Shamokin boys basketball will enter Friday night with a 6-4 record and are only six wins away from surpassing the team’s win total from a season ago.
Though the Indians are on a downswing after opening the season 6-1, it’s undeniable how far the squad has come since losing five starting seniors in 2015.
Senior Collin Bowers believes the team has been more cohesive during its start to the season.
“Confidence and teamwork. We’ve played as a team this year. In past years, that hasn’t exactly been the case. We were immature, talked differently. This year we play as a team and trust each other.
Bowers continued, “We started working when we were immature and young. We’ve matured, gotten bigger and grown up a little bit.”
Junior Joey Masser thinks there are a few components that can lead the Indians in the right direction.
“Whenever we rebound and defend that’s when we’re at our best, because we run out in transition and get easy buckets,” he said.
Shamokin is currently fighting for first place in HAC-I with a 3-2 in-conference record. The Indians currently trail Danville by 2.5 games.
Indians head coach Chris Zimmerman has been with the team during great seasons such as the 2014 campaign where his club went 18-8 and in 2015 which resulted in a 25-4 mark.
Zimmerman has seen big changes with his roster as some players have grown from being freshmen trying to find their footing to junior and senior standouts. Players to do so include Bowers, Masser, Mason Filarski and Matt Schiccatano.
“This group has been playing since 2016. A lot of those guys as sophomores played and probably weren’t ready to play, but because of the situation, where we had a big senior class the year before, they were kinda thrown into the fire. Matt Schiccatano, Joe Masser and Mason, they’ve been playing since their feshman year. They’ve grown. A lot of these guys, two years ago, had to play out of necessity. We weren’t necessarily ready for them to play, but they had to play and they were better then some of the older kids that we had coming back.
Zimmerman added, “Last year I think we were better, but I still think we were lacking maturity and experience when it came down to it. I think the biggest difference is the guys have worked hard, but I think the maturity physically and mentally has really helped out a lot.”
The Indians have focused on bringing intensity and attacking the basket. The team have placed plenty of attention to details by watching film.
“We watch film a lot. We’re on Hudl, so we all have film. We watch film at school, sometimes we have extra time at home,” Bowers said about the studying his team puts into the game of basketball.
Bowers said that his team’s gameplan for each game is adjustable and that not only have the Indians improved over the years, but they also have changed while their conference foes have not.
“Our game plan is different every week. There’s always different matchups for us and we’ve been playing the same players every year, only we’ve improved more than they have. We’ve worked harder than them. We’ve worked harder and gotten better and they’ve stayed the same,” Bowers said about a conference that includes Danville, Mifflinburg and Jersey Shore.
Shamokin expects to compete for a district title and Zimmerman added that his team plans on playing in late February and March.
“We expect to be good. We expect to be a state playoff team and to be able to win our district and so far we’re looking good,” Bowers said about his team’s expectations.
The Indians have stayed conditioned, which is mainly a result of several players having played other sports besides basketball.
Masser said that keeping the players fresh has been a point of emphasis throughout his time on the team.
“He (Zimmerman) has a lot of different rotations in our practice. So, we’re not dead, especially when we play a lot in the games. He’ll bring in other guys to see what they can do,” Masser noted.
Not only are the players different this year, but Zimmerman said he has changed quite a bit as a coach.
“I think I’ve changed a lot. I don’t think I’ve lost any of my intensity, but just growing, this is my 16th year coaching, 8th as head coach and just realizing that all the kids are different and you treat them all fairly, but you don’t treat them all the same. There’s different situations with every kid. I’m just trying to get to know the kids.”
Zimmerman continued, “I definitely think early on I was a yeller and a screamer. Now I think it’s more about teaching and understanding that for the most part the kids are really trying to do well. They’re not trying to screw up. When they do make mistakes — try to teach them — try to get them to learn from it. As long as they have a good attitude and are doing everything they can to be the best they can be — that’s all I can ask.”
For a team to capture wins, sometimes that involves buckling down and paying attention to detail really late in games.
Masser discussed how the team has prepared for late in-game situations.
“We have to work the basketball more. Whenever we’re up, we always work the ball and we don’t want to set up the bad shots. We want to control the pace of the game and defend our guys,” Masser concluded.
Some of the players addressed what they have to do to get better moving forward.
“Definitely get my defense better. Work on my shot and help teammates get better,” Filarski said.
“Work on off the ball defense, get my shot more consistent and get to the hoop more consistently,” Bowers added.
“Have a little bit more confidence when I shoot the basketball. Off-ball defense needs to get better and sometimes work on finishing with my right hand a little more,” Masser explained.
Bowers also expects the Shamokin basketball program to continue to keep getting better as the years keep passing by.
“I think it’s going to keep rising like it is. These guys work hard at practice. They’re talented,” Bowers said about the program’s future.