WILKES-BARRE – Opponents can expect to Nick Prociak on the court more often and in more places on the floor.
“He’s definitely going to be an inside-out player for us this year,” Holy Redeemer coach Paul Guido said of the 6-foot-7 junior forward/center from Jenkins Township. “Last year, I pretty much stuck him block-to-block and in the high post and said you’re going to pound down in there.”
Prociak earned all-star honors, even though Guido was carefully managing the number of minutes he played and often bringing him off the bench. He was one of three players who averaged between eight and 10 points a game to lead a balanced attack for the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3 and District 2 Class 3A champion Royals.
There should be fewer limitations on Prociak this season because of time he put in during the offseason.
“Last year, I think Nick struggled a little bit with his weight and conditioning,” Guido said during the Dec. 3 WVC Media Night at Patte’s Sports Bar. “I think that when some of you guys see him physically, you will realize he lost a lot of weight in the offseason.
“He worked hard in the offseason; he changed his diet and did a lot of cardio work. He looks great. I’m hoping that’s going to lead to him playing more minutes and he’s probably one of our best perimeter shooters.”
Holy Redeemer, with a strong push from Wyoming Seminary, is regarded as the favorite in Division 3.
Hazleton Area was also favored by opposing coaches to repeat. The Cougars are defending champions in Division 1, which also includes Pittston Area.
Tunkhannock was selected as the favorite in Division 2, according to opposing coaches. Meyers is the defending champion and Wyoming Area, with Sam Greenfield regarded as one of the division’s top players, could contend.
WVC girls coaches held their Media Day earlier on Dec. 3.
Favorites were less clear in those discussions.
Division 2 again appears strong. Teams in the division play every WVC opponent once each while Division 1 and 3 opponents play their own division rivals twice and do not go against each other.
Last year, Division 2 teams went 25-5 against Division 3 teams and split, going 18-18 against the larger schools from Division 1.
Nanticoke lost its top two scorers to graduation and Holy Redeemer lost its top two to injury. Although they return many other talented players, those losses could bring them closer to the pack. They were chased last season by third-place Berwick and fourth-place Wyoming Area, which each return their top players.
“I think we can be competitive in Division 2,” Wyoming Area coach Chad Lojewski said. “Until we can beat the (Berwick) Bulldogs, Redeemer and Nanticoke, we’re somewhat struck in the middle of that pack.”
Crestwood and Hazleton Area, tied for second behind Wyoming Valley West last season, could move up to battling for the top spot. Pittston Area finished right behind them and also has the chance to be in the title race.
Defending Division 3 champion Northwest is loaded with experience, but has a new coach in Scott Miner.
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