WVHS Boys' Basketball: Young Rams Face Growing Pains
If Wyalusing Valley’s boys’ basketball team has hopes of a return trip to the District Four playoffs, a young team will have to grow up fast.
The good news for the Rams, who finished with an 11-10 record last season, is that senior Aaron Johnson returns.
Johnson is seventh on Wyalusing’s all-time scoring list with 1,083 points. He averaged 20.1 points per game en route to earning Northern Tier League first team honors. He was also the team leader in steals with 2.4 per game. He grabbed. 6.7 rebounds per game.
Seniors Kye Novak and Mitchell Pickett are also back as returning lettermen.
Novak averaged 3.1 points and 1.5 assists for the Rams at guard last season.
Pickett, who has shown progress as a ball handler in preseason, saw limited action last year.
Ram head coach Mark Fogel is thankful that Johnson and Novak, who solidified the backcourt last season, are in the lineup.
“Having Aaron and Kye back helps,” Fogel said.
“We have a lot of young kids who are still learning and have a lot of room to improve.”
Entering Friday’s season opener against Sullivan County in the Towanda Tip-Off Tournament, Fogel expects senior Dominic Ciccolini to start at center alongside the three lettermen.
With the graduation loss of Paul Hugo and Tucker Allyn from last year’s squad, the 6-2 Ciccolini has big shoes to fill.
The fifth starter will likely come from juniors Jeremy Allyn, Shane Salsman and Jonah Shotwell.
The remainder of the varsity lineup includes senior Anthony Benninger, who should provide muscle under the glass; juniors Zach Owens and Branden Davis and sophomores Cody Pickett and David Cornelius.
Offensively, Johnson will be the go-to man for the Rams, but other teams know that also and the others “will all have to contribute,” Fogel observed.
Defensively, Fogel expects to play more zone than man defense this year.
“A lot of teams will have more size than us,” Fogel noted. “We’ll have to control the boards.”
Assessing the Northern Tier League East race, Fogel feels that Athens has to be the pre-season favorite with almost everyone returning from last year’s championship team. Robert Fauver, who won many titles as the Athens girls’ coach, steps in to fill the shoes of legendary coach Jim Davis on the Wildcats’ bench.
Towanda, Troy and Sayre should also be contenders. Fogel believes Canton, which had a young team that showed promise last year, could be competitive.
Seniors: Anthony Benninger, Dominic Ciccolini, Aaron Johnson, Kye Novak, Mitchell Pickett.
Juniors: Jeremy Allyn, Branden Davis, Zach Owens, Shane Salsman, Jonah Shotwell.
Sophomores: Dylan Bulick, David Cornelius, Dalton McCullough, Jake Minturn, Cody Pickett, Todd Porter, Jordan Salsman, Dustin Shaw.
Freshmen: Zamien Benditt, Dustin Brown, Terron Millard, Jordan Schools, Kyle Tinna, Matt Woodruff.