to get up above .500 and make the playoffs this year.
"It's a tough league. Our non-league schedule has teams like Bishop Guilfoyle and Forest Hills. We don't have patsy teams in our schedule. That's good competition for us. We need to play that day in and day out.
"We want to play and be competitive at that level. Otherwise you get to the playoffs and you are one and done. We don't want that."
P-O returns four letterwinners for the 2012-13 season - seniors Matt Carpin, Taylor Golemboski, Eric Nartatez, and Andrew Reifer.
Nartatez is the team's leading scorer back. He averaged 7.7 points per game last season and led the team with 22 3-pointers.
Golemboski added 7.6 ppg, while Carpin (3.6 ppg) and Reifer, who played in 18 games last season, are also back.
"We have a lot of experience and leadership experience," McKnight said. "They play well and they play well together. They've been together since elementary school. It's a nice group of kids.
"I don't have to motivate these kids a whole lot. There is leadership there. They do what we ask them to do. It's been fun coaching them."
Joining those four letterwinners as starters will be either senior Alex Gray or junior Collin Maurer. McKnight will use the two interchangeably depending on what type of team they face on any given night.
"The seniors will probably be the starting five," he said. "It's possible that Collin Maurer will start if we need a guard. If I need height Alex will go. If we need ball handlers and go up against a big, pressing team, we will use Collin.
"That's the plan for now. We will see. Collin has to step up and play some solid minutes on the varsity."
The Mounties will also need to fill the hole left by leading scorer Cole Curtis, who averaged 14.6 points per game, as well as Aaron McKnight (2.0 ppg) and Robbie Smith (4.8 ppg), who were lost to graduation.
Still, Coach McKnight is pleased with the group he has, and is impressed with the grasp his players have on the system.
"This is our third year, so the kids have been in the system the whole way through," he said. "They've learned the defensive strategies and what we want to do. They've learned our offensive scheme, and they are pretty comfortable running just about anything.
"It doesn't take as much work in practice to get that, so we can focus on fundamentals like shooting and passing."
Most of the team has played together throughout the year, and McKnight says that has taught them some valuable lessons.
"Being in that situation and playing in close games and not panicking," he said. "They are just solid ballplayers. They've played a lot together. We've played in a Spring, Summer and Fall League. We've had some good experiences there. That's important for our maturity as a team and as a program.
"It's not a sport you can do November-February. It's something you need to work on year round."
P-O will rely a lot on its big men - Reifer, Golemboski and Gray - as well as its skill position players like Carpin, Nartatez and Maurer.
"We have a little bit of height, but not so much when we play in the Mountain League," McKnight said. "We will see that 6-5, 6-6 kid from Central Mountain. But we have a couple of 6-4 guys that play big.
"We also have some ball handlers and some people to play our skill positions. I'm looking forward to it."
Also looking to see action for the Mounties is sophomore Trenton Herrington. The 5-11 guard will be a key player off the bench for McKnight.
Junior Dan Fowler and sophomores Justus Ammerman, Lucas Fetters, Andy Gray and Collin Kerfoot are also options.
"I really like these kids," said McKnight. "They are a hard-working group. We don't have to spend a lot of time motivating them. I'm real pleased with them.
"Our goal is to win Friday night, and then next Tuesday. We want to take it game by game and see where the cards fall."
The Mounties kick off the season on Friday at Clarion.
*Matt Carpin, *Taylor Golemboski, Alex Gray, *Eric Nartatez, *Andrew Reifer, Skyler Shuey.
Dan Fowler, Collin Maurer.
Justus Ammerman, Lucas Fetters, Andy Gray, Trenton Herrington, Collin Kerfoot.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
7-at Clarion; 11-at Penns Valley; 14-at Tyrone; 18-Bellefonte; 21-Bald Eagle Area; 26-27-at Williamsburg Christmas Tournament, TBA.
3-at Central Mountain; 8-Huntingdon; 11-at Central; 14-Forest Hills; 15-at Clearfield; 21-at Penn Cambria; 23-Penns Valley; 25-Tyrone; 28-at Brookville; 30-at Bellefonte.
1-at Bald Eagle Area; 4-Bishop Guilfoyle; 6-at Huntingdon; 8-Central; 12-Clearfield.
All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.