In­di­ans hope to pick up where they left off

Cecil Whig - - & - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

Bol­stered by the re­turn of two stand­out play­ers from last sea­son, the North East boys’ bas­ket­ball team is look­ing to take the next step in 2016-17.

Se­nior for­ward Nasir Wil­liams, the team’s lead­ing scorer from a year ago, and ju­nior team­mate Kobi Matthews will once again suit up for the In­di­ans, who take the court this win­ter with loftier ex­pec­ta­tions after field­ing a mostly in­ex­pe­ri­enced ros­ter last year

Wil­liam re­turns after earn­ing All-County hon­ors, while Matthews gar­nered hon­or­able men­tion ac­co­lades.

“We’re a year older, we’re more ex­pe­ri­enced. We only have five se­niors and we have a ton of ju­niors but they’re far ahead of where they were last year at this time,” sec­ond-year North East coach Alan Foskey said. “I don’t know if we’re go­ing to be a good team but we should be a lit­tle bet­ter, I think.”

The In­di­ans (5-18 over­all, 4-10 Susque­hanna) fell in the open­ing round of the 2A East Re­gion play­offs to Fall­ston after a reg­u­lar sea­son in which they won only two games in the month of Fe­bru­ary. How­ever, close games down the stretch against good op­po­nents show­cased the growth of Foskey’s youth­ful squad.

As the team pre­pares for its sea­son-opener on Tues­day against Pat­ter­son Mill, the sec­ond-year coach doesn’t ex­pect to use the same lineup on a nightly ba­sis. An in­flux of tal­ented play­ers from the pro­gram’s JV squad and the re­turn of sev­eral con­trib­u­tors from last sea­son, in­clud­ing Wil­liams and Matthews, will re­sult in dif­fer­ent floor com­bi­na­tions.

“I think Kevin Gar­nett is go­ing to have a nice year for us. I think Tim Web­ster is go­ing to have a nice year for us. Tim plays much big­ger than he is. He’s re­ally blos­somed,” Foskey said. “Chase Hol­lis­ter is a good shooter. He has good size. Pay­ton Hoskins, who came up from JV, is very solid. Keny­atta Lane is a very solid player. Eric Potts is go­ing to give us some depth at the cen­ter po­si­tion.

“It’s go­ing to be hard for me to put five out there and stay with them the whole time. It’s go­ing to al­most be by com­mit­tee. That depth is go­ing to al­low us to do things that we couldn’t do last year.”

An­chored by their re­turn­ing All-County for­ward, the In­di­ans have the po­ten­tial to fin­ish with a much bet­ter record than last sea­son.

“He’s a kid that gives you 100 per­cent on the floor ev­ery minute he’s out there. He gives you every­thing he has,” Foskey said of Wil­liams, who av­er­aged 11.2 points per game in 201516. “Hope­fully he’ll pick up where he left off.”

Foskey noted that only ju­niors and se­niors will open the year on var­sity, al­low­ing the un­der­class­men to gain ex­pe­ri­ence on JV.

“Last year, you kind of know what we had. We just tried to im­prove each month and I felt we ended on a pretty good note. We played a pretty good Fe­bru­ary,” Foskey said. “[I’ll be happy] if we can pick up where we left off last Fe­bru­ary.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ju­nior guard Ko­bie Matthews, pic­tured, who earned hon­or­able men­tion last sea­son, is one of two re­turn­ing play­ers for the North East boys’ bas­ket­ball team with post­sea­son ac­co­lades.

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