The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

February 4, 2014

Jon Gerardi's Boys Basketball column: College experience pays off for coaches

One downside of putting together a preview tab each season is that unfortunately, you have to leave things on the cutting room floor, so to speak. After all, there's only so much space and so many words you can squeeze into a publication.

One interesting thing that I had to leave out of my boys basketball preview this year was that, of the four new coaches this year in the Valley -- Midd-West's Aaron Ettinger, Milton's Gene Bruno, Selinsgrove's Mike Stebila and Southern's Joe Britto -- three of them had experience coaching at the college level.

Bruno left his post as the Penn College men's basketball coach to take over the Black Panthers. Bruno was with the Wildcats since 1995, and was their longest running coach on the athletics staff. Bruno's done a great job this season with Milton. A year removed from a District 4 Class AAA championship, the Black Panthers are 10-8 and need just one more win to punch their ticket to the District 4 playoffs; and Bruno's squad lost a decent amount from last year's team, including 1,000-point scorer Chad Diggan and Michael Jacobs.

Ethan Baker has been fantastic recently -- scoring 70 points in his last three games -- while Travis Krall and Wade Heidel are helping lead Milton as well.

Meanwhile, Ettinger was an assistant for the Susquehanna men's team and Britto was a volunteer assistant with Bloomsburg University.

Britto also has an interesting background that goes beyond that.

After playing at the University of Mass.-Dartmouth, Britto had a stint in the NBA D-League for seven years overseasons. He then had a gig playing for the Harlem Wizards for two seasons.

Britto was nicknamed "Fast Break" and "Jumpin' Joey Britto" with the Wizards -- a Harlem Globetrotters-type team that plays across the country -- for his style of play.

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