A ban­ner night for Tro­jans in opener


NAN­TI­COKE — When a high school team un­veils a cham­pi­onship ban­ner, it typ­i­cally does so with­out a few key con­trib­u­tors in at­ten­dance.

A year has passed. Play­ers have grad­u­ated.

But that was not the case Fri­day night at Nan­ti­coke Area.

All-state point guard Nate Kre­itzer was one of three Tro­jans in dou­ble-fig­ures scor­ing, as he led the way with 28 points in the reign­ing Wy­oming Val­ley Con­fer­ence Divi­sion 2 cham­pi­ons’ 65-59 win against North Po­cono.

Jake Krupin­ski scored 16 points and Colby Butczyn­ski added 10 for Nan­ti­coke Area, which be­gan the night by cel­e­brat­ing its lat­est ti­tle.

Same-look Nan­ti­coke Area did not have any se­niors on last sea­son’s team.

“It was re­ally cool. It didn’t hap­pen since I don’t even know — 2003,” Kre­itzer, now a se­nior, said while dou­blecheck­ing the newly up­dated Nan­ti­coke Area league cham­pion ban­ner. “It was some­thing. I’ve seen guys from the 2003 team here and it’s in­cred­i­ble that they’re back to see us play.”

Oh, and did Kre­itzer put on a show.

He drained a left-wing 3-pointer with 1:17 to play, giv­ing Nan­ti­coke Area (1-0) a 62-57 lead that eased the team into a win.

How­ever, North Po­cono (0-1) — a young team that went 5-18 a year ago — gave Nan­ti­coke Area all it could han­dle, even lead­ing in the sec­ond half.

“They played ex­cel­lent,” Nan­ti­coke Area head coach John Beggs said of North Po­cono. “They have young guys, a lot of guys mak­ing their first var­sity starts. To be hon­est, they out­played us. They out-toughed us. They kept their com­po­sure. We’re the vet­eran team and this wasn’t a great ef­fort by Nan­ti­coke — it was be­cause North Po­cono took us out of our game.”

Each team spent the first quar­ter knock­ing off rust, shoot­ing a com­bined 9 of 26. Nan­ti­coke Area jumped out to a 14-9 lead.

North Po­cono took control in the sec­ond quar­ter, when it made 8 of 11 shots from the field to go ahead 30-26 at half­time.

“It was just, like, firstgame jit­ters a lit­tle bit,” Krupin­ski said. “They’re out of me now. I’m good.”

Krupin­ski opened the sec­ond half with a steal and fast­break layup. Butczyn­ski stole the ball on the next possession and fin­ished with a layup-and-one, re­turn­ing the 31-30 lead to Nan­ti­coke Area.

Nan­ti­coke Area made its first six field goals of the third quar­ter, racing out to a game-best lead of 12 points, 46-34, when Kre­itzer dished a no-look pass to Krupin­ski for a layup.

But North Po­cono was too scrappy to put away with its come­back reach­ing a fever pitch with 3:45 to play, when Zach Walsh hit a cor­ner 3 to tie the game, 53-53.

“We turned the ball over and we were just out of control,” Kre­itzer said. “But then we set­tled it down. We got the shots that we wanted.”

Those shots in­cluded a J.J. Bi­elecki 3 to go ahead, 56-53; Krupin­ski’s 3 that made it 59-55; and fi­nally Kre­itzer’s game-seal­ing 3 that made it 62-57.

De­marco Maglio led North Po­cono with 18 points, while Robert Van Brunt was close be­hind with 17.

Trah­jan Krupin­ski was the game’s lead­ing re­bounder, col­lect­ing nine boards to go with four points.

“We were re­ally ex­cited about this sea­son com­ing in, and we think this team has po­ten­tial to do great things,” Beggs said. “But that’s just it — po­ten­tial. I hope we’re not rest­ing on our lau­rels from last year. We need im­prove­ment. I thought we showed some growth in the pre­sea­son and the sum­mer, but tonight we just didn’t play our game. I’m hop­ing we can bounce back next week with some qual­ity bas­ket­ball.”

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