EXETER – Replacing 21 points per game from a five-win team is a daunting task.
Wyoming Area boys basketball coach Pete Moses prefers not to think of it that way.
“People say to me you have to make up 21 points because (Jeremy) Zezza graduated,” Moses said. “That’s true, but I don’t need one kid to come up and score 21 for me. I need a few guys to come up and get a couple more buckets for me every game.
“I need a few guys to stop the other team to make up points on the other end. We don’t have to make up all those points on the offensive end. If we can hold teams to 10 less points that we did last year then that’s less points we have to make up on the other end.”
Wyoming Area made progress on both ends of the floor in Moses’ first season as head coach, going from a winless 2013-14 season to a 5-18 overall mark, including 3-10 in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
More than two-thirds of the point production is gone with graduation losses, including Zezza and Evan Musto, the top two scorers each of the past two seasons, and Dante DeLuca’s decision not to return to the team.
The Warriors do, however, have many players back with valuable experience.
Other than Zezza and Evan Musto, most of last season’s playing time went to young players.
Juniors Anthony Nardell and Tony Saitta return to the starting lineup along with sophomore Kyrie Zielinski. Senior Anthony Shaver also has some starting experience.
Nardell landed the starting point guard position late in his freshman season and occupied that spot most of last year.
“He’s a really tough defender,” Moses said. “He’s very aggressive. He gives 100 percent effort in every practice and every game.”
Saitta was the team’s third-leading scorer. He will handle one of the forward positions.
“He has a really high basketball IQ,” Moses said. “He’s like a coach on the floor. He’s a leader.
“He came to life in the Coughlin game when he had 17 points coming off the bench and really opened some eyes.”
Zielinski was second in scoring among players who return and showed the ability to contribute in many other way.
“There’s really a wealth of talent in our sophomore class,” Moses said. “Kyrie is one of those guys we’re really going to lean on a lot.
“He’s strong; he’s fast; he’s extremely physical on both ends of the floor. He’s a guard that can rebound for us and that can defend in the post for us.”
Moses said he will rely on Kyrie’s play on both ends to help keep the team moving at a fast pace in transition.
Shaver is the only senior who was on the team last year when he was slowed at times by injuries.
Junior Kyle Musto and sophomores Matt Wright and P.J. Angeli should all have increased roles after being used sparingly on the varsity last year.
Moses said Musto has the ability to spread the floor and bust up zones with his long-range shooting. Wright will provide needed front-court help on what is again a small team. Angeli’s athletic ability will make him a force in the press or when a defensive stopper is needed against a particular opponent.
J.J. Neely, a senior center, has returned to the program and could provide a physical presence in the middle when the team’s lack of height proves troublesome.
Sammy Greenfield, a sophomore who is new to the team, could also help at forward.
Moses likes his team’s speed and athleticism, but says the Warriors will need to overcome the potential negatives of the “domino effect” of having natural forwards have to play center and natural guards have to play forward.
Junior Mikey Bonita and sophomores Dylan Melberger, Aaron Zezza and Steve Yordy each move up from the junior varsity or freshmen teams.
John Angelella, Nick Rubino, Daniel Wiedl and Justin Alder are freshmen who Moses has promoted to the varsity/JV program.
“Hopefully, there are some situations where we can find a way to get them into a varsity game this year,” he said.
The Warriors will be trying to improve on a last-place finish in Division 2 of the WVC where GAR is the defending champion and Nanticoke could be regarded as favorite.
Wyoming Area opens Friday night at Old Forge.
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