YATESVILLE — The loss of six seniors from last year’s squad will allow for many new faces to step into the starting lineup for this year’s Pittston Area boys basketball team.
The Patriots will be without last year’s leading scorer Tyler McGarry, who is now playing at Misericordia University. Along with McGarry, Pittston Area will also miss Kyle Gattuso, Bernie Kurtinitis, Ryan Hannon, Michael Delaney and Brandon Zaffuto.
McGarry and Delaney did most of the heavy lifting last season for the Patriots. This year, returning starter Jordan Black, along with Alex McAndrew and Pat Mitchell, will have to fill that void.
“Any time you lose guys like McGarry and Delaney, we’re going to have to lean on our defense, especially early on,” Pittston Area coach Alan Kiesinger said. “It’s my belief that you can win with defense, rebounding, intensity and taking care of the ball.”
McGarry averaged just shy of 20 points per game last season. Delaney was next with 10 points per game in Wyoming Valley Conference games.
Traditionally a man-to-man defensive team, Pittston Area may be mixing some things up this season. The Patriots will also be mixing together several different personnel rotations throughout the season.
While the Patriots will fight to put the ball in the basket this season, the team will be able to rely on its big bodies and intensity to create problems for opposing teams. One of the biggest traits this team must have is intensity, Keisinger said.
“If we don’t play with intensity we’re going to struggle,” he said. “They know that. We’re not good enough to win on talent alone. We’re going to have to have an intense toughness in us.”
The Patriots go about 10 players deep this season, Kiesinger said. Coming off a 7-7 season in conference play, Black will now be the centerpiece of the Patriots’ offense.
As a 6-5 athletic swing player, Black has the ability to score the ball in all facets of the game, Keisinger said. In his junior year, he averaged six points per game while shooting nearly 80 percent from the free throw line in WVC games.
“He’s very athletic and has the ability to score in transition,” Keisinger said. “He’s really got a lot of tools and he can score inside as well as outside.”
Along with Black, the Patriots feature some big bodies on the inside. Senior Colin Smith and junior Pat Mitchell both have 6-5 frames. Sophomore Alex McAndrew will do most of the ball handling for the Patriots this season.
In limited time last season, Mitchell averaged three points per contest in WVC games. McAndrew had six points per.
“Alex can score as well,” Kiesinger said. “He’s a guy that can get out in transition and does a nice job with the ball in his hands to create for his teammates.”
The Patriots lineups throughout the season will also feature Chris Klein, Dylan Osticco, Naseem Guillaume, Jimmy Pliska and Mike Mazurkavich.
In the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1, Pittston Area will be tasked with slowing down the likes of perennial powerhouses Hazleton Area and Crestwood. Pittston Area opens its season with four straight road games before hosting Nanticoke on Dec. 16. To start the season, the Patriots will be traveling to Hanover Area for a 7:15 p.m. tip on Friday, Dec. 4.
“I think we can go with some different styles,” Kiesinger said. “We can play up tempo with some different lineups. We can have a nice rotation where we’re subbing every couple minutes.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick