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Returning coach getting cozy with Carlynton boys hoops

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
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File art Sophomore Jacob Bickus is part of a Carlynton bench that can go 10 deep.

Mike Kozy isn't putting a number on how many wins the Carlynton boys basketball team will get in his first year back as head coach.

He isn't promising a section title or a trip to Palumbo Center for the WPIAL Class AA title game.

His focus is on three simple goals he feels will help return the Cougars to a program it once was.

“I gave the team three goals: We want to learn to play basketball well, we want to represent Carlynton as best as we can and we want to compete at a high level,” Kozy said. “I don't want to say we are going to win X many of games. We want to establish pride, get a sense of energy and get as many kids as we can playing and see what happens.”

Kozy is in his second stint as the Carlynton coach. A former Carlynton player and member of the 1987-88 WPIAL championship squad, Kozy coached the team from 2003-2005 and went 28-45. But with the birth of his third child, Kozy — who also teaches at Carlynton — resigned from the position.

Kozy replaces Kevin Trost, who coached the Cougars to a 14-31 mark, including 1-21 last season.

Kozy said his main goal coming in was to get athletes on the team. The Cougars struggled to keep numbers up last season, and Kozy wanted to bring enthusiasm back to the program.

“At the end of the season last year, in grades 9 through 12, there were 10 players at best,” Kozy said. “We needed kids on the court. We now have a junior varsity team as well as a ninth grade team. We are turning things around.”

Kozy said between the varsity and junior varsity teams, the Cougars have 21 players on the roster.

Kozy said the starting five will be made up of seniors Mike Latimore, Seth Calorie and Brad Wisniewski; junior Mason Follmer; and sophomore Nick Schultz.

The team also will be able to call on seniors Dan Schuster and Tyler Throne and a handful of underclassmen.

“We can go as much as 10 deep,” Kozy said.”

None of the team stands above 6-foot-2, a problem Kozy said the team will overcome with a lot of ball movement and good shooting.

“Big-man play isn't what we are going to be about,” Kozy said. “We need to out-work the other team. We need to be faster than them.”

The Cougars competed in the Jefferson Morgan Tipoff tournament to start the season. Carlynton fell to Carmichaels, 47-44, on Friday. The Cougars led by seven after the first quarter but allowed the Mighty Mikes to outscore them, 26-15, the next two periods and let the game slip away. Wisniewski and Latimore led the team with 15 points each.

Carlynton rebounded on Day 2, as it defeated Neighborhood Academy, 43-31. Latimore led the team with 14 points, and Calorie added 11.

The Cougars will play in Section 6-AA this season after competing in Section 5-AA last year. The team makes the move with South Side Beaver and Sto-Rox and also will face the likes of Avonworth, Freedom, Northgate and Quaker Valley. Kozy said he has looked at the schedule but still needs time to dissect the teams they will face during the season. His concentration is more on improving his team instead of what other teams might do.

“We are going to concentrate on playing at a high level,” Kozy said. “As long as these guys go out and compete and play hard, I will be proud of them.”

Carlynton returns to the court tomorrow, Friday, as it hosts Quaker Valley. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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