Jr. high team features up and coming players
Northwestern Lehigh has an up and coming boys basketball program. And those up and comers can be found on the junior high team.
The junior high team, also callled the freshman team, is guided by first year head coach Randy Atiyeh.
His previous coaching experience includes one year as a volunteer assistant at Whitehall High School and one year as the head coach of the middle school squad at Northwestern.
This junior high team, who had only 10 players, started the season off very well. Accumulating three straight wins put everyone around the team in high hopes. As the season went on, the record began to even out and eventually finalized at 10-9. That mark is highlighted by a big revenge win against Bangor in the second last game of the season after the Slaters trounced the Tigers by more than 20 points in their first meeting.
With that victory over Bangor as icing on the cake, Atiyeh says in terms of wins and losses they exceeded his expectations.
"Honestly I thought we were going to be a couple games under .500," he said. "I wouldn't tell my players that as I want them to have high expectations, but I believe we overachieved.
Atiyeh reiterated that it was all about improving as the season progressed. He feels that everyone furthered his skills during the winter.
The starting five of this tightly-knit group were eighth grader John Blaine, freshman Dylan Snyder, eighth grader Jacob Ruch, freshman Chad Kelson-Gallager and freshman Zach Ettl. The two key contributors off the bench complimenting the starting line-up were freshman Connor Hess and freshman Robert Collopy.
One thing Atiyeh noticed with his players as the year went along is that practice really translated into a game
"If we came out and had a flat practice the day before a game, we would start that game out flat," he said.
"So the message to the players was that we are going to practice the way we play. That is the way it is going to be. Practice is a huge thing for us and that is something I will focus on for next year's group."
The rest of the players on the roster included freshman Ian Gruber, freshman Travis Stout, and freshman Dylan Lobach.
"If every one of these players work hard individually and have the determination to improve in the offseason," Atiyeh said. "They will be great players at the varsity level."