Nanticoke Area Ready For Battle Against One Of State’s Top Teams

March 12, 2019 GMT

It’s that time of the year again. Nanticoke Area is gassing up the bus and driving to the Lehigh Valley, where it has a playoff game against one of the top-ranked teams in the state. The Trojans will tip off 7:30 p.m. tonight against District 12 champion Bonner-Prendergast at Freedom High School in the PIAA Class 4A second round. “We got a good amount of film on them,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “We had probably seven or eight films, most of them from the Philadelphia-area schools. They play a fast-paced style of basketball and a physical style of basketball.” Bonner-Prendergast, a private school in Delaware County, is the Trojans’ most daunting opponent in two years. That’s when Nanticoke Area’s Cinderella run to the 2017 PIAA Class 4A semifinals ended with a 60-23 loss against Imhotep Chapter, which was ranked sixth in the country by USA Today. Beggs mentioned Imhotep guard Daron Russell recently scored 41 points for Rhode Island in a win against St. Joe’s. Bonner-Prendergast senior point guard Isaiah Wong and senior power forward Tariq Ingraham are on similar paths to NCAA Division I programs. “We keep an eye on those guys because we like to think we have a small connection to them because we played them,” Beggs said of Imhotep’s handful of D-I players. “I’m sure Wong and their big guy, Ingraham — those guys are both D-I players and they both have promising careers. We’re just going to try to stop them.” Wong is a consensus top-100 player in his class, according to ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. Ingraham reportedly has offers from Villanova, Temple, St. Joe’s, Rutgers, Pitt, Kansas State and others. Wong, a 6-foot-3 senior, is the total package. He’s the Friars’ leader in points (22.9), rebounds (7.4), assists (2.7) and steals (1.8) per game. Wong will play college basketball at Miami (Fla.), choosing the Hurricanes over offers from UConn, Villanova, Clemson, Pitt and others. “He’s their best guy,” Beggs said. “He’s a good shooter, one of their better shooters, and also very strong taking it to the basket. We’re going to have to keep an eye on him at all times, and have two guys responsible for him.” Expect to see point guard Nate Kreitzer and small forward Dylan Szychowski among the players who are defending Wong. Szychowski, a 6-foot senior and three-year starter, is among the most underrated players on a District 2 team. Szychowski averages 2.1 points per game, but his contributions go well beyond the box score, according to Beggs. “He’s our best defender and he’s one of our toughest players,” Beggs said. “What we like to talk about, is it just shows you that basketball is so much more than scoring. As a coaching staff, it just proves that we look beyond pure scoring. We look for guys that do the dirty work and the tough rebounding and play tough basketball.” This is Nanticoke Area’s third consecutive year in the state playoffs. In addition to Imhotep Charter and Bonner-Prendergast, Bethlehem Catholic is another one of the toughest teams Nanticoke Area has played in the state tournament. Nanticoke Area beat Becahi in 2017, but lost in 2018, with Ryan Young, a 6-foot-10 freshman at Northwestern, leading the opposition each time. While Bonner-Prendergast is the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team in Pennsylvania, so is Neumann-Goretti in Class 3A. Wyoming Seminary will play Neumann-Goretti on Wednesday. Trojans in the tourney 2017: W 58-56 vs. Bethlehem Catholic; W 62-54 vs. Conwell-Egan; W 78-62 vs. West Philadelphia; L 60-23 vs. Imhotep Charter 2018: L 71-30 vs. Bethlehem Catholic 2019: W 57-35 vs. Montoursville; TBA vs. Bonner-Prendergast Contact the writer: mbufano@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter