Tradition Doesn't Graduate

2013-2014 News

Wiggins chosen for The Morning Call All-Area Team

  As player of the year, Central Catholic's Muhammad Ali 
  Abdur-Rahkman is considered a member of The Morning
  Call's All-Area Team in boys basketball for 2013-14.

  Here are the other 10 terrific players and kids who made
  the cut this year:


  Central Catholic, 6-foot-5, Senior, Forward

  Averaged 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and
  was a major contributor to four District 11 title teams at
  CCHS along with this year’s Lehigh Valley Conference
  championship squad. … Finished his career with just
  under 1,100 points. … Had 23 points against Bethlehem
  Catholic in the league semis and 25 against the Golden
  Hawks in the district semis. … Repeats as an all-area first
  team choice, an all-LVC first team selection and was also
  selected to the Via “Team of the Year.” … “He has been a
  leader in our program since he was a freshman and has
  just has a very charismatic way about him that brings people together,” coach Dennis Csensits said. “He has worked hard at his game and made outstanding improvement.” … Baez is considering several Division II PSAC schools, including Kutztown.


Stroudsburg, 6-foot, Senior, Guard

Averaged 15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game. … A three-year starter who went over the 1,000-point mark in the District 11 4A consolation win over Liberty. Also had the game-winning shot in that game as part of a season-high 29-point effort as the Mounties reached the state tournament for the first time since 1999. … Was a first-team all-MVC selection and a second-team all-area pick last year. … “He showed such steady improvement every year,” coach Shawn Thornton said. “Anything we told him to do to improve he did. Early on in his career, he was a big scorer. He had to learn how to rely on other players and he did and became a great teammate.” … Considering several Division II and III programs including DeSales, Misericordia and East Stroudsburg.


Emmaus, 6-foot-4, Senior, Forward

Averaged 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds this season and finished his career with 874 points. … Was the MVP of the Constitution Christmas tournament in Philadelphia when the Hornets went 3-0. … Was chosen first-team all-LVC and named to the Via “Team of the Year.” … He averaged 15.4 points per game last season when he was a second-team all-area selection. … “Our progress was the highlight of the season,” he said. “We weren’t predicted to go very far but we got into the league tournament and the district finals. We also got into states. I’m very happy with our season.” His overall career highlight was being on a LVC title team as a sophomore. … He is considering several schools including Bloomsburg, DeSales, Muhlenberg, Kutztown and Marywood or may walk-on at Drexel.


Liberty, 6-foot-4, Senior, Forward

Averaged 18.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in repeating as a first-team all-area selection. … In four district games, Oyeniyi averaged 21 points and had career-highs of 29 points and 16 rebounds and a blocked shot on the final possession in a 74-73 win over top-seeded Pocono Mountain West. … He shot 48.7 percent from the field (134-for-275) and 76.3 percent from the free throw line (116-for-152). … “Having Deshawn the last three years has made it a lot easier to coach things on the offensive end,” coach Chad Landis said. “He did a great job scoring the basketball.” … Oyeniyi plans to play in college and is considering several Division II schools, including East Stroudsburg. … He finished his career with 822 points and 541 rebounds.


Notre Dame, 6-foot-2, Senior, Guard

Averaged 22.4 points per game and had a stretch of 15 straight games with at least 20 points or more. … Key figure in team’s 13-game win streak and run to the Colonial League and District 11 2A titles. …He scored 31 points in the District 11 2A title game and had 29 in the PIAA first-round loss to Delaware Valley Charter. He shot 48 percent from the floor and finished his career with more than 1,000 points. He also averaged 13.8 rebounds per game during the season and was the Colonial league MVP. … He was a third-team all-area selection last year. … “Tannor was amazing down the stretch,” coach Pat Boyle said. “The big statistic for me was that in the district championship he had 31 points on 17 shots and he had 29 points on 14 shots in the state game. He was a lot more efficient with his shots than people realize.” … Reed hasn’t finalized his college choice, but is leaning toward Misericordia.


Parkland, 6-foot-3, Senior, Forward

Averaged 14.8 points, six rebounds, two steals and three assists. … Finished his career with 844 points. …Was one of the keys as the Trojans repeated as District 11 4A champs and advanced to the second round of the state tournament for the second straight year. …All-LVC selection. … He had 19 points in the first-round PIAA win over Central Bucks West and 20 in the second-round loss to West Chester Rustin. … Trojans struggled without him when he went out with a sprained ankle and missed three games. … Considering DeSales and Muhlenberg. … “Nick was just a great kid who improved so much since his freshman year,” coach Andy Stephens said. “He’s going to make someone real happy in college because there’s a lot of room for growth. I’m glad he’s going to stay local so we can watch him.”


Bangor, 6-foot-7, Senior, Forward

Averaged 16.7 points per game, had 27 assists, 24 steals and collected 129 rebounds while blocking 110 shots. … Shot 51 percent from 2-point range and was 53-for-133 from 3-point range (40 percent) and was 66 percent at the foul line … He scored 28 points twice — vs. East Stroudsburg North and Palmerton. … He started each of the past two years when the Slaters went 36-13 and won the 2012-13 Colonial League title. … Was a first-team all-Colonial League selection and made the Via “Team of the Year.” … “Jeremy was a big part of us winning our first championship in 25 years and helped to elevate our program,” coach Bron Holland said. “I think his best basketball is in front of him.” … Ringland is uncertain of his college plans.


Central Catholic, 6-foot-8, Senior, Center

Averaged 8.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Shot 64 percent from the field. … Played his first season at CCHS after transferring from Souderton. … Became a major force down the stretch for the Vikings with 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting and eight rebounds in the PIAA 3A second-round win over Bishop McDevitt. He also had 24 points in the 77-63 regular-season win over Parkland. … “Brendan has been a real pleasure to coach,” Csensits said. “I thought just the way he came in and accepted his role spoke volumes about him as a person. He was used to being the leading scorer and rebounder where he was and accepted a role that was not as prominent. You’d be hard-pressed to find many back-to-the-basket post men in the state better than him.” … He is considering several college options.


Pocono Mountain West, 5-foot-9 Senior, Guard

Averaged 23.5 points per game and had 38 assists, 95 offensive rebounds and 82 defensive boards. … Became the first boys player in school history to score more than 1,000 points and was the Mountain Valley Conference player of the year after leading the Panthers to their fourth straight league title. … Over his career at Pocono West, the team went 83-21 and won five championships overall. … He had a season-high 34 points in a triple-overtime game against Allen. … Shot 50.8 percent from the field, making 21 3-pointers. … Was chosen to the Via “Team of the Year.” … Was a third-team all-area choice last year.


Parkland, 6-foot-1, Senior, Guard

Averaged 14.9 points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists. … Started already as a freshman and finished his career with over 1,000 points, reaching the milestone in the district quarterfinals against Allen. … First-team all-LVC selection and chosen to the Via “Team of the Year.” … “Justin can play and defend all five positions on the court,” Stephens said. “Justin was mature at a young age and so coachable, a real leader. He was just a real competitive kid who gave us everything he had.” … Was one of three captains along Rindock and Jimmy Hahn. … Among his college options are Cabrini, West Chester, Bloomsburg and DeSales.


Wiggins named to Team of the Year at Via's Award Banquet

The night featured the induction of four individuals and one special team into the Lehigh Valley Basketball Hall of Fame.

The individuals inducted were former Emmaus High, University of Pittsburgh and current NBA player Aaron Gray; former Central Catholic and Syracuse standout Sara Antolick; former Phillipsburg Catholic star and longtime college coach and commentator Tom Brennan; and longtime RCN4 broadcaster Gary Laubach.

The team honored was Allen's 1981 state championship girls squad coached by Lou Sabler.

Central Catholic's Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Southern Lehigh's Madelene McDonald were recognized as the Via players of the year.

The Via boys Team of the Year featured Central's Jeanlee Baez, Parkland's Justin Zajko, Bangor's Jeremy Ringland, Pocono Mountain West's Joe Wiggins and Emmaus' Nate Feiertag.

The Via girls Team of the Year was composed of Northampton's Leandra Sterner, Bethlehem Catholic's Janelle Robinson, Northwestern's Trista Cunningham, Central Catholic's Emma Redding and Angelica Bertola of Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg.


  Pocono Mountain West was going to  
  need a big year from Joe Wiggins  
  and he knew the best way to
  provide it was to be as consistent as

  With two freshmen in Panthers'
  starting lineup and inexperience
  throughout their roster, it was up to
  Wiggins to lead the way vocally and
  with his play. And there was no
  better way to do the latter than
  playing well on a nightly basis.

It was a role Wiggins played with great success."If I'm not consistent I don't feel like I'm playing well," Wiggins said. "And it's not just the scoring. I need to pick up rebounds and getting some assists to equal out my game. Consistency was going to play a big role."

Wiggins scored in double figures in all 25 games, scored at least 20 points 19 times and had four 30-point games in helping Pocono West win its fourth straight Mountain Valley Conference championship. Wiggins also set a single-season school record with 589 points on his way to becoming the first male in school history to score 1,000 career points.

"He was a warrior," PM West coach Brad Pensyl said. "If you're going to go to battle, you're going to take him with you. Joe and I had numerous talks about what I needed him to do and I told him, 'You cannot have a bad game and you have to play well or we're just not going to win.' And he got it and he understood what we needed."

Wiggins is the Pocono Record boys basketball Player of the Year.

Pensyl knew he had a pretty good player to work with once Wiggins reached ninth grade.

The talent was evident early, but Wiggins was also able to learn from players who were more experienced. He played limited minutes for the varsity team in 2010-11, but the foundation was set for Wiggins' future.

"I had the opportunity to work him in slowly and let him work with the kids who were ahead of him," Pensyl said. "We've always had really good guards at this school, but with him as a ninth grader I obviously knew he had some talent. I don't think there's any question about that."

It was going to take more than talent to become a good player.

While Wiggins learned the ropes of what it took to turn that talent into performance, he was able to soak up information from the upperclassmen he played with. Guys like Tynell Fortune, Kevin Anema, Quindell Brice and Keon Scott all set good examples that Wiggins stored away for when it was his time to be the Panthers' leader.

"When I was a freshman I just sat back and played my role, but I observed the guys ahead of me about how to know what to do, when to do it and how to fit into the program," said Wiggins, who has garnered interest from Division-I schools Delaware State, Norfolk State and North Carolina Central. "It was a great experience to come in after them and follow in their footsteps.

"Those guys taught me the little things that would help me lead the team. That set me up for my senior year."

That senior year was a big one and saw him do something no other Panther had done before.

As he scoring average hovered around 23 points per game, Wiggins was set to become the first male to score 1,000 career points. The moment came in West's second to last regular season game, an 88-40 victory over rival Pocono Mountain East.

"It was a great feeling," said Wiggins, who ended his career with 1,107 points. "As I was approaching it I tried not to let it bother me too much or let it be a distraction. I just came out and played my game, and tried to be consistent.

"Getting it that night against our rivals was amazing. Knowing that you're the first to do made it even better and there will be more after me, but being the first to do it was a feeling I enjoyed."


Singh lands on Pocono Record second-team; Cooper & I. Wiggins Honorable Mention

First team

Guards — Jacob Battle, Sr., Stroudsburg; O'Neil Holder, Sr., ES South; Joe Wiggins, Sr., PM West.

Forwards — Isaiah Battle, Sr., ES North; Danny Cuevas, Jr., Stroudsburg.

Second team

Guards — Andre Jackson, Jr., Edwin Lopez, Jr., Stroudsburg; ES South; Tyerell Mann, Jr., Notre Dame ES; Lance Singh, Fr., PM West.

Forward — Marquis Brown, Sr., Pleasant Valley.

Honorable mention

ES North — Malique John, Sr., G; ES South — Kyle Kelly, Sr., G; Notre Dame ES — Rob Farley, Sr., F; Ramon Nedd, Jr., F; Pleasant Valley — Bryan Sharpe, Jr., G; PM East — Levert Comas, Sr., G; Jake Steckel, Jr., G; PM West — Sean Cooper, Sr., F; Isaiah Wiggins, Fr., G; Stroudsburg — Evan Choy, Sr., G.


There's no shortage of star power on the Pocono Record's All-Area boys basketball team.

Stroudsburg's Jacob Battle and Pocono Mountain West's Joe Wiggins, who both went over the 1,000-point milestone this season, and East Stroudsburg South's O'Neil Holder are on the first team for a second straight year. East Stroudsburg North's Isaiah Battle and Stroudsburg's Danny Cuevas join them in the frontcourt.

Here's the first team:Wiggins is the Player of the Year after a 589-point season where he helped the Panthers win their fourth straight Mountain Valley Conference championship. Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg's Lorenzo Sanders is the Coach of the Year after leading the Spartans to the District 11 Class A playoffs for the first time since 2010. Sanders, who was an assistant under long-time coach Bob Mullen, guided Notre Dame to a 16-win season despite losing last year's leading scorer Olsbey Mercer to a knee injury in the preseason.


East Stroudsburg South senior O'Neil Holder had another outstanding season to cap a fantastic career. A repeat first teamer, Holder led the Cavaliers in scoring with 13.7 points per game. He scored in double figures 15 times, including a season-high 25 points in a victory over Pocono Mountain East on Jan. 16. Holder, who is looking at Arcadia University and Moravian College, also averaged six rebounds and three assists per game.

Stroudsburg senior Jacob Battle is back on the first half after having a huge year in helping the Mounties reach the PIAA tournament for the first time since 1999. A starter since his sophomore year, Battle scored a career-high 29 points to go over 1,000 for his career in Stroudsburg's 67-64 victory over Liberty in the consolation game of the District 11 Class AAAA playoffs. Battle, who has drawn interest from a number of Division II and D-III schools, finished his career with 1,027 points to become the ninth male in school history to reach that mark and the first since 2000. Battle, who made 67 3-pointers this season and 162 for his career, also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and led the Mounties in steals (71).

Pocono Mountain West needed Joe Wiggins to have a big year and the senior responded in a big way. Wiggins, another repeat first teamer, led Monroe County in scoring at 23.6 ppg and became the first male in school history to score 1,000 career points, while helping the Panthers win a fourth straight MVC title. Wiggins scored in double figures in every game, scored at least 20 points 18 times and had three 30-point games. Wiggins, who has drawn interest from Division I schools Delaware State, Norfolk State and North Carolina Central, finished his career with 1,107 points.


East Stroudsburg North's Isaiah Battle established himself as one of District 11's top frontcourt players. The senior was a force on both ends of the court while helping the Timberwolves qualify for the MVC and district playoffs. Battle led ES North in scoring (16.4 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 per game). Battle was also consistent, scoring in double figures 20 out of 24 games. He had seven games where scored at least 20 points.

Stroudsburg's Danny Cuevas had a breakout season in 2013-14. The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 14.5 ppg and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Mounties. Cuevas, who has already drawn interest from several D-II colleges, scored in double figures 22 times in 26 games before a knee injury in the district semifinals ended his season. He also led the Mounties in blocked shots (40).


West mounts furious comeback only to fall short in District XI quarter-final


BRODHEADSVILLE - After falling behind by as many as 19 points, No.1 West made a furious comeback only to fall short 74-73 to No. 9 Liberty in the District XI quarter-final on Saturday night.

The loss ends a season for the Panthers where they captured the Mountain Valley Conference title for the fourth year in a row and the last championship in the league's existence. The championship run came after being picked in the preseason no better than third-place by any area media outlet.

The Panthers finished the season with a record of  20-5 - making it the eighth straight season the program has tallied at least 20 wins.



Brad Pensyl's success at Pocono Mt. West won't end with the Mountain Valley Conference
The son of legendary coach Bill Pensyl has carved his own niche as one of the area's best, going 25-for-25 in district appearances.

Monday night's Mountain Valley Conference championship win by Pocono Mountain West — a resounding 71-52 rout of rival Stroudsburg — offered a bittersweet moment for Panthers coach and athletic director Brad Pensyl.

While winning the program's fourth straight MVC title and seventh crown overall was satisfying, especially for a team with a lot of question marks before the season, it was the last MVC game to be played.

Pocono Mountain West and five other Monroe County schools will be merging with the Lehigh Valley Conference to form an 18-school league next season and while the six MVC'ers will be in the same division, it won't quite be the same.

"It was a little bit of different emotions because it was a nice league we had," Pensyl said. "It obviously was small, and I will miss that smallness. At the same time, I'm looking forward to the bigger league."

Make no mistake, however, Pensyl and the Panthers won't get swallowed up by the big league.

Pocono Mountain West has become one of the most respected programs in all of District 11 and Pensyl has carved his niche as one of the district's most successful coaches.

In 25 seasons overall, including 12 at West after Pocono Mountain split into two high schools, Pensyl is 466-186. That's an outstanding .715 winning percentage.

Even more impressive is that none of his 25 teams have ever failed to qualify for districts.

True, they've only won one district title — beating Parkland two years ago in the 4A finals — but Pensyl's consistency and success on the court should be admired.

Just as impressive is how he conducts his program.

Remember, these are not your grandfather's Pocono Mountains.

The demographics have changed dramatically in Monroe County, just as they have in the Lehigh Valley, and those changes have provided challenges.

"We've had some really good players come through, but we've also had some issues that we've had to deal with here," Pensyl said. "We've had problems and we took the appropriate steps and disciplined the kids and stayed on top of it. We've done it right.

"For the most part, our kids are fantastic. I don't want to sound negative because they hear enough negatives. When you have kids moving in from New York City and what have you, it's hard to make an adjustment. It's demanding. So, they deserve credit for making that adjustment. They get it."

In a sense, Pensyl is a lot like Allen's Doug Snyder in that his mission is to save lives while winning basketball games.

Using hoops as a carrot stick, Pensyl has been able to guide many kids who would otherwise be lost, on to a path that can lead toward success.

"We spell out the rules and what we expect and I don't deviate from the rules," he said. "I don't care what kid it is or what game it is, I enforce the rules swiftly. That's the way it is. Some people tell me I am old-school or whatever. I just think that's the way it should be done. I don't think kids should be dictating to coaches about how things should be run. Our kids understand that. That's why we're successful."

Pensyl said his methods don't' reach everybody. He said there are many kids in the school who are capable of playing basketball, but chose not to because they can't comply.

It's a very different era than what he encountered while growing up in Bangor and playing for his father, the legendary Bill Pensyl, who was 449-433 in 28 seasons in charge of the Slaters.

"I've been coaching for 32 years and it's hard to coach today," Brad said. "It's a lot more difficult than it was when I first started. You've got so many different things to deal with … the AAU stuff, the social-media stuff, the Internet crap and the unrealistic expectations of parents who think their kids are all going to get full scholarships.

"When I started coaching back in 1982 we didn't have any of these things. We just kind of went out and coached. It's really difficult, especially for young people, to get into the business. There are a lot of hoops to jump through today and I don't coach now the way I did 25 years ago. Actually, I've tightened up rather than loosened up. I've become more strict and more demanding than I was. I've had to."

Pensyl realizes that everybody has different problems.

Some coaches have troubles keeping an excessive number of talented players and their parents happy.

Some don't have enough players in their building to build a program.

Pensyl said his biggest problem is "getting kids [rides] to our practices on weekends and making sure they have rides to games."

Somehow, Pensyl makes it work. And there's little doubt, he'll make it work in the new 18-team super conference.

Certainly, Mike DelGrosso, a former Liberty High standout and Pensyl's longtime assistant, believes in Pensyl.

"He's one of the best coaches in the Valley, if not the Eastern part of the state," DelGrosso said after the 2012 district title win. "He's all about the kids and it's never about just winning. It's about teaching the kids the need to do the right things. It's about being a good person."

For years, Pensyl's teams have been playing East Penn Conference and Lehigh Valley Conference programs, so the talent level in the new league, won't come as a shock.

Plus, West will come armed with some talented young players.

This year's roster features the area's leading scorer in senior Joe Wiggins, but also three talented freshmen in Lance Singh, A.J. Simon and Isaiah Wiggins.

Back in early December, Pensyl said the season's success would depend on the development of the ninth-graders and now those rookies are playing like veterans. That's why West is on a 12-game win streak and the No. 1 seed in the 4A bracket entering Saturday night's quarterfinal against Liberty.

"Everybody's got a shot in the 4A tournament this year, including us," he said. "At the beginning of the year, I didn't think we had a shot, but now I do. You only have to win two to get into the finals. We certainly have an opportunity.

"I don't like to use the cliché that nobody expected us to be here. But this year, more than any other year, no one even mentioned us. I wasn't too sure myself. But we got hot and we're playing OK right now. Parkland probably is the best team, but a lot of teams have a chance. We're one of them."


Pocono Mountain West's Jackie Benitez and Joe Wiggins were chosen as the Most Valuable Players by the Mountain Valley Conference basketball coaches.

Benitez and Wiggins, who both helped their teams earn the first seed for this week's MVC playoffs, both went over 1,000 points for their careers this season.

East Stroudsburg South's Cy Lippold and Lisa Steakin joined Benitez on the All-MVC first team, which was also made up of Pleasant Valley's Keri Dekmar and Pocono Mountain East's Alpreshia Paker.

Stroudsburg's Jacob Battle and East Stroudsburg South's O'Neil Holder were repeated choices on the first team. Pocono West freshman Lance Singh and East Stroudsburg North's Isaiah Battle also made the first team.

— Joe Miegoc



First team

Joe Wiggins, PM West; Lance Singh, PM West; Jacob Battle, Stroudsburg; Isaiah Battle, ES North, O'Neil Holder, ES South.

Second team

Danny Cuevas, Stroudsburg; Marquis Brown, Pleasant Valley; Isaiah Wiggins, PM West; Andre Jackson, ES South; Jake Steckel, PM East.

Honorable mention

Maliqe John, ES North; Anthony Rossino, Lehighton; James Farano, Lehighton; Will Quiles, ES North.


First team

Jackie Benitez, PM West; Cy Lippold, ES South; Alpreshia Parker, PM East; Lisa Steakin, ES South; Keri Dekmar, Pleasant Valley.

Second team

Cheyanne Ruggiero, PM East; Mackenzie Dorney, Pleasant Valley; Khyasia Caldwell, PM East; Tiffany Thompson, Lehighton; Kaitlyn Poje, ES South; Abby Battle, Stroudsburg.

Honorable mention

Sicole Walters, PM West; Jasmine Murray, PM West.


BRODHEADSVILLE — Pocono Mountain West wasn't sure where it could go when the season started, but the Panthers found themselves in a familiar position when the final Mountain Valley Conference game was played.

Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 28 points and the top-seeded Panthers used a 23-2 run through the third and fourth quarters to run away with their fourth straight MVC title after capturing a 71-52 victory over No. 2 Stroudsburg at Pleasant Valley on Monday.

Pocono West (20-4), who clinched its eighth straight 20-win season, had one of the MVC's top players in Joe Wiggins coming into the season, but there were unknowns in other areas. Sean Cooper was back in the starting lineup, but the Panthers were going to have to depend on several freshmen if they wanted to compete for the final MVC championship before the conference merges with the Lehigh Valley Conference next school year.

"It was so hard at the beginning with so many young kids and we had such a mixture of seniors and freshmen that I really did not think that we would be here in this (championship) game," PM West coach Brad Pensyl said. "But here we are, and we won it again."

The Panthers weren't sure either, but they changed their thinking at the midway point of the season.

Pocono West was 8-4 through 12 games after a 61-58 loss to the Mounties (14-10), but haven't lost since. The Panthers ran off 10 straight victories to end the regular season and thought they could continue that play come playoff time.

"In the beginning of the year, to be honest, we didn't really think we'd get this far," said Wiggins, who went over 20 points for the 17th time this season Monday. "We had some freshmen coming up who had to learn the system, but midway through the season we started clicking and we thought we could make a run and we did."

Neither team had played since last Tuesday's semifinals and were rusty to start.

Both turned the ball over eight times in the opening quarter, but Wiggins' 3-pointer just before the clock ran out put West up 13-10. The Panthers led by as much as seven late in the second quarter, but Stroudsburg scored the final four points of the half to make it 28-25 at the break.

Stroudsburg took its first lead since midway through the first quarter when Danny Cuevas scored from in close with 4:14 left in the third and led 41-40 with 1:21 to go, but it was all West from there on.

Starting with Wiggins' three-point play with 49 seconds to go in the third, the Panthers scored 14 straight points. John Cromartie's layup, Stroudsburg's first field goal in 6:40, stopped the Mounties' scoreless streak, but the Panthers scored nine straight to go up 63-43 with 3:38 left.

"We made some adjustments from the first time we played them and the one thing I thought we did really well was box out," said Pensyl, who has guided West to seven MVC titles in the past 10 seasons. "We got in some passing lanes and took care of the ball a little bit better, but for the most part I thought once Stroudsburg made a run that we were able to answer it."

Sammond Field (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Isaiah Wiggins (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals) also keyed the Panthers' victory, and Joe Wiggins was outstanding as usual.

Named the Most Valuable Player by the MVC coaches after becoming the first male to score 1,000 career points at PM West, Wiggins was steady throughout the title game. He scored five in the first quarter, six more in the second, nine in the third before finishing the game with eight points in the final eight minutes. A member of four MVC title teams and the 2012 District 11 Class AAAA champions, Wiggins provided the veteran leadership the Panthers needed in the biggest game of the season.

"I'm the guy to get us hyped up," said Wiggins, who also had five rebounds and four steals. "I try to get everybody motivated before the game and try to get everyone's mindset right. We all have roles on this team and my role is to get everyone together and make sure we play together.

"And we all came together as a family (Monday)."

No. 1 PM West 71, No. 2 Stroudsburg 52


Battle 2 0-1 6, Gordon 2 2-6 6, Choy 2 0-0 6, Lopez 2 5-7 11, Cuevas 2 4-7 8, Bermudez 1 0-0 2, Cromartie 3 1-2 7, Thornton 0 0-0 0, Odhiambo 0 0-0 0, Brandt 1 3-3 5. Totals — 15 15-26 52.

PM WEST (71)

Field 3 4-7 10, Cooper 0 0-0 0, I. Wiggins 4 7-8 15, J. Wiggins 9 8-11 28, Singh 2 2-2 6, Simon 1 0-0 2, Brathwaite 1 3-4 6, Hardy 0 0-0 0, Archer 1 0-0 2, Howard 1 0-0 2, Jackson 0 0-0 0, Nurse 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 24-32 71.

Stroudsburg 10 15 16 11 — 52

PM West 13 15 17 26 — 71

3-point goals — S 6 (Choy 2, Lopez 2, Battle 2); PMW 3 (J. Wiggins 2, Brathwaite). Rebounds — S 44 (Gordon 7); PMW 43 (Field 12). Assists — S 11 (Lopez 5); PMW 11 (I. Wiggins 5). Steals — S 9 (Cromartie 3); PMW 13 (I. Wiggins, J. Wiggins 4). Blocks — S 3 (Cuevas 3); PMW 2 (Field, Archer). Turnovers — S 19; PMW 17.

Records — Stroudsburg 14-10; PM West 20-4.


Panthers earn No. 1 seed in District XI 'AAAA' tournament

Pocono Mountain West's boys and girls basketball teams were given the No. 1 seed for the District 11 Class AAAA playoffs.

The Panthers, who will both try to defend their Mountain Valley Conference championships Monday, were awarded the top seeds based on their district rankings. Usually teams who win their conference championships are given high seeds, but District 11 had its seeding meeting Sunday. The same thing happened in 2008 when Pocono Mountain East's girls team was given the No. 1 seed only to have East Stroudsburg South win the MVC title.

The Panthers will go for a fourth straight MVC boys championship Monday when they meet Stroudsburg at 8 p.m. at Pleasant Valley. PM West meets Pocono Mountain East for the girls tittle at 6 p.m. at PV on Monday.

In the boys bracket, Pocono West will play the winner of Wednesday's matchup between No. 8 Whitehall-No. 9 Liberty in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. at Pleasant Valley on Saturday. Third-seeded East Stroudsburg North plays No. 6 Stroudsburg at 6 p.m. at PV on Saturday. In the Class A playoffs, No. 4 Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg plays No. 5 Moravian Academy at 7:30 p.m. at Pleasant Valley on Friday.

In the Class AAAA girls bracket, the Panthers will play the winner of Tuesday's No. 8 Emmaus-No. 9 Pottsville game in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. at Northampton on Friday. Fourth-seeded Pleasant Valley plays No. 5 PM East at 6 p.m. at Northampton on Friday. Seventh-seeded Northampton hosts No. 10 East Stroudsburg South in the opening round at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. In the Class A playoffs, No. 4 Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg plays No. 5 Williams Valley in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. at Blue Mountain on Saturday.


Seniors Wiggins & Cooper voted into VIA Classic All-Star game on March 29th

The LV West will play the Colonial League and the LV East will play the Mountain Valley:

Lehigh Valley West

Coach: Andy Stephens, Parkland

Name High School Position

Muhammad Ali AbdurRahkman Central Catholic Guard

Jeanlee Baez Central Catholic Forward

Daiyon Barnett William Allen Guard

Jimmy Hahn Parkland Guard

Tyshyn Harmon Dieruff Guard

Nathan Feiretag Emmaus Forward

Aaron Keglovits Whitehall Guard

Joey Nicolini Emmaus Forward

Isaiah Palmer William Allen Forward

Nick Rindock Parkland Guard

Brendan Wagner Central Catholic Center

Justin Zajko Parkland Forward

 Lehigh Valley East

Coach: Ben Childs, Easton

Name High School Position

Jamal Aziz Bethlehem Catholic Guard

Austin Cordero Nazareth Guard

Edward Hudak Bethlehem Catholic Forward

John Kassis Nazareth Guard

Justin Lenzer Bethlehem Catholic Guard

Nigel Long Freedom Guard

Steve Maciejczyk Easton Guard

Erik Oakley Easton Forward

Deshawn Oyeniyi Liberty Forward

Piefka Stonewall Northampton Forward

Tyler Troxell Phillipsburg Guard

David Williams Freedom Center

 Mountain Valley

Coach: Rich Oertner, Lehighton

Name High School Position

Isaiah Battle ES North Forward

Jacob Battle Stroudsburg Guard

Marquis Brown Pleasant Valley Center

Evan Choy Stroudsburg Guard

Sean Cooper PM West Forward

Robert Farley Notre Dame ES Forward

O'Neil Holder ES South Forward

Anthony Holmes Pius X Guard

Mailqe John ES North Guard

Will Quiles ES North Guard

Anthony Rossino Lehighton Guard

Joe Wiggins PM West Guard

Colonial League

Coach: Jason Weaver, Salisbury

Name High School Position

Justin Aungst Salisbury Forward

Matt Egan Northern Lehigh Guard

Vincent Eze Notre Dame Center

Luke Gutekunst Moravian Academy Forward

Josh Landsberger Northern Lehigh Center

Paryss Marshall Catasaqua Forward

Keith Mosher Saucon Valley Guard

Brandon Purrone Catasaqua Guard

Tannor Reed Notre Dame Forward

Jeremy Ringland Bangor Forward

Eddie Sanchez Salisbury Guard

Austin Uhl Salisbury Center


No shot in Stroudsburg's 68-57 Mountain Valley Conference playoff victory over East Stroudsburg North on Tuesday night was more important than the 3-pointer Mountaineers senior Jacob Battle made with 4:14 remaining.

Those three points stopped the Timberwolves' 6-0 run that sliced Stroudsburg's lead from double digits to 51-45. Those points also propelled the Mounties on a 6-0 spurt of their own, as Evan Choy followed with another 3-pointer, and coach Shawn Thornton's second-seeded Stroudsburg squad quickly regained control.

Stroudsburg (14-9) will meet three-time defending MVC champion Pocono Mountain West (19-4) in Friday night's final at a site to be determined.

Pocono Mountain West exploded in the second half of Tuesday night's second semifinal on the Panthers' home court in Pocono Summit and cruised to an 82-51 rout of Lehighton.

In the opener, Stroudsburg was in desperate need of a basket when the Timberwolves cut a 14-point lead to six.

At the time, Battle, who drained four 3-pointers in the opening half, was thinking in the moment. But Thornton, the Mounties' veteran coach, was thinking big picture.

"I really didn't even think about the circumstances," Battle said. "I was open so I shot. I'm just happy it went in."

He credited teammate Lamar Gordon for a smart pass to set up his shot.

Thornton thought Battle's 3-pointer, and Choy's triple 21 seconds later, were the biggest baskets of the contest.

"They were huge, gutsy shots," said Thornton, who was otherwise disappointed with his club's execution and toughness. "Those two guys showed a level of confidence that's encouraging.

"Jacob Battle was feeling it a little, and any time he's feeling it, he has the green light. And Evan Choy was struggling with his shot in the last week, but he's a good shooter. He picked a good time to hopefully come out of it."

Stroudsburg showed excellent inside-outside balance.

Danny Cuevas, a 6-foot-6 junior, showed off a variety of post moves and was an efficient 7-of-9 from the field for 16 points. He added 10 rebounds. Battle led the Mounties with 18 points and Edwin Lopez scored six of his 16 in the final period.

"Danny was huge," Battle said. "He's really tough when he's in the paint one-on-one, and when they crashed on him, it left us open for 3s."

Senior Isaiah Battle paced coach Kevin Kennedy's Timberwolves with 22 points. East Stroudsburg North (17-6) led 8-6 early, but a 7-0 burst by the Mounties in the second quarter made it a double-digit contest.

Now, Stroudsburg can prepare for a Pocono Mountain West team it defeated 61-58 on Jan. 17. (The teams split two conference matchups.)

Thornton, with an experienced and talented roster, expected to be in position to claim a conference crown.

"I think there's a difference between goals and expectations," he said. "We expected to play for the championship this season, knowing what we had back and what was out there, but it's been our goal to win the title."

To do that, the Mounties will need to knock off the tournament's No. 1 seed that is playing its best basketball of the season.

Coach Brad Pensyl's Pocono Mountain West club captured its 11th consecutive victory with a 31-point triumph over Lehighton. The Panthers have been perfect since that mid-January setback to Stroudsburg.

Their game against Lehighton was a seven-point affair — at 47-40 with 3:41 left in the third quarter — before they used a 13-0 sprint to run away. Five different players scored baskets during that stretch.

Overall, senior forward Sean Cooper led five players in double figures with 14 points. MVC MVP Joe Wiggins, a senior guard, contributed 13 points, as did freshman guard Lance Singh. Sammod Field added 12 and Royce Braithwaite finished with 10.

"Joey's dominated our team in scoring, no question," Pensyl said, "but some of our other guys showed what they're capable of."

Pocono West's pressure defense was the difference. The Panthers forced Lehighton into 23 turnovers and turned many of those into transition points.

"I think we were able to wear them out with our pressure," said Pensyl, who used a 10-player rotation compared with the Indians' six.

Tyler Crum led Lehighton (13-10) with 14 points.

MVC semifinals


East Stroudsburg North 10 12 13 22 – 57

Stroudsburg 15 15 17 21 – 68


Battle 8-17 6-10 22, Mangassoubba 2-3 2-2 6, Drakeford 2-5 0-0 4, W. Quiles 3-8 1-2 7, Kirton 4-10 3-4 11, Turpin 1-2 1-2 3, John 1-6 0-0 2, D. Quiles 1-4 0-0 2, Cox 0-2 0-0 0, Cartegena 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-57 13-20 57.


Cuevas 7-9 2-5 16, Lopez 5-14 6-8 16, Battle 6-12 1-5 18, Choy 3-9 0-0 8, Gordon 0-0 2-2 2, Bermudez 0-2 2-2 2, Cromartie 0-0 0-0 0, Thornton 1-2 0-0 2, Odhiambo 2-2 0-0 4. Totals: 24-50 13-22 68.

3-point goals: East Stroudsburg North (0-12); Stroudsburg (7-16): Battle 5, Choy 2. Rebounds: East Stroudsburg North 36 (Battle 11); Stroudsburg 34 (Cuevas 10). Assists: East Stroudsburg North (W. Quiles 5); Stroudsburg (Lopez 6). Turnovers: East Stroudsburg North 10; Stroudsburg 15.

Officials: Frank D'Angelo, Bud Kohler, Mark Horn.


Lehighton 13 17 12 9 – 51

Pocono Mountain West 23 17 22 20 – 82


Crum 5-14 1-2 14, J. Knappenberger 3-12 5-5 12, Mele 5-5 0-0 10, Farano 3-8 2-4 8, Rossino 2-6 2-4 6, Chambers 0-2 1-2 1, K. Knappenberger 0-0 0-0 0, McCandless 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Zwetolitz 0-0 0-0 0, Ruzika 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-47 11-17 51.


Singh 5-15 0-0 13, Field 5-5 2-2 12, J. Wiggins 5-11 2-2 13, I. Wiggins 3-7 0-0 7, Cooper 6-12 0-1 14, Brathwaite 3-7 2-2 10, Howard 1-1 0-0 3, Simon 2-2 0-0 4, Hardy 0-1 0-0 0, Archer 3-3 0-0 6. Totals: 33-64 6-7 82.

3-point goals: Lehighton (4-20): Crum 3, J. Knappenberger; Pocono Mountain West (10-20): Singh 3, J. Wiggins, I. Wiggins, Cooper 2, Brathwaite 2, Howard. Rebounds: Lehighton 28 (Farano 6); Pocono Mountain West 32 (Singh, Field 6). Assists: Lehighton 10 (Rossino 5); Pocono Mountain West 18 (J. Wiggins 6). Turnovers: Lehighton 23; Pocono Mountain West 10.

Officials: Kevin Boylan, Jim Barker, Ron Singer.


  There has been no shortage of really 
  good boys basketball players since Pocono
  Mountain West opened its doors in 2002.

  The names are almost endless. There's
  Jovan Smalls, T.J. Lundy, Rasheed Walters,
  Jon Mangual, Kyerell Scott, Phil Leyro,
  Tynell Fortune, Kevin Anema, Ty Dixon,
  Mike Collins, Quindell Brice and Eric Vick.

  Five of those players (Mangual, Fortune,
  Brice, Smalls and Vick) were Most Valuable
  Players of the Mountain Valley Conference
  and Pocono Record Players of the Year.

  Joe Wiggins has risen to that level — and

When Wiggins scored 20 points in Friday's victory over Pocono Mountain East, he accomplished something no other male at West had done. Wiggins' 19th and 20th points — which came on a dunk — were the 1,000th and 1,001st of his career, making him the first player to reach that milestone. Scott (931) and Fortune (929) had come the closest.

"I try not to think about it too much because I don't want to be a distraction, but it's obviously a huge accomplishment," Wiggins said. "When I look down the line, and I'm sure there will be plenty after me, it will be pretty neat to be at the first one."

A nice-sized chunk of Wiggins' 1,032 points have come this season.

Through 22 regular-season games, the senior guard has scored 514 points. Wiggins has scored in double figures in every game, scored at least 20 points 16 times and went for a career-high 34 points in a double overtime loss to Allen on Jan. 13. His 31 points in Saturday's 86-60 victory helped the Panthers win their 10th straight game heading into this week's MVC payoffs, where they'll be the top seed and try to win a fourth straight championship.

"Every single person on this team has a role and my role just happens to be scoring and doing as much as I can for this team," said Wiggins, who was an All-MVC and All-Area first-team pick as a junior after scoring 361 points. "Consistency is something I strive for. If I'm not consistent I feel like I'm not playing well. I owe that to my team, to be as consistent as I can every game to help my team win games."

Wiggins' breakout season is nothing new at Pocono West.

Mangual didn't play a minute on the varsity team until his junior year and helped the Panthers win two straight MVC titles and advance to the second round of the PIAA tournament in 2008. Fortune scored 521 points as a senior to help West win an MVC title in 2011. Brice's 438 points in 2012 helped the Panthers repeat and win their first District 11 Class AAAA championship. Vick was the conference MVP last year after scoring 395 points and guiding the Panthers to a three-peat.

"One thing we've been very consistent at our school is that our guys do wait their turn," PM West coach Brad Pensyl said. "I don't have those selfish kids who don't want to play if they're not starting or scoring. Joe did play well last year, but it was Eric Vick's turn. The year before that Eric was in the background and watched Quindell and Ty Dixon. The year before that those guys waited for Tynell Fortune.

"That's just the way we do things here."

Something the Panthers also do is win championships.

Starting with the first championship in school history in 2005, Pocono West has won six MVC titles of the last nine conference championships. To make it 7 out of 10 — and make a run at another district title — the Panthers will need Wiggins to continue playing as well in the playoffs as he did in the regular season.

"Up to this point Joey has had an outstanding year, but I told him we still have a lot of basketball to play," Pensyl said. "Hopefully we can be playing well when it counts, which is (this) week and next week (when districts start). That's when it counts and that's what we're geared up for."


Swiftwater — Lance Singh scored 27 points on seven three-pointers, breaking '13 alum Eric Vick's former record of six, in Pocono Mountain West's 88-40 victory over Pocono Mountain East in Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball Friday night.

Joe Wiggins scored 20 points to become the first ever PM West boy to score 1,000 career points.

With the win, and Pleasant Valley beating Stroudsburg, the Panthers clinched the No. 1 seed in the Mountain Valley Conference playoffs. 

The Panthers will now host the semis this Tuesday night at 7pm where they will take on the four-seed Lehighton.

PM West 88, PM East 40

PM WEST (88)

I. Wiggins 4 0-0 8, Archer 0 0-0 0, Cooper 0 2-2 2, Brathwaite 3 1-2 9, Howard 0 0-0 0, Simon 6 0-0 12, J. Wiggins 6 7-8 20, Singh 9 2-2 27, Field 3 0-0 6, Hardy 1 0-0 2, Nurse 0 0-0 0, Jackson 1 0-0 2. Totals — 33 12-14 88.

PM EAST (40)

Sarajian 0 0-0 0, Yarosh 2 3-5 8, Carter 1 1-2 3, Leonard 1 0-0 3, Steckel 2 0-1 4, Woody 0 0-0 0, Hudson 2 1-3 5, Comas 1 0-2 2, Burgos 2 1-2 5, D. Wiggins 0 0-0 0, Lake 1 0-0 2, Malcolm 1 0-0 3, Lamar 1 0-0 2, Forbes 1 1-2 3. Totals — 15 7-17 40.

PM West 20 32 25 11 ­— 88

PM East 11 14 8 7 — 40

3-point goals — PMW 10 (Singh 7, Brathwaite 2, J. Wiggins); PME 3 (Malcolm, Leonard, Yarosh).

Records — PMW 17-4, 10-2 MVC; PME 1-19, 0-12.


BUSHKILL — Pocono Mountain West is playing some of its best basketball at the right time and Brad Pensyl thinks the Panthers can play better.

Joe Wiggins scored 27 points and Pocono West's defense was in control throughout of its 79-57 victory over East Stroudsburg North in Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball Thursday.

The victory keeps alive the chance that the Panthers (16-4, 9-2 MVC) could still be the top seed in next week's conference playoffs. Stroudsburg would have to lose at Pleasant Valley and West would have to win at Pocono Mountain East — both games are at 7 p.m. tonight — for that to happen.

What really matters most is the blistering run the Panthers are currently on.

PM West has won eight games in a row and been dominant at both ends of the floor. The Panthers are averaging 72.8 points per game over that stretch and allowing just 52 ppg. On Thursday, Pocono West had only seven turnovers, went 13-for-16 at the free throw line and registered assists on 14 of its 30 baskets, and Pensyl thinks the Panthers can still play better.

"Do I think we can play better than we did (Thursday)? Yes, I do," said Pensyl, who is in his 12th year at PM West after spending the first 13 years of his coaching career at Pocono Mountain. "I think we can do a lot of things better, but that doesn't mean we're going to win the next game by 23 points or 24. There are still some things we don't do real well right now if we want to win championships."

The Panthers have done plenty of that over the past nine years.

West has won three straight MVC titles and six of the past nine. The Panthers captured their first District 11 Class AAAA championship in 2012-13, which put them in the PIAA playoffs for a second time since 2008. That's where the Panthers aspire to be again this season.

"We want to go into districts and not get whacked out early and we want to advance and hopefully go to the state playoffs," Pensyl said.

More performances like the one they had against the Timberwolves (16-5, 8-3), who won the season's first match 59-57 in overtime at West on Dec. 19, will certainly help.

The Panthers were in control from the opening minute, running out to a 21-12 lead after one quarter and 49-30 lead by halftime. Joe Wiggins, Monroe County's leading scorer coming into the game, scored 19 of his 27 points in the opening 16 minutes.

"I think we came out and played really hard," said Wiggins, who is now just 18 points short of becoming the first male to score 1,000 career points since West opened in 2002. "That was our objective. We felt like we owed them one from the last time and I think we did a good job coming out strong."

The strong start was helped by Lance Singh's 3-point shooting.

Just a freshman, Singh hit three of his five 3s in the game in the first half. Singh, who finished with 17 points, has scored in double figures and has hit 20 of his 42 3s on the season in West's last seven games.

"He's a piece we needed," Pensyl said. "I needed a guy who could extend defenses a little bit and back off of Joey (Wiggins). Lance is a very good shooter and he's only going to get better. He's getting good looks and when he has his feet set he's a really good shooter."

ES North never got closer than 15 points in the second half.

Samar Drakeford and Will Quiles scored from in close to cut the deficit to 49-34 in the opening minute of the third quarter, but West scored eight of the next 11 points to push the lead to 20 with 5:02 left.

The Panthers maintained that lead over the final 13 minutes thanks in large part to how well they took care of the basketball. Only two of West's seven turnovers came in the final 16 minutes and the Panthers committed none in the fourth quarter.

"What we're doing well right now is not turning the ball over a lot," Pensyl said. "In the last four or five games we've really taken care of the ball and that's a testament to our guards. I have a point guard (Isaiah Wiggins) who is a freshman and Royce Brathwaite has done a nice job for us off the bench.

"When you're not throwing the ball away a whole lot you can win games, but when you're throwing it all over the gym and not rebounding you're not going to win."

PM West 79, ES North 57

PM WEST (79)

Cooper 6 0-0 12, I. Wiggins 2 2-2 6, J. Wiggins 11 5-6 27, Singh 6 0-0 17, Field 1 1-2 3, Acher 1 0-0 2, Brathwaite 2 5-6 9, Howard 0 0-0 0, Hardy 0 0-0 0, Simon 1 0-0 2. Totals — 30 13-16 79.


D. Quiles 1 2-3 5, W. Quiles 1 1-2 3, Battle 5 4-8 14, Drakeford 4 1-2 10, Mangassoubba 3 3-4 9, Kirton 4 2-3 10, Cartenga 1 0-1 2, Turpin 0 0-0 0, Graham 1 0-1 2, Kussiappoah 0 0-0 0. Totals — 20 13-24 57.

PM West 21 28 16 14 ­— 79

ES North 12 18 17 10 — 57

3-point goals — PMW 5 (Singh 5); ESN 2 (D. Quiles, Drakeford). Rebounds — PMW 34 (Archer 10); ESN 32 (Mangassoubba 9). Assists — PMW 14 (Singh 4); ESN 5 (W. Quiles 3). Steals — PMW 14 (J. Wiggins 4); ESN 3 (D. Quiles, W. Quiles, Drakeford). Blocks — PMW 0; ESN 3 (Battle 2). Turnovers — PMW 7; ESN 17.

Records — PM West 16-4, 9-2 MVC; ES North 16-5, 8-3.

JV score — PM West, 84-48.


PM West 85, Lehighton 48

POCONO SUMMIT — Joe Wiggins scored 25 points and Lance Singh added 18 as Pocono Mountain West beat Lehighton 85-48 on Tuesday night in MVC boys basketball.

PM West 85, Lehighton 48


Rossino 5 1-2 12, James 1 0-0 2, Crum 2 0-0 5, Williams 0 0-0 0, McCandless 1 3-6 5, Cordova 0 0-0 0, Ruzikou 0 0-0 0, Knappenberger 3 0-0 8, Mele 5 2-2 12. Totals — 19 6-10 48.

PM WEST (85)

Wiggins 3 0-0 7, Archer 1 0-0 2, Cooper 5 1-4 11, Brathwaite 3 1-2 9, Howard 1 0-0 2, Simon 1 1-4 3, J. Wiggins 11 0-0 25, Singh 7 0-0 18, Hardy 2 0-0 4. Totals — 35 5-12 85.

Lehighton 12 13 14 9 ­— 48

PM West 21 20 23 21 — 85

3-point goals — LEH 4 (Knappenberger 2, Rossino, Crum); PMW 10 (I. Wiggins, Brathwaite 2, J. Wiggins 3, Singh 4).


Panthers run by Whitehall

February 02, 2014

POCONO SUMMIT — Joe Wiggins (19 points), Lance Singh (14) and Sean Cooper (10) all scored in double figures to help Pocono Mountain West pick up a 63-53 victory over Whitehall in non-conference boys basketball Saturday.

PM West 63, Whitehall 53


Rissmiller 1 0-0 2, Mitchell 1 2-3 4, Rex 6 0-0 12, Keglovits 6 0-0 12, Radocha 3 0-0 7, Myers 4 3-4 11, Buskirk 2 2-2 7, Melosky 4 0-0 8, Burkley 0 0-0 0, McGinley 1 0-0 2, Esquilin 0 0-0 0, Diokmedjian 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 7-9 53.

PM WEST (63)

I. Wiggins 2 0-0 4, Archer 1 0-0 3, Cooper 4 1-2 10, Brathwaite 2 1-2 7, Simon 0 0-0 0, J. Wiggins 8 2-3 19, Lance Singh 5 2-2 14, Field 3 0-0 6. Totals — 25 6-9 63.

Whitehall 14 11 14 14 ­— 53

PM West 16 12 21 14 — 63

3-point goals — W 2 (Myers, Radocha); PMW 7 (J. Wiggins, Brathwaite 2, Archer, Cooper, Singh 2).

Records — Whitehall 12-9; PM West 14-4.

4 players hit double-figures in Freedom win

BETHLEHEM - For the second game straight the Panthers displayed the balanced scoring they will need to make a post season run. Senior guard Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 23 points while freshman Lance Singh had 12 points while starting his second consecutive game. Also chipping in for West were seniors Sean Cooper and Sammod Field, each with 11 points.

The Panthers are now 12-4 (6-2 MVC) with six games left to play.

The remaining schedule includes:

Friday 1/31 @ Pleasant Valley (MVC)
Saturday 2/1  home vs. Whitehall
Tuesday 2/4 home vs. Lehighton (MVC)
Wednesday 2/5 @ East Stroudsburg North (MVC)
Friday 2/7 @ PM East (MVC)
Saturday 2/8 home vs. Liberty


PM West 85, Dieruff 50

POCONO SUMMIT - West put four players in double-figures as they ran past Dieruff tonight by the score of 82-50. Senior Joe Wiggins, the Lehigh Valley area's top scorer, scored a game-high 29 pts for the Panthers in the win. Following Joe was his little brother, freshman Isaiah Wiggins adding 15 points. Fellow freshman Lance Singh chipped in 13 points and senior Sean Cooper had 12 points.

The Panthers play their first road game in five games when they travel to Bethlehem on Wednesday to take on Freedom High School.


PM West 75, East Stroudsburg South 36

POCONO SUMMIT - Freshman Lance Singh scored a game-high 19 points and fellow frosh Isaiah Wiggins added 14 points of his own to help pace the Panthers past the Cavaliers in Mountain Valley Conference play on Friday night by the score of 75-36.

West is now 10-4 (6-2 MVC) heading into a busy week where they will play 4 games in 6 days.


PM West 73, Northampton 59

POCONO SUMMIT — Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 26 points and Isaiah Wiggins added 16 points as Pocono Mountain West turned a one-point lead at halftime into a 73-59 victory over Northampton in non-conference action Saturday.

PM West 73, Northampton 59


Nicholas 1 0-0 3, Basem 1 2-2 5, Tyler 0 0-0 0, Garrett 2 1-2 5, Piefka 8 5-10 21, Hunsberger 1 0-0 3, Schaefeer 0 0-0 0, Cook 0 5-6 5, Hudock 2 5-6 9, McNeal 4 0-0 8. Totals — 19 18-26 59.

PM WEST (73)

I. Wiggins 6 2-2 16, Archer 0 0-0 0, Cooper 6 2-2 14, Brathwaite 1 0-2 2, Simon 0 0-0 0, J. Wiggins 10 5-6 26, Singh 2 1-2 6, Field 1 3-8 5, Hardy 1 1-2 4. Totals — 27 14-24 73.

Northampton 17 9 12 21 ­— 59

PM West 16 11 21 25 — 73

3-point goals — N 3 (Nicholas, Basem, Hunsberger); PMW 5 (I. Wiggins 2, J. Wiggins, Singh, Hardy).

Records — PM West 9-4.


Mounties finish strong, beat PM West 61-58  

By: Joe Miegoc of The Pocono Record

POCONO SUMMIT — John Cromartie showed why every minute every Stroudsburg player plays is of vital importance if the Mounties want to win on a nightly basis.

Cromartie came up with two huge steals in the final minute, the first leading to Lamar Gordon's three-point play that gave Stroudsburg the lead, and Dan Cuevas had a double-double and four blocked shots in the Mounties' 61-58 victory over Pocono Mountain West in Mountain Valley Conference boys basketball Friday.

The Panthers (8-4, 5-2 MVC), who had just taken their first lead of the night at 58-57 when Royce Brathwaite went 1-for-2 at the foul line, had the ball with under a minute to go. That's when Cromartie made his first steal, swiping the ball from a Pocono West player along the sideline with 46 seconds left that eventually led to Gordon's layup and free throw.

Cromartie wasn't done with his defensive heroics, getting another steal that forced the Panthers to foul him. The senior sank the first free throw and missed the second, but Joe Wiggins' 3-pointer was long and the Mounties had the victory.

"Honestly, it's just effort," Cromartie said. "Every time I get off the bench or my teammates come in off the bench you want to go out there and play with full effort, do what we have to do on the court and contribute to help the team win."

The Mounties (6-6, 4-1) have been doing a lot of winning lately.

Stroudsburg struggled out of the gate, dropping its first three games and four of its first five, but more consistent performances throughout the lineup has helped get the Mounties back on track. Friday's victory over the three-time defending MVC champion Panthers was Stroudsburg's fifth in seven games as it goes into today's game at first-place East Stroudsburg North.

A big reason why is that every player — from leading scorer Cuevas (18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks Friday), to third-year starter Jacob Battle (16 points, six rebounds and three steals) to Cromartie — has given veteran coach Shawn Thornton just what he needs in the minutes they're on the court.

"That's really important for us," said Thornton, who just picked up his 300th career coaching victory against Pleasant Valley on Tuesday. "We've had games where we've played 10 or 11 guys and we do that because we believe in them. We believe that each of them can give us big contributions."

Cuevas gave another consistent performance like he's done all season for the Mounties.

The 6-foot-6 junior, who has only been at Stroudsburg since November 2012, had eight points in the first half as Stroudsburg owned a 32-29 lead at the break. Cuevas netted 10 points in the second half as the Mounties held off several charges from the Panthers.

"In addition to being our most consistent player, he's also our most improved player," Thornton said. "He's a guy who has truly bought in and believes and he's flourished. He believes in his teammates and he believes in us. He has worked incredibly hard and we're seeing the fruits of that hard work."

Pocono West worked plenty hard to stay within striking distance all game.

The Panthers trailed by nine points on three different occasions in the third quarter, but scored eight straight points before Evan Choy's 3 at the buzzer gave Stroudsburg a 49-45 lead with one quarter left.

PM West tied the game three different times in the fourth, but every time Stroudsburg was able to answer with a basket to retake the lead. That changed on Brathwaite's free throw, but Cromartie's steals and the three-point play by Gordon, who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, sealed another victory for the Mounties.

"We just stayed confident," Cuevas said. "Sometimes you might fall behind, but part of being a good team is being behind and being able to come back. That's what we did at the end."

Stroudsburg 61, PM West 58


Gordon 6 1-1 13, E. Choy 2 0-0 6, Lopez 3 1-2 7, Battle 6 3-5 16, Cuevas 8 2-3 18, Cromartie 0 1-2 1, Bermudez 0 0-0 0, Odhiambo 0 0-0 0. Totals — 25 8-13 61.

PM WEST (58)

Archer 1 0-0 2, I. Wiggins 5 2-3 12, Cooper 3 0-0 7, J. Wiggins 7 3-5 17, Hardy 2 0-0 5, Brathwaite 2 4-5 8, Singh 1 1-1 3, Simon 1 1-2 4, Field 0 0-0 0. Totals — 22 11-16 58.

Stroudsburg 18 14 17 12 — 61

PM West 13 16 16 13 — 58

3-point goals — S 3 (E. Choy 2, Battle); PMW 3 (Cooper, Hardy, Singh). Rebounds — S 38 (Cuevas 12); PMW 41 (J. Wiggins 9). Assists — S 15 (Lopez 6); PMW 10 (Brathwaite 4). Steals — S 6 (Battle 3); PMW 11 (Archer 3). Blocks — S 7 (Cuevas 4); PMW 3 (Archer, J. Wiggins, Singh). Turnovers — S 16; PMW 11.

Records — Stroudsburg 6-6, 4-1 MVC; PM West 8-4, 5-2.

JV score — PM West, 55-38.


Panthers use big third-quarter to run by rival

Pocono Summit — Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 27 points in Pocono Mountain West's 68-51 win over Pocono Mountain East in MVC boys basketball Tuesday.

The Panthers now hold an 18-11 edge all-time vs. the Cardinals.

PM West 68, PM East 51

PM EAST (51)

Hardman 5 1-1 11, Sarijian 0 0-0 0, Yarosh 1 0-0 3, Carter 3 1-2 7, N. Wiggins 2 0-0 4, Steckel 4 2-6 12, Imoan 0 0-0 0, J. Wiggins 2 2-3 6, Comas 3 0-2 8. Totals — 20 6-15 51.

PM WEST (68)

I. Wiggins 4 2-4 11, Archer 0 0-0 0, Cooper 5 1-2 11, Brathwaite 2 1-2 5, J. Wiggins 8 10-11 27, Singh 3 0-0 7, Field 0 0-2 0, Hardy 2 2-2 7. Totals — 24 16-23 68.

PM East 17 6 13 15 ­— 51

PM West 11 15 23 19 — 68

3-point goals — PME 5 (Comas 2, Woody 2, Yarosh); PMW 4 (Hardy, Singh, J. Wiggins, I. Wiggins).

Records — PMW 8-3, 5-1; PME 1-9, 0-3


Freshman Williams gets putback at the buzzer to give Allen a thrilling win over Pocono West in 3 OTs

Joe Wiggins and Isaiah Palmer put on great shows, but Talek Williams gets the game-winner.


  By: Keith Groller of The Morning Call

  Allen and Pocono Mountain West will be in the same league next year, but the way boys basketball will be
  configured the Canaries and Panthers might not play one another.

  And that would be a shame. Especially for the people who sell aspirin and stuff for an upset stomach.

  The two prominent programs always hook up in memorable, down-to-the-wire games, but they might have
  outdone themselves on Monday night in an instant classic at Sewards Gym.

  Highly touted Canaries freshman Talek Williams may have begun his legacy with a putback at the buzzer
  of the third overtime period to give Allen a memorable 84-82 win over the Panthers in one of the special
  games of this still developing season.

  Pocono West's Joe Wiggins showed the Lehigh Valley corridor of District 11 why he's definite all-area
  material with a spectacular 34-point show.

  Isaiah Palmer countered for the Canaries with 31 points and 19 rebounds.

  There were other stars on both sides like Panthers freshman Lance Singh, who scored 15 points, and the
  Canaries' Kobee Texter, who tallied 12 to go along with eight rebounds.

  But it came down to Williams rebounding the miss of a Daiyon Barnett shot just when a fourth overtime
  period seemed imminent.

"I was nervous, but I boxed out and got room to get off a shot," Williams said. "I knew there was only a couple of seconds left. I did it for my team."

Williams had a chance to win it for Allen at the end of the first overtime, but missed.

Allen also had a chance to prevail at the close of the second OT, but Texter had his shot blocked.

Pocono West (7-3) squandered several four-point leads in the final period of regulation, but also refused to go away after trailing in both the first and second OTs and 82-78 with 42 seconds left in the third OT.

"This was a great game," Panthers coach Brad Pensyl said. "I think they had it won about five different times and we had it won five different times. That was our fourth overtime game of the year and we've only won one of them. So, we've got some work to do on the end-of-the-game stuff."

Allen (7-3) could feel the same way, but there will be no time to work on errors since the Canaries come right back to entertain Easton — fresh off its own double-overtime win over Parkland — on Tuesday night. It's part of a crazy five-games-in-six-days stretch for Allen.

"We didn't need to play an extra 12 minutes of basketball, not when we're playing five games this week … but guess what … we're playing an extra 12 minutes of basketball," Canaries coach Doug Snyder said.

Both teams were a little fatigued at night's end, but at least Allen didn't have an hour's ride to remember a tough loss like the Panthers had.

"If you look back at the history of this series, it's always a battle," Snyder said. "Whether we're up there or it's down here, it's always close. I don't know if we've had a game that didn't come down to single digits."

Snyder gave high praise to Wiggins, an elusive senior guard who continually got to the basket against his team.

"We could not stop him," Snyder said. "He's such an unbelievable player. He's not that tall, but he got to anywhere he wanted to get on the court. We tried to pinch him off and have our five guys be aware of him and he still kept getting to the rim."

Fortunately, Snyder got his own monster effort from Palmer, who was a force on the boards, from 3-point range and had a crowd-pleasing steal and slam dunk that put the small crowd on its feet in the third overtime.

"[Palmer] is an awesome player," Williams said.

"It was a great night, but the best thing was that we got the 'W'," Palmer, a senior center, said. "I want a challenge like this. It brings the best out of me and it brought the best out of our team. I thought we had the momentum when I had that dunk, but they kept coming back, too. They're a tough team."

Palmer predicted greatness for Williams, who also played in Monday's night JV game.

"He's working hard and hopefully he can get a starting spot," Palmer said. "He's on his way."

PMW routs Tribe

Saturday, January 11, 2014
mike feifel/times news Lehighton's Vince Mele (43) goes up with a shot as AJ Simon of Pocono Mountain West defends.  By ROD HECKMAN

  Pocono Mountain West presents matchup problems for many teams.

  On Friday night, it was Lehighton's turn.

  Blessed with quickness, depth and in-your-face defense, the Panthers are looking to once again challenge for
  the Mountain Valley Conference championship. And after cruising past the Indians 77-47, Rich Oertner is a

  "Pocono West hustles more than any team I know," said the Lehighton head coach. "They hustle like crazy and
  they understand the game ... Their guards are just quicker than our guards. We struggled handling the ball and
  you have to give Pocono credit for that.

  "Every guy also hits the boards for them. They just beat us in all phases of the game. If the matchups aren't there,
  you know you're in trouble before you even start."

  The Indians (6-4; 1-4) actually hung around at the start. With the Panthers missing from the perimeter early on,
  Lehighton used a couple driving shots from Tyler Crum and a three-pointer from Jordan Knappenberger to trail by
  just an 11-10 margin.


West, however, began to utilize the paint and its athleticism. Joe Wiggins hit from the inside three times, which also allowed the outside game to materialize. Three three-pointers near the end of the half pushed the visitors' lead to 37-25.

"We were impatient early," said Pocono mentor Brad Pensyl. "It was one pass and then shoot. We have shot the ball better the last few games but that's not our game. I called a timeout and then we started to move the ball a little bit better. We became more patient at the offensive end, got better shots and converted.

"In the second half we gave them some problems, obviously, but that's just the way we play defense. We play man-to-man and we pressure people. The ability to get into transition and make some baskets was key."

West's advantage ballooned to 25 points less than four minutes into the third quarter. With Isaiah Wiggins providing tremendous pressure on Lehighton's point guards, the Panthers (7-2; 4-1) forced five turnovers and went on a 15-2 run. The Indians could never get the deficit under 20 and fell for the second straight game.

"In the first half, if we would have shot better we would have been right there," said Oertner. "In the second half they just ran it down our throats. But the key to them is (Joe) Wiggins. He's tough. He's only about 5-10 but he plays like he's 6-6. They're just quicker than us, and that's usually what keeps us in games."

J. Wiggins finished with a game-high 23 points while Sean Cooper added 16 points. Cooper also added 11 rebounds as West held a lopsided 43-27 rebounding edge.

For Lehighton, Knappenberger had 16 points and Vince Mele tallied nine.

In the JV game, Pocono Mountain West came back to gain a 51-39 win. For Lehighton, Tom Ruzicka scored a game-high 15 points.


I. Wiggins 4-0-0-8, Archer 3-4-4-11, Cooper 7-1-1-16, Brathwaite 2-2-2-7, Howard 0-0-0-0, Simon 1-0-0-2, J. Wiggins 10-3-4-23, Singh 2-0-0-4, Field 0-0-0-0, Hardy 3-0-0-6. TOTALS: 32-10-11-77.


Rossino 0-2-4-2, Farano 2-6-6-10, Crum 3-0-1-7, Zwetolitz 0-0-0-0, Williams 0-0-0-0, K. Knappenberger 0-0-0-0, Ruzicka 0-0-0-0, Chambers 1-0-0-2, J. Knappenberger 5-2-2-16, Mele 3-3-5-9, Greene 0-1-2-1. TOTALS: 14-14-20-47.

PM West 11 26 22 18 - 77

Lehighton 10 15 11 11 - 47

Three-pointers: PM West - Archer 1, Cooper 1, Brathwaite 1; Lehighton - J. Knappenberger 4, Crum 1.


5 players score in double-figures as the Panthers run by Cavs

Pocono Mountain West used their man-to-man pressure and uptempo game to run past East Stroudsburg South last night by the score of 79-47. Five players scored in double-figures for the Panthers - senior guard Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 21 points, freshman guard Lance Singh dropped 14 points, senior guard Jordan Hardy chipped in 11 points, while freshman guard Isaiah Wiggins and senior forward Sean Cooper both added 10 points.

With the win the Panthers bump their overall record to 6-2 (3-1 MVC).

West will travel to Lehighton on Friday for their next MVC match up.


West outlasts Pleasant Valley in MVC action

PM West 54, Pleasant Valley 48

POCONO SUMMIT — Joe Wiggins scored 18 points and Lance Singh added 13 to lead the Panthers to a 54-48 victory over Pleasant Valley in MVC boys basketball on Saturday.

PM West 54, Pleasant Valley 48

PV (48)

Brown 3 1-2 7, Mikulski 1 1-2 3, Nevarez 2 0-0 5, Robinson 2 0-0 5, Hosier 0 0-0 0, Wisser 0 0-0 0, Deegan 0 0-0 0, Pazienza 3 4-5 10, Sharpe 5 2-4 13, Raughley 0 0-0 0, Neubert 2 1-4 5. Totals — 18 9-18 48.

PM WEST (54)

Wiggins 0 0-0 0, Cooper 3 0-0 6, Brathweite 0 4-5 4, Howard 0 0-0 0, Simon 0 1-2 1, Mayo 1 0-2 2, J. Wiggins 4 9-10 18, Singh 5 0-0 13, Hardy 2 5-8 10. Totals — 15 19-27 54.

PV 10 10 14 14 ­— 48

PM West 15 11 14 14 — 54

3-point goals — PV 3 (Nevarez, Robinson, Sharpe; PMW 5 (Singh 3, J. Wiggins, Hardy.

Records — Pleasant Valley 2-3; PM West 4-2.



Pensyl hits a milestone

By: Joe Miegoc of The Pocono Record

Pocono Mountain West lost two of its first three games this season in overtime, but have rebounded nicely.

The Panthers (5-2) gave head coach Brad Pensyl his 450th victory when they beat North Pocono 87-69 to win the North Pocono Christmas tournament. West beat Simon Gratz 69-66 in overtime in the semifinals.

Joe Wiggins has been outstanding, averaging 22.9 ppg. Wiggins, who came into the season with 522 points, had a career-high 28 points against North Pocono. Jordan Hardy (10 ppg), North Pocono MVP Lance Singh (9.3 ppg) and Isaiah Wiggins (8.6 ppg) have played well, too.


Panthers take North Pocono X-mas Tournament championship
4 Panthers score in double-figures to take down Trojans


  MOSCOW - Four Panthers scored in double-figures as West beat the host Trojans 87-69 on      
  Saturday night to capture the North Pocono Christmas Tournament championship.

  Leading the way for the Panthers was senior guard Joe Wiggins who totaled a career and game-
  high 28 points. Freshman Lance Singh followed a strong performance in the tournament opener
  with a career-high 20 points. Meanwhile Senior Jordan Hardy had 16 points and fellow senior Sean
  Cooper added 10 points.

  Wiggins and Hardy were named to the all-tournament team.

  Lance Singh was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament - he totaled 38 points in two
  games and hit 6 three-pointers for the Panthers.
  West's next game will be Friday, January 3rd at Pleasant Valley in a big Mountain Valley
  Conference match up.


West outlasts Philly's Simon Gratz in opener of North Pocono X-mas Tourney

MOSCOW — Freshman Lance Singh hit four of Pocono West's 11 3-pointers as the Panthers beat Simon Gratz 69-66 in overtime Friday night in boys basketball.

Singh finished with a team-high 18 points, while Joe Wiggins had 16 and Jordan Hardy scored 13.

PM West 69, Simon Gratz 66

PM WEST (69)

Wiggins 2 0-0 4, Archer 1 0-1 2, Cooper 2 0-1 6, Brathwaite 2 5-6 10, Howard 0 0-2 0, Simon 0 0-2 0, Moyo 0 0-0 0, J. Wiggins 4 7-10 16, Singh 7 0-0 18, Hardy 4 2-4 13. Totals — 22 14-26 69.


Tyndale 3 4-6 10, Dinkins 1 0-0 2, Tahiv 3 1-5 8, Leon 2 1-2 5, Pecer 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 3-5 11, White 7 2-4 14, Barnet 1 1-2 3, Moore 4 3-4 11. Totals — 24 15-28 66.

PM West 13 18 12 17-9 ­— 69

Simon Gratz 16 17 13 14-6 — 66

3-point goals — PMW 11 (Cooper 2, Brathwaite, Wiggins, Singh 4, Hardy 3); SG 3 (Whatson, Pecer 2).

Records — PM West 3-2.


Panthers bounce back against Nazareth

12/21/2013 - After a disappointing loss on Thursday which saw West struggle offensively, the Panthers made some adjustments for an 80-72 win over Nazareth on Saturday afternoon.

Senior Joe Wiggins led the way in the scoring department again with a game-high 22 points. Freshman Isaiah Wiggins added 14 point of his own and fellow freshman Lance Singh chipped in with 9 points including a big 3-pointer down the stretch.

The Panthers' next game is against Simon Gratz out of Philadelphia in the North Pocono X-mas Tournament at 3:30 on Friday.


North beats West for first time in 12 years

12/19/2013 - For the first time since Pocono Mountain West opened it's doors in 2002, East Stroudsburg North defeated the Panthers in MVC action. Senior Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 25 point but the Panthers were unable to get another scorer into double digits and struggled offensively.

Isaiah Battle scored a team-high 19 points for the Timberwolves.

West's next game is Saturday against the LVC's Nazareth Blue Eagles. Game time is 2pm.


West upsets Stroudsburg in MVC opener

12/13/13 - Three players scored in double-figures for the Panthers as they upset preseason MVC favorite Stroudsburg, 83-74, Friday night. Senior Joe Wiggins scored a career and game-high 27 points, freshman Isaiah Wiggins added 19 points, and senior Jordan Hardy chipped in 16 points in the victory. Hardy also took on the task of guarding Stroudsburg's best player, Jacob Battle, limiting him offensively.

Next up for the Panthers is O'Neil Holder and the East Stroudsburg South Cavaliers. The MVC matchup is at South on Tuesday night.


Easton drops West in OT for second straight year

12/11/13 - After West built a ten-point lead in the second quarter, Easton closed out the half on an 8-0 run and was down 31-29 at halftime. The two teams traded leads through the third  quarter and  at the end of the fourth quarter found themselves tied 55-55 with 8 ticks left. The Panthers had possession but quickly turned the ball over and Easton called a time out to draw up a play for the potential game-winner. On the inbounds Easton's point guard penetrated to the bucket only to have the game-winning lay-up rim out.

In overtime, there was a lid on the basket for the Panthers. Easton outscored West 11-6 in the final stanza and won the game 66-61.

For the Panthers senior Joe Wiggins scored a game-high 24 points, pulled down 6 boards, and had 3 steals. Senior Royce Braithwaite added 13 points.

For the Rovers Shane Simpson scored a team-high 13 points.

The loss was the Panthers first on the season (0-1) and was Easton's first win (1-1).

West will open MVC play this Friday when the travel to Stroudsburg High School.


Mounties Have Enough to Win Boys Title

December 06, 2013
Pocono Record

"Never. This is a first. I need these kids."

That was veteran Pocono Mountain West boys basketball coach Brad Pensyl's email response when asked about the last time he had to depend on freshmen to play a key role on one of his teams.

Never is over.

If West hopes to win a seventh Mountain Valley Conference title since 2005, and the final one before the conference merges with the Lehigh Valley Conference next school year, freshmen guards Lance Singh and Isaiah Wiggins and forward A.J. Simon will be right in the middle of it. Pocono West's middle school teams have been very good and the future is now for the Panthers, who usually have their younger players gain experience on the jayvee level before exposing them to the rigors and pressures of the varsity.

The Panthers won't be scraping to get by, though. Far from it actually.

All-MVC and Pocono Record All-Area first-team guard Joe Wiggins is back and so is starter Jordan Hardy. Wiggins might be the most dynamic player in the MVC, a slashing guard who can score from the perimeter, too. Hardy is a fantastic athlete who holds the single-season school records for receiving yards and touchdowns. Defense is always a staple of Pensyl's teams and this season will be no different.

There will be plenty of challengers for PM West's throne.

Stroudsburg will be at the head of the list. The Mounties return senior guard Jacob Battle, the best perimeter shooter in the MVC and one of the tops in District 11. Battle uses his silky smooth jumper perfectly, forcing defenders to play up on him so he can use his quickness to get to the goal where he is a very good finisher. Stroudsburg must replace David Clowney, perhaps the MVC's best athlete last season, but junior center Danny Cuevas showed good promise last year and would form a terrific inside-outside duo with Battle.

Senior center Marquis Brown is back to give Pleasant Valley the best interior player in the conference. Not only is Brown big, but he has soft hands and good athleticism that allows him to finish strong around the basket. Junior guard Bryan Sharpe also returns and Pleasant Valley will need him to step up his game to take the pressure off Brown.

O'Neil Holder is the toughest matchup by far in the MVC. Play him up close and the East Stroudsburg South senior will blow by a defender. Give him room and he'll rise up and knock down the 3. He also has the size and strength to rebound. This year will be a challenge for Holder, though, after the Cavs lost four starters. Teams will come in focused on slowing down Holder, so South will need someone to step up and ease the burden on the talented wing.

East Stroudsburg North always has fantastic athletes and this season is no different. The Timberwolves had a tough season last year, but appear ready to turn that around with the likes of senior guard Will Quiles returning. North has gotten off to show starts in the past, so starting fast will be imperative for the T-Wolves.

No team should be happier to turn the page than Pocono Mountain East. After a long stretch of success, the Cardinals went just 1-20 in 2012-13. Junior guard Jake Steckel, one of the top young players in the MVC, returns and second-year coach Pete Dyson listed depth of available scorers as one of East's strengths.

This might be the year Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg returns to the district playoffs. The Spartans haven't qualified for the postseason since 2010, but the return of junior forward Olsbey Mercer has Notre Dame primed to make a playoff push. Mercer, Monroe County's leading scorer at 16.7 points per game last season, can score inside and out (he hit 23 3s last year) for the Spartans, who also get senior forward Robert Farley (8.8 ppg) and sophomore guard Mike Steptuk (8.3 ppg) back.

So who wins the final MVC championship?

If you ask me now, I like Stroudsburg. Battle is such a tough player to defend because if you take away the 3 he can put the ball on the floor. Cuevas showed flashes last year, and if he takes a step or two forward this year, the Mounties are going to be tough.

I like PV, but the Bears need someone to take the pressure off Brown.

North doesn't have a dominant player — not that one is needed to win a conference title but it sure helps.

Holder is a fantastic talent, but I know nothing about the Cavs around him.

And West, well all the Panthers have done is win six MVC titles since 2005 and captured the District 11 Class AAAA championship in 2012, but freshmen are freshmen for a reason. I'll never count out West and Pensyl, though, and neither should you.


Pocono Mountain West will be hard-pressed to garner a four-peat in the MVC
Pocono Mountain West is going for a four-peat, but other teams have more experience.

By: Keith Groller of The Morning Call

Mountain West has established itself as the Mountain Valley Conference's premier boys basketball program over the past nine years with six championships in that span, including the last three in a row.

But as the MVC is set to begin its final season before merging with the Lehigh Valley Conference, the Panthers' dominance over the past three years when they were 34-2 in league play may be at an end.

"Our league is going to be pretty balanced," Pocono West coach Brad Pensyl said. "East Stroudsburg North has everybody back, Stroudsburg has a lot back and so does Lehighton. Pleasant Valley has two good starters returning and East Stroudsburg South probably has the best player in the league back in O'Neil Holder. I mean that kid can play.

"Our league has been pretty competitive, but there were a few years there where you could take a couple of nights off. That's not the case this year."

Pensyl has a talented player returning with Joe Wiggins, and the Panthers always impress with their relentless style and athleticism.

However, the talent gap has disappated and West will be relying on three incoming freshmen in its bid for a four-peat.

"I really don't know where we fit because there are teams that are a lot more experienced than we are," Pensyl said. "We're going to rely on our freshmen. It's a very talented group coming in."

Looking at the end of the MVC era, Pensyl said he is going to miss the "smallness" of the seven-team league.

"For the most part, we've gotten along pretty well and have had few problems," he said.

On the other hand, he's also looking forward to the new, 18-team league which will combine the remaining six MVC teams (after the departure of Lehighton) with the 12 LVC teams.

"We play a lot of those teams anyway," Pensyl said. "So there won't be much difference. It's going to be good."

In fact, this year Pocono West will play eight LVC members on its nonleague schedule. Next year, when it will be in the same league with the LVC, there will only be six Lehigh Valley teams on the Panthers' schedule because Pocono West will remain in the same division with its Monroe County colleagues and play six cross-division games with other current LVC members.

Here's a look at this year's MVC:


•Coach: Kevin Kennedy (10th season, 87-125)

•Last year: 7-15, 5-7 MVC (fifth)

•Key losses: Malik Mills.

•Returnees: G Will Quiles (5-9 Sr. G) 8 ppg; Malique John (6-0 Sr. G/F) 8 ppg; Isaiah Battle (6-2 Sr. F) 11 ppg; Will Thompson (6-3 Sr. F); Shaimell Byrd (5-8 Sr. G); Samar Drakeford (5-10 Sr. G); David Quiles (5-10 Jr. G), Seiku Mangasoubba (6-4 Sr. C)

•Newcomers: Melquan Kirton (5-10 Jr. G) Justin Kussiahpoh (6-3 Jr. F)

•Outlook: The Timberwolves won four of their last five games last season and just missed qualifying for districts. Kennedy said the team gained experience a year ago. With all of its starters back, North figures to be much more competitive and make a run at the league and district playoffs.


•Coach: Shawn Munford (second season).

•Last year: 11-13, 7-5 MVC (tied for third).

•Postseason: Lost to Pocono Mountain West 56-44 in MVC semis and lost to Parkland 56-42 in the Dist. 11 4A tournament pigtail round.

•Key losses: Dominique Quick, Khalil Wickham, Kingsley Amoakohene.

•Returnees: O'Neil Holder (6-4 Sr. F) 15.6 ppg; Kyle Kelly (6-2 Sr. G), Phillip Stewart (6-0 Jr. F), Wayne Davy (6-5 So. C), Zee Roberson (6-0 Sr. G), Benjamin Nieves (5-7 Sr. G).

•Newcomers: Andre Jackson (6-0 Jr. G).

•Outlook: The Cavaliers graduated seven from last year's team, including four starters, so this qualifies as a rebuiding year. Munford feels he has one of the better players in the area returning in Holder, but the supporting cast will be new. "We'll try to overcome our inexperience and continue to improve throughout the year by playing hard, smart, and together," Munford said. He admits "with so many new players at the varsity level, we really don't know what we have yet, so it should be an interesting journey throughout the season."


•Coach: Rich Oertner (third season, 15-31; 176-130 including 10 seasons at Northern Lehigh).

•Last year: 12-12, 4-8 MVC (sixth).

•Postseason: Beat Southern Lehigh 50-46 in the first round of the District 11 3A tournament, lost to Pottsville 59-30 in quarterfinals.

•Key losses: Jacen Nalesnik.

•Returnees: Anthony Rossino (5-10 Sr. G) 8.6 ppg; James Farano (6-3, Sr. F) 8.6 ppg; Vince Mele (6-4, Sr. C) 5.4 ppg; Max McCandless (6-1 Sr. G) 1.6 ppg; Kris Knappenberger (6-2, Sr. F); Jordan Knappenberger (6-1, Jr. F) 8.3 ppg; Tyler Crum (6-1, Jr. G) 13.9 ppg; Tyler Williams (5-10, Jr. G); Tanner Zwetolitz (6-1, So. F).

•Newcomers: Tom Ruzicka (5-8, Jr. G).

•Outlook: After winning just five games over the previous four seasons, the Indians broke through last year with a 11-11 regular season and qualified for districts for the first time since 2007. Now, the challenge is to keep the momentum going. Oertner has four starters back, but injuries to Mele and Crum have slowed progress in the preseason. When healthy, the Indians figure to have enough scoring punch, but Oertner is concerned about the defense and the ability to close out games. As uplifting as last season was for the Indians, they still lost six games by 12 points or less and need to do a better job of finishing games.


•Coach: Ken Piontkowski (19th season, 220-231).

•Last year: 13-12, 7-5 (tied for third).

•Postseason: Defeated Stroudsburg 47-45, lost to Pocono Mountain West 50-45 in MVC tourney. Lost to Emmaus 55-45 in the first round of the District 11 4A tournament.

•Key losses: Devon Howard, Sekou Jones, Dan Hrbek.

•Returnees: Bryan Sharpe (6-1 Jr. G) 5.1 ppg; Marquis Brown (6-5 Sr. F) 12.3 ppg; Jarius Hosier (5-10 Sr. G); Lance Robinson (5-10 Sr. G); Dakota Neubert (6-3 Sr. F), Zach Deegan (5-10 Sr. G).

•Newcomers: Shai-Quan Aulder (5-11 Sr. G); Eric Mikulski (6-0 Jr. G), Pierce Roden (6-3 Sr. F); Nyeim Nevarez (5-11 Jr. G).

•Outlook: The Bears have 10 players that figure to contribute, so depth is a strength. They also have multiple players with playoff experience and return one of the MVC's top big men in Marquis Brown. However, for this to become more than a .500 team, PV will have to cut down on turnovers and shoot better than it did last year. Guards Mikulski and Sharpe need to shoot well from the outside to open things up inside for Brown, who needs to stay healthy for this team to thrive.


•Coach: Peter Dyson (second season).

•Last year: 1-20, 0-12 MVC (seventh).

•Key losses: Steven Randazzo, Elijah Tyndall, Brian Gonzalez.

•Returnees: Levert Comas (6-1 Sr. G); R.J. Sarajian (6-1 Sr. G); Jay Wiggins (6-2 Sr. G); V.J. Hardmon (5-9 Sr. G); Jake Steckel (6-2, Jr. G); Andrew Yarosh (5-8, Jr. G); G Stephen Carter (5-10, Jr. G).

•Newcomers: Nick Wiggins (6-1 Jr. G); Imoan Hudson (5-8 Jr. G); Mike Burgos (6-3, Jr. F); Isaiah Woody (6-3 Jr. F); Isaiah Moses (6-2 Sr. F), Sean Leonard (6-3, Jr. G)

•Outlook: It was a tough initial season for Dyson, but he has kept a very positive attitude as the Cardinals continue to rebuild their program with young talent. Consistency in effort, attitude and execution is key for this group. Dyson said: "If we limit our turnovers and hit open shots then we could surprise some teams considering our athleticism. We lack size and need everyone to play tough and large."


•Coach: Brad Pensyl (12th season at West, 25th season overall, 446-182)

•Last year: 20-5, 12-0 MVC (first).

•Postseason: Beat ES South 56-44 and Pleasant Valley 50-45 to win MVC title. Lost to Stroudsburg 69-59 in the District 11 4A quarterfinals.

•Key losses: Eric Vick 15.8, Darren Dixon; Leon Baptiste.

•Returnees: Joe Wiggins (5-9 Sr. G) 14.5 ppg; Jordan Hardy (6-0 Sr. G) 7.3 ppg; Sean Cooper (6-3 Sr. F); Jaran Mayo (6-5, Jr. C); Malachi Howard (6-2 Sr. F).

•Newcomers: Isaiah Wiggins (6-0 Fr. G); Lance Singh (6-0 Fr. F); A.J. Simon (6-1 Fr. G/F).

•Outlook: Wiggins and Hardy are returning starters, but Pensyl said he be relying heavily on the three freshman newcomers. "We're going to play the same way we've always played — uptempo on offense and man-to-man defense," Pensyl said. "If my freshmen kids are playing like juniors in the middle of January we're going to be fine. If they're still playing like freshmen in mid-January, then we're going to be in trouble." It's hard to imagine this proud program not being in the league tournament mix and also not qualifying for districts. In 24 years as a coach, Pensyl's team has never missed districts.


•Coach: Shawn Thornton (22nd season, 295-249)

•Last year: 14-13, 8-4 MVC (second).

•Postseason: Lost to Pleasant Valley in MVC semis. Beat Whitehall and Pocono Mountain West in District 11 4A tournament before losing to Freedom in semis and Liberty in the consolation game.

•Key losses: Cliff Bragg, Skyler Brandt, David Clowney, Kenny Alston, Chris Cayo.

•Returnees: Jacob Battle (6-0 Sr. G) 13.8 ppg; Danny Cuevas (6-5 Jr. C); Edwin Lopez (5-11 Jr. G); Chris Bermudez (5-9 Sr. G); Evan Choy (6-0 Sr, G); Lamar Gordon (6-1 Sr. F); Brian Thornton (6-1 Sr. F).

•Newcomers: John Cromartie (5-11 Sr. G/F); Ryan Brandt (6-2 Jr. F); Terrence Odhiambo (6-1 Jr. F); Freddie Ruiz (5-9 Jr. G).

•Outlook: Battle, who figures to be one of the league's and area's top players, leads a contingent that Thornton calls "One of the most talented teams I've had in several years." Thornton likes his team's depth and speed and says he has lots of interchangeable parts. He also believes that the kids are a little more together at the start of the season than they've been. The key may be rebounding and defense. Expect the Mounties to be in the league and district mix.


1., Stroudsburg

2., E.S. North

3., Pocono Mountain West

4., Pleasant Valley

5., E.S. South

6., Lehighton

7., Pocono Mountain East


(Since it became a 7-team league)

2002-03 -- Pleasant Valley

2003-04 -- Pocono Mt. East

2004-05 -- Pocono Mt. West

2005-06 -- Pocono Mt. East

2006-07 -- Pocono Mt. West

2007-08 -- Pocono Mt. West

2008-09 -- Stroudsburg

2009-10 -- Pocono Mt. East

2010-11 -- Pocono Mt. West

2011-12 -- Pocono Mt. West

2012-13 – Pocono Mt. West

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