The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 4, 2014

Boys basketball: Tough schedule has Shamokin ready for state playoffs

SUNBURY — All year long, Shamokin has had the same mentality: They want to go toe to toe with the best.

Records and stats don’t really matter when the Indians get onto the court. If they can compete with them — and for the most part, they’ve hung with just about everyone they’ve faced — they’re going to play them hard.

“Some of the stuff that we’ve done is to prepare for games like this so you are ready (and) you’re not surprised,” Shamokin coach Chris Zimmerman said. “You know kind of what’s out there and I think our kids feel that way. They’re ready to go.”

After claiming its first District 4 title since the 2008-09 season, Shamokin (22-3) faces District 2 third-place finisher Wilkes-Barre GAR (20-6) on Friday evening at Shikellamy’s Phil Lockcuff Gymnasium at 7:30 in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament.

Shamokin has scrimmaged and played numerous talented teams throughout the year: Loyalsock, Pottsville, Allentown Central Catholic, Bishop McDevitt, Crestwood. The list goes on and on. So the Indians are far from strangers when it comes to talented teams, and Zimmerman knows it’s only beneficial going into the state playoffs.

“That’s why we do it. We take the approach where we want to play anybody,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve been extremely competitive (in scrimmages and games). We’re looking now like the teams left in the state, we’ve seen these teams already. ... What’s there left to be afraid of? Worst thing that happens is you lose a game. Life goes on. If we’re going to be at this stage of the season, we’re going to play the best teams.”

The Grenadiers are led by a handful of talented players, including 6-foot-3 Isaiah Francis, who leads Wilkes-Barre GAR with nearly 500 points on the year while Jahlil Harvey has nearly 400, including sinking 35 treys on the season.

“They’re athletic, they want to get up and down the court (and) they’re going to press,” Zimmerman said. “We kind of like that. That might be to our advantage a little bit too.”

Shamokin has plenty of playmakers to compete with GAR, including seniors Austin Stine (11.8 ppg.) and Josh Pappas (8.8).

Sophomore Jake Weaver stepped up midway through the season when Stine was lost for nearly six weeks with injuries to both wrists, and is averaging almost 10 points per game for Shamokin.

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