The Tigers basketball team will boast an athletic squad this upcoming winter, with almost every member of the team suiting up for more than just this team.
Coming off a good season, head coach Spencer Lunger, who is in his third season leading the team, was happy with his team’s performance.
“We had a first round playoff loss to Valley View last season, who went onto the second round of States. It is a good experience, and was a good season, to grow from. We are progressing in the right direction,” said the Tunkhannock grad who played point guard for the Tigers before playing at Keystone College.
The team lost six seniors, including three starters. One of those graduates, Sean Harder is now on the practice squad for the Penn State Women’s basketball team in University Park.
Coach Lunger thinks up-and-comers Ryan Harder, Jack Chilson, Jake Frisco, Jaren Robinson, and Mike Kuzma will have an impact on the team.
He said, “We play in a very competitive league. Every game in the Wyoming Valley Conference is a battle, it is the toughest league, and we have to be ready to go every night. We will look to build on last year’s successes and need to get past the first round of playoffs, possibly to the district championship game.”
Lunger, along with assistant coach Stan Harder, are working on getting everyone involved, forming bonds between the returning starters and the newcomers. They are finding a way to adapt the junior varsity players to the level of varsity ball, and getting all the players into the style of play the coaches expect.
“We have the luxury of our senior leadership. Our team is a great group of guys, and we can shoot,” said Lunger. “But we are a little small at the guard position. We also have a wild card factor, losing three starters, and starting three new guys. It might take a few games for us to figure it all out, but we will be fine.”
He added, “I want these guys to know what it feels like to be a part of something special- to be happy with the program, and the direction the program is going in. Over Thanksgiving break, we had former players in here at practices. They came back because it felt good to still be a part of it all.”
Led by team appointed captains Tyler Faux, Avery Billings, and Nick Reposa, the Tigers start their season with local rivals Lackawanna Trail, Elk Lake, and even Montrose.
“These games always bring good crowds. We play the WVC teams one time each, and face daunting Hazelton and Crestwood teams. But that just makes us better down the road,” explained Lunger.
Faux, who is getting looks from a few Division II colleges, is poised to score his 1,000 point this season. The senior, who also plays baseball, said recently at the Kiwanis winter sports dinner that he is hoping to close the gap of around 200 points.
Billings and Reposa, along with Erik Bennett, are all looking at NCAA programs, but in other sports. Billings is hoping to advance his playing career in volleyball, Reposa for baseball, and Bennett in track and field.
Along with baseball and volleyball, Lunger will also have players from the Tigers football, soccer, and golf programs to add to his roster.
The boys are on a practice schedule rotation with the girls basketball team for gyms and times. The games are played in the Tunkhannock High School gym.
Roster Seniors: Erik Bennett, Avery Billings, Dylan Cavanaugh, Tyler Faux, Logan Helsel, Jaoa Oldoni, Nick Reposa, Zach Rogers, Izaiah Simon, and CJ Wright. Juniors David Baltrusaitis, Paul Binner, Joe Casey, Jake Frisco, Coby Gilpin, Jaren Robinson, and Evan Sackmann. Sophomores Jack Chilson, Ryan Harder, Gabe Hobbs, Riley Jones, Mike Kuzma, Austin Myers, and Chris Trochak.
Schedule: Dec. 7 at Lackawanna Trail, 6 p.m., Dec. 10 at Elk Lake, 6 p.m., Dec. 14 vs. Montrose, 6 p.m., Dec. 15 at Mountain View, 3:30 p.m., Dec. 18 at Western Wayne, 6 p.m., Dec. 20 at Dallas, 6 p.m., Dec. 22 Hazleton Area, Noon, Jan. 3 at Crestwood, 6 p.m., Jan. 5 vs. Pittston Area, 6 p.m., Jan. 8 at Coughlin, 6 p.m., Jan. 10 vs. Wyoming Valley West, 6 p.m., Jan. 12 vs. MMI Prep, 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at Holy Redeemer, 6 p.m., Jan. 18 vs. Hanover, 6 p.m., Jan. 22 at Wyoming Seminary, 6 p.m., Jan. 24 vs. Northwest Area, 6 p.m., Jan. 26 at Lake-Lehman, 6 p.m., Jan. 29 at Wyoming Area, 6 p.m., Feb. 1 vs. GAR, 6 p.m., Feb. 5 at Meyers, 6 p.m., Feb. 7 vs. Nanticoke
Area, 6 p.m., Feb. 9 at Berwick Area, 6 p.m.