The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 4, 2014

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

Daily Item

---- — 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.

I'm going to guess that all three of those coaches' work ethics have rubbed off on their players.

While Midd-West currently is sitting at 3-13 on the year, Ascher Marks has developed into one of the area's best players with the Mustangs. Selinsgrove is sitting at 2-14, but even Stebila knew coming into the year he had a young team. Even so, the Seals are being led by Ethan Fadale this year, who's averaging a nice 11.1 points per game.

And Britto has the Tigers currently at 8-8, already a win better than last year's squad. And they could easily make a District 4 berth by the end of the year by splitting their final six games.


The last thing you want to do is put pressure on a middle school kid before he even gets to high school, but if his middle school play is any indication of what he brings to the table, he will be something to see in the coming years.

Over in Herndon, C.J. Reichard is playing pretty great basketball as an eighth-grader.

According to his coach, Willard Reed, Reichard is averaging nearly 30 points per game this year, and has 400 points on the season through 14 games with two more to go.

Keep in mind that for eighth-grade basketball, teams only play six-minute quarters.

"(He's) one of those kids that doesn't come around very much," Reed said. "Straight A-student (and) just a great kid.

"Just an exceptionally good ballplayer," his coach added.

Reichard scored a season-high 43 points earlier this year against Greenwood.

The Line Mountain high school varsity team is having a disappointing year this season, but if Reichard is as good as advertised, better days aren't too far off at Line Mountain.

n Jon Gerardi covers boys basketball for The Daily Item. Email comments to or follow him at