West Shamokin's success depends on blend of old, new players
A large senior class walked out the door last year for the West Shamokin boys basketball team, but the Wolves have plenty of young players prepared to step into those positions.
The Wolves will rely on veteran guard play and some first-time varsity regulars as they aim to claim one of the playoff spots from Section 1-AA for a third straight year.
Among graduation losses for West Shamokin are 1,000-point scorer Anthony Rocco and a group of experienced post players, but Wolves coach Mike Nagy is optimistic about the players who will be entering his rotation.
“Anthony Rocco is obviously going to be sorely missed, and inside we had some solid players, but we have a nice group of underclassmen, and our JVs did really well last year,” Nagy said.
Senior point guard Zane Clowser is the team's top returning scorer at more than 9 points per game last year, and junior guard Zac Horner gives the Wolves two starters returning in the backcourt.
The team's third guard spot has a trio of players vying for the starting role.
Two of those players, Alex Lasslo and Adam Crise, are juniors, while senior Andrew Brocious is trying to make a return to the court after recovering from an ACL injury.
“Traditionally, we're small, but this year is actually the most height we've had in a long time,” Nagy said.
“But we've always been guard-oriented, and we've always liked to pressure people and get out running. Hopefully (guard play) will be a strength of ours again this year.”
On the interior, the Wolves will be looking for juniors Ryan Dean, Jake Hough and Scott Przybysz to take lead roles, and Nagy said that all three will receive solid minutes.
The team also has a trio of sophomores that could be in the mix for playing time. Guards Brandon Stover and Jarret Kintz provide added depth at the three outside positions, while forward Ryan Bradigan-Barnett (6-foot-6) is the team's tallest player and will be used for his size advantage over other post players.
“We're pretty deep this year, and a lot of these kids are going to get playing time. That competition for playing time and starting spots will make us better as the year goes on,” Nagy said.
The Wolves aren't the only team in the section dealing with heavy graduation losses.
Last year's section co-champs, Burrell and Deer Lakes, also will have a lot of fresh faces in the lineup.
Because of player turnover, Apollo-Ridge's run to the WPIAL semifinals and expected improvement from Ford City and Summit Academy, Section 1-AA could be a wide-open race for both the section title and all four playoff spots.
“Our goals are more fundamental goals. We want to work hard every night and let the other things take care of themselves,” Nagy said.
“It's our 14th year at West Shamokin and we have yet to win a section title, so I know that's something the kids would like to do this year. But that's on the back burner, because we have to worry about today before we can look down the road at those kinds of things.”