If things come together, Eagles could be darkhorse

By on December 6, 2017
Cocalico’s Aidan Trynosky (right) is one of the top scoring threats in the L-L League.

Cocalico’s Aidan Trynosky (right) is one of the top scoring threats in the L-L League.

After saying good-bye to seven seniors, including the school’s all-time leading scorer in Tucker Lescoe, Cocalico was competitive on a lot of nights a year ago but struggled to put together wins.

With a young and very inexperienced club, the Eagles took their lumps and in the end finished with a 6-16 overall record.

That was the bad news.

The good news to come out of that season was the fact that then first-year coach Seth Sigman was able to find significant playing time for a number of underclassmen, many of whom who will play key roles on this year’s squad.

Leading the way for the Eagles this year will be senior sharpshooter Aidan Trynosky, who averaged nearly 12 points as a sophomore but fell back some a year ago as team’s made him their primary focus and the Eagles struggled to find complimentary scoring.

If this team can figure that out, there is a lot to like about this year’s group.

Scrappy 6-0 senior guard Nick Lucky returns, as do fellow seniors Brad Heck (6-3) and Tyler Keppley (6-1), as well as junior Connor Mack (6-0). Sophomore shooter Peyton Stetter (6-2) could provide the additional scoring the Eagles are looking for, while in the paint, Cocalico is blessed with some rare size. In addition to Heck, junior Brady Nuneville (6-4) and sophomore Trey Griffin (6-4) could give Cocalico an inside presence to go with some of their terrific shooters.

If things come together, Cocalico could be a darkhorse in a very tough Section Two this season.

Cocalico opens the season Friday at the Hershey Tip-Off Tournament where the Eagles will face the host squad in the opening round, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Recently, Ephrata Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth caught up with Sigman to discuss the upcoming season.

The following is a transcript of that conversation

Todd Ruth: First off, after a few weeks of practice, what are your early impressions of this group?

Seth Sigman: I think we practice hard and compete. It’s just something that we really try to focus on…playing hard, working hard, doing the little things the correct way. We always talk about little things adding up to big things so I think we’ve done a really good job just practicing hard, competing in practice and really trying to push each other, which obviously is going to make us a little more competitive as far as wins and losses are concerned.

TR: I think looking back to last year, one of the things that stands out to me is, when teams tried to take away Aidan, sometimes you guys didn’t handle that too well. What kind of improvements have you guys made in regard to that?

SS: We have other guys who have improved their skills offensively. I agree with you. We definitely struggled with that last year. When teams would say, “we are not going to let Aidan beat us,” we definitely struggled in that area. I know we took our lumps last year certainly, but a lot of those guys are all back. We have a lot of experience returning and they kind of saw it firsthand what teams are going to try to do to us, and I just feel there is no substitute for that game experience that our guys got last year. It’s tough to suffer your way through a 6-16 season but it’s really valuable teaching moments and experience for our guys. And moving forward this year I think we are going to do a much better job with that. If teams want to just faceguard Aidan and not worry about anybody else, I think we’ll be able to burn them for that.

TR: Glancing at your roster, it appears you have some size this year. How will that help you?

SS: Kids who play at Cocalico and know if we have a guy that is 6-1, that’s usually our big guy. But we do have a little bit of size this year. We’ve got Brad Heck returning, and he’s one of our bigger kids and an athlete. We have Tyler Keppley, who is not tall big but is a really scrappy kid who plays hard at the four or five for us. Again, there is a ton of experience with those two guys and both are seniors. And there are some other bigs in the mix with Brady Nuneville, a 6-4 kid who has improved a lot over the summer. He came to all of our shooting workouts, open gyms and hit the weight room. He’s made significant growth from last year to this year. And then we got a sophomore, Trey Griffin, who is 6-4, a big kid who we have high hopes for too contributing this year. He’s just a big kid with really good feet, really good hands, and there is no substitute for size…He’s just tough to guard when he gets you locked up on the block. He’s big, strong and can finish inside so we are definitely focusing a little more on our size than what we are used to with our typical Cocalico teams. But it all comes down to guards in basketball. If you have guards you can compete.

TR: Well, you do have your share of guards coming back. What are your thoughts on those guys?

SS: Obviously Aidan is back. He’ll be a three-year starter. Like we said earlier, when teams took him away last year we were going to have a real hard time. He’s our best player and we need him to score. He’s just a really hard-working kid. He’s a really good defender and rebounder too. He does everything for us. He can guard the other team’s best player and he’ll have to score points for us too. He’s got a lot of experience and we think he’s one of the best guards in the league. He may have had a little bit of a down year last year compared to what people thought he may do after his sophomore year but our team dynamics changed significantly from his sophomore to junior year. That was kind of a growing pain we all went through last year, but Aidan had a great summer. He won MVP of the West Reading Summer League. He had a great summer. He’s been in the weight room, did shooting workouts like crazy…He just works his butt off and we expect big things out of him this year.

Some of our other guards who will contribute are Connor Mack, he’s a junior who played a lot for us last year. He started some games. He can shoot the three, can get to the rim and rebounds well for his size. Nick Lucky, same thing. He was a starter last year and he’s a senior. He’s been through the fire. I think Nick was our second-leading scorer last year and obviously we bring him back. He’s improved tremendously. We have high hopes for our guards. We have a freshman, Carter Nuneville, who is going to come in and play for us. He played all summer with the varsity team and really showed he can handle it. He can really handle the ball, is a good defender, he’s scrappy…We have high hopes.

TR: Getting back to Nick Lucky, I thought last year he really gave you that scrappiness, and that can sometimes trickle down to everybody, don’t you think?

SS: Absolutely. Nick gives us the toughness, and last season, he was the guy that gave us a little bit of an edge by playing hard. He absolutely does that still. He pushes guys. In practice he’s all over people in a good way, holding people accountable, working hard, trying to be the first one to win a sprint and things like that. He’s ultra-competitive which makes everyone else step up their game. We love having Nick around. He just plays hard.

TR: Are there any other kids that you see stepping in and contributing at the varsity level?

SS: We have Peyton Stetter, who is a junior. He’s a really good shooter, one of the better shooters in our program. He’s 6-1, 6-2 maybe so he’s long and lanky. He’s going to get some time. He’s one of the guys who is going to step in when teams are trying to double-team Aidan, and he’s one of the guys who is going to have to make them pay for doing that, because he can shoot really, really well.

TR: Sounds like you have a pretty well-rounded team. What do you consider your team’s strengths?

SS: I would say our competitiveness…playing hard is our strength. We obviously need to get better at communicating but I’ve been really pleased in our first two scrimmages with just our effort level. We are playing hard, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are doing everything right every time but our effort is there. And if you are playing hard and trying to push other teams, things will kind of take care of themselves. I just want us to be competitive and play hard…and we are off to a good start.

TR: What areas do you feel your team needs to improve?

SS: From last year to this year we have to be better defensively. We have to be able to stop teams. Like last year, we had a lot of really close games and we couldn’t get a big stop when we needed it. We have to do a better job with that. Or maybe we’d force a bad shot but the other team would get an offensive rebound and lay it back in. We got to defend better. We know Section Two is going to be tough. We know it’s going to be tight games every single night. We know our non-league schedule is murder again, so we got to do the little things well, and it all starts on the defensive end.

TR: What types of goals have you guys set for this year?

SS: We want to compete for the section title, we want to make district playoffs, we want to make state playoffs…We have high expectations. We all kind of suffered through last year together and it can be good for you if you use it and know what you need to do to improve. You know you are knocking on the door in some of those close games with good teams, but we have to take a major step forward this year as far as wins are concerned in order to achieve some of those goals that we have for ourselves.

TR: Looking at the section, you had mentioned it’s going to be a dogfight. What teams do you see challenging for a title this year?

SS: L-S is going to be really good. Ryan Smith (6-9) is a really tough player who is really tough to guard. He’s big inside. I’d probably put them right at the top. Ephrata is going to be really good, E-town is going to be really good. What Coach Dolan is going to do at Donegal is going to be good. And they return their top two scorers. Solanco is going to be improved. And you forget about Manheim Central because they lost Taylor Funk but they bring some starters back, they are scrappy and they’ll play hard. We know what Charlie (Fisher) is going to instill in his team. There is just nobody you can overlook. Everybody’s good. There are no gimme games in Section Two. You have to show up and play hard, and you have to play well and execute or you are going to get a loss. That’s just the way it’s going to go. It’s very balanced. There are no off nights. There are no teams that you feel like you can say, “we should beat them twice.”

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