Despite key losses, Warriors look to be in mix

By on December 6, 2017
Warwick senior Bryan Rottkamp (23) battles inside against Manheim Township during action last season.
Warwick senior Bryan Rottkamp (23) battles inside against Manheim Township during action last season.

Warwick senior Bryan Rottkamp (23) battles inside against Manheim Township during action last season.

In Chris Christensen’s second year as head coach of the Warwick boys basketball team, the Warriors showed solid improvement.

They doubled their win total from four in 2015-16 to eight during the 2016-17 season.

Except for a tough stretch — in which Warwick suffered four OT losses in six games at the end of the year — they could have been a playoff team.

To keep trending up this season, the Warriors (5-9 L-L, 8-14 overall) will need to overcome some key graduation losses, including their top-three scorers in Alex Lalovic (18.5 ppg), Tyler Trimarchi (12.4 ppg) and Ethan Price (8.8 ppg). That trio also combined for 116 three-pointers. Will Mobley and Kyle Weaver also departed.

“We’ll definitely miss them a bunch,” Christensen (12-33 overall, 7-23 L-L) said, “especially their energy and definitely some of their scoring ability.”

Warwick’s coach admits that patience will be a virtue in the early going this winter as his young players get some experience under their belt.

“Our goals are probably more one day at a time,” Christensen said, “and let’s focus on this game, let’s win this game, and then at the end, let’s see what we’ve got. Not that our guys don’t have goals of post-season, and I think it’s very possible for us to do that, but we’ve got to focus on a day-to-day basis of doing the right things to get to that point.”

Seniors Bryan Rottkamp (6-foot-1, 200) and Nate Martin (6-foot-5, 235)) will be two of Warwick’s leaders, having scored 5.5 ppg and 4.8 ppg last season, respectively.

Warwick 6-foot-5 senior center Nate Martin (right), shown here scoring against Lancaster Catholic last season, is a key returning player for the Warriors this winter.

Warwick 6-foot-5 senior center Nate Martin (right), shown here scoring against Lancaster Catholic last season, is a key returning player for the Warriors this winter.

Rottkamp’s biggest asset is his rebounding, tirelessly grabbing offensive boards and scoring on putbacks, but Christensen noted he also worked diligently on his shot in the off-season.

“(Bryan)’s been around, he’s started for two years now, so he’s been through it,” Christensen remarked. “We expect a lot out of him and he expects a lot out of himself. And he’s a leader on the floor. He does a lot of stuff that goes unnoticed by the average spectator. But he’s earned what he’s got coming. We’re going to need him a lot, so he’ll be playing a lot of minutes.”

Others like seniors Carter Forney (5-foot-11, 180) and Dylan Zoccolo (5-foot-11, 150), along with juniors Trysten George (6-foot-1, 160), Colby Martin (5-foot-11, 155) and Ryan Shirk (6-foot-2, 160), and others will find themselves in bigger roles this season.

The Warriors open the season this Friday, Dec. 8 at Octorara at 7:30 p.m.

“We have some guys stepping in that have had some success at the JV level, and some guys that probably didn’t get a lot of time this past year because of (last year’s seniors) that were so good,” Christensen said. “Then we have some real younger kids — some sophomores and freshmen — that I think are going to be able to help us too. We had a pretty good off-season. The guys are pretty excited to be in the gym, I think, and we’re just fine-tuning some things that we need to work on to be ready to play when the 8th comes.”

Depth should be a strength for the 2017-18 team.

“This is probably the deepest team we’ve had,” Christensen said. “I think that the style we’re trying to play will allow us to get more guys in. I think the guys are pretty close in their scoring abilities, and defensive abilities as well. By us being able to have a deeper bench and get more guys in, it’s going to benefit us, especially the further we get into the season, having fresher legs.”

Expect the Warrior boys to have a guard-heavy lineup on the floor, although Noah Martin, Rottkamp, senior Carter Hutchins (6-foot-4, 165) and junior Noah Miller (6-foot-0, 165) can play a big-man role when needed.

Playing with energy will be important for the Warriors, who have been working hard at the defensive end and preparing to run the floor.

A year ago, the Warriors scored an average of 59.1 points per game, while yielding 65.5.

“We’ve definitely got to push the ball,” Christensen said. “We’ve pretty much got guards playing the majority of the amount, so we’re going to have to spread it out. Our plan is, if we can push the ball up and get a quick, easy bucket, or a quick, easy shot, we’re going to take it. If not, we’ve got to pull the ball back out and get into what we want to run. We expect that we could have a lot of shooters. We want more of, like, a drive-and-kick and then get to the rim when we have our opportunities, but also if they collapse, be able to kick it out and have numerous guys available to knock down shots. Clayton Mohler, Carter Forney, Dylan Zoccolo, Ryan Shirk, Colby Martin … those are probably the main shooters right now. But there’s a lot of guys who are capable of stepping up and hitting a shot when it’s their time.”

Although the Warwick boys might not have a lot of height inside, Christensen believes they are bigger among their guards, which will aid them in rebounding the ball and defending.

“It is going to help us,” he said. “There’s a lot of teams who have, like, a 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 wing, thin, can get to the rim, and can knock down shots. In the past, it was a really, really tough match-up for us, and I think now we have two guys, specifically Brock Fassnacht and Trysten George who are 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-2, who can defend those guys. Trysten take a lot of pride in shutting people down.”

The Warriors will need that shut-down defense in a Section One race where Hempfield brings back Ryan Moffatt and David Martin. Others are solid as well, including Township, with Tyler Crespo and Brendan Mellott running the guard positions.

“I think Hempfield’s pretty good — they didn’t lose very much,” Christensen said. “Moffatt and Martin are extremely talented. Cedar Crest brings some people back, but we were right there with them last year. We split and we had an opportunity to win in overtime. Township is pretty good. I don’t think any of those teams are superior than anybody else. I think they could easily be beaten on any given night, and that’s Section One. We talk about that all the time. If anybody doesn’t play up to their ability and somebody who normally doesn’t does, you’re going to get them. But I think if we play with the energy we’re supposed to and the discipline we’re supposed to, I don’t see why we can’t beat anybody.”

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