Wyoming Area has taken steps forward in each of the last two boys basketball seasons.
The Warriors have the experienced players in place to produce a better record for the third straight season, but in order to do so, they will have to navigate a more difficult Wyoming Valley Conference schedule.
Wyoming Area lost just two seniors and only one that was in the team’s regular rotation. The rest of the team comes back along with two more players who had previous varsity experience but chose not to play last season.
The Warriors went 0-13 in the division and 0-23 overall in 2013-14, the season before Pete Moses took over. They went 3-10 and 5-18 in his first season before going 6-7 and 9-14 last season.
Wyoming Area remains in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference where it was third of five teams last season. The teams in each division, however, have changed somewhat and the schedule has changed significantly.
Instead of playing divisional opponents twice, Wyoming Area will play the other Division 2 teams just once and will take on each of the Division 1 opponents, including traditional power Hazleton Area. Division 2 teams will play every other WVC opponent, continuing their one game each against Division 3 teams.
“The team will have to be ready for different tests we haven’t had before,” Moses said.
The Warriors appear to be prepared for a challenge.
“We do have a lot of juniors and seniors,” Moses said. “We’re going to lean on them and rely on them to be leaders.
“They’re kids who have been through a lot of experience because they’ve been playing for quite a while. They are kids who have gotten a lot of minutes.”
The Warriors have six experienced seniors and seven veteran juniors.
The returnees accounted for more than 89 percent of the scoring last season along with handling all the playmaking duties.
Sam Greenfield, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, was a first-team Division 2 all-star choice by the coaches. He shared the team scoring lead with Tony Saitta, a 6-1 senior forward who was a second-team pick.
Junior Kyre Zielinski, the team leader in steals, and senior Kyle Musto, who was second on the team to Saitta in 3-point baskets, return on the wings.
Senior Anthony Nardell is back at point guard.
Juniors Matt Wright and P.J. Angeli also have some experience as starters.
The team has three other seniors. Ryan Shuleski was the third-leading scorer three years ago as a freshman. Cole Keating also returns from a year off. Mikey Bonita gained significant experience last season.
“We definitely have a rotation where I’m comfortable with eight to 10 guys sliding into different roles,” Moses said.
Without a player bigger than 6-2, Moses said it’s important not to complain about the size disadvantage and instead to look at ways to take the team’s strengths and create mismatches for opponents.
Juniors Aaron Zezza, Dylan Melberger and Steven Yordy each have limited varsity experience.
Sophomores Justin Alder, John Angelella, Nick Rubino and Daniel Wiedl all return to the program. They are joined by exchange student Jon Horozoglu.
“I do love this group of kids,” Moses said. “I’ve seen them progress a great deal.
“I’m very happy with the work they put in over the spring and summer. That work has been noticeable on the floor.”
The Warriors have consecutive non-league home games to open the season Dec. 13 and 14 against Mountain View and Lackawanna Trail. They begin WVC play Dec. 22 at home against Northwest.
Berwick and Tunkhannock come down from Division 1 and Meyers comes up from Division 3 to join Division 2. Lake-Lehman and Hanover Area have left the division.