Tigers fall to Tribe in summer hoops
The task that lies ahead for second-year head coach Billy Hallman is a lofty one.
After guiding the Northwestern boys basketball team to one of its better seasons in recent memory, Hallman will have to replace much of that senior-laden team. In all, 10 seniors graduated from the winter.
The rebuilding process has already begun for the 2015-16 season, one that is still nearly six months from tipping off. For Hallman and the Tigers, they're getting a taste at some of the area's top competition in the Stellar Construction summer basketball league. And while Thursday's 61-35 loss to Lehighton closed out the third week of play and sent the Tigers to 2-3, there have been signs of improvement.
"We beat Wilson on Tuesday at the buzzer, and that's a game last year that we would have lost," Hallman said. "We're getting there. We'll be all right.
"It's a lot of new pieces. Really there are only two guys that have any varsity experience back from last year. The biggest thing with these guys is they don't have the experience, so they just have to get out there and compete."
The Tigers started off the season with wins against Kutztown and Wilson for a 2-0 record. But losses to Salisbury and Lincoln Leadership, along with Thursday's defeat to Lehighton, have the Tigers on a three-game losing skid.
Against Lehighton, Northwestern scored the game's first basket and led 4-3 in the opening minutes. But the rest of the first half and the entire second half was a different story.
A number of turnovers helped the Indians build an early 17-7 advantage after back-to-back three-pointers. That lead grew to as many as 19 points in the first half before Lehighton entered the break leading 38-20.
The Indians opened the second half on a 9-1spurt and were never threatened.
Two of the top returners from last season are guards Parker Jones and Brady Mengel. Jones does a majority of the Tigers' ball-handling, while Mengel is a gifted wing that provides plenty of size. Both figure to be the leaders in helping the Tigers find their niche this summer and as the offseason progresses.
Jones led the Tigers with 12 points and Mengel added 11 with three treys.
"Parker has been at everything in the offseason so far," Hallman said. "Everything for us is going to go through him. He's very versatile, quick to the basket, [and] he can shoot and rebound.
"Brady is just kind of starting to come around. He's a big baseball player. He's starting to round into shape. Those two are going to be our leaders and carry us, but we need some of the other guys to step up.
One of those other guys figures to be Dustin Snyder.
"Dustin Snyder is going to have to play a huge roll for us," Hallman said. "He's going to have to rebound and play defense for us. He does a little bit of everything, and he is real athletic."
Robbie Seyfried, who missed Thursday's game against the Indians, is a solid post presence that will help the Tiges in the rebounding department and on the defensive end of the court.
Northwestern faces Pleasant Valley on Thursday at 8 p.m. on Cedar Beach's Court 1.