Coach Tim Speraw- Lebanon interview

LLhoops finally connected with Coach Tim Speraw. He has quite a history with the Cedars and shares his thoughts on various topics. LLhoops learned a lot about the Cedars program. Enjoy!

You are entering the 9th season as the head coach for the Cedars. You are getting close to the longest coaching stint in the Cedar history of the LL. What are the keys to keeping your program going?
The biggest key to our program is our Biddy Basketball Program (youth program) and consistency of coaches at all levels.  I have had the luxury of having the same Biddy coordinator, George Kreiser, in place for my entire tenure.  Coach Kreiser, along with his staff of volunteers, keep that program executing at a high level.  That leads right into our middle school staff that has been intact for almost my whole tenure. 
The second biggest key is consistency with our principles and vision.  Obviously, basketball itself is a huge focus for any basketball program.  However, we never lose sight of trying to build the character of these young men.  We hold them accountable for their actions in and out of the classroom and strive to make them better young men through basketball.

2)   How do you deal with the ups and downs of coaching from year to year and game to game.
It’s Its difficult because it’s definitely a grind in the year to year aspect.  Coaching basketball, especially at Lebanon, is a year long job.  We don’t take any months off, just a couple weeks after the season and at the end of summer.  We’re constantly working with the kids in the gym, the weight room and keeping an eye on academics.  You need a supportive family and my wife understands the grind.  She doesn’t always like it, but she understands what it takes to be successful.  In terms of game to game, it’s a matter of being organized, staying true to your vision, and having a short memory.  You don’t have time to harp on the last game or a bad practice because you have to get ready for the tomorrow’s game or practice.  Surrounding yourself with a good staff is a huge key to keep you balanced and focused as a head coach.   

3) You shared some info about the Hall of Fame for the Cedars. Can you share with our followers who is in this year and how you were/are influenced by the inductees? Are there others in the hall that you have had close contact with during you tenure?
Four of this year’s inductees have a strong connection to me as a person and a coach.  Coach John Barnhart was my high school coach.  He got the most out of a fairly unathletic 6’0” guard.  He allowed me the freedom to be a coach on the court to my teammates.  A lot of his philosophies and techniques carry over in to my X’s and O’s.  He also gave me my first coaching opportunity when I was a somewhat lost 20-year old.  His coaching influence will always be with me and I have tremendous respect for what he accomplished and did for his players. 
Coach Paul Blackburn is also getting inducted.  He gave me my first varsity position on his staff after graduating college and getting a teaching position at Lebanon.  He has also had a big influence on my coaching philosophies.  I use a lot of the same terminology, which gets interesting when we play each other.  I also learned a lot from Coach Blackburn on dealing with kids…attitudes, emotions, and day to day problems that arise in high school kids.  He has a awesome outlook and he’s someone I still look to for advice from time to time. 
Coach Carlos Sanchez is also getting inducted.  When I began coaching, I was two doors away from Coach in our hallway.  We always talked basketball and life.  I’ve often said, “if you don’t like Los, you just have problems” because he’s about as nice of a person as you can meet.  I coached girls basketball under him for two years.  It was an invaluable experience switching over to the girls side.  I learned a lot in terms of basketball and how to deal with team dynamics (did I say I was coaching girls?…haha).  When Carlos resigned and I later became head coach for the boys, I constantly bugged him to join my staff.  He finally did and it was awesome to have “the band back together again”.  It’s so much more fun to coach with someone like Los by your side. 
Anthony Trautman is also getting inducted.  He was a freshman my first year under Coach Blackburn.  Our varsity team was senior laden and loaded that year, winning the LL Championship.  Anthony started as a sophomore and never looked back.  I still say to teams today, that he was always the first to the gym and the last to leave.  There were times, we’d have to call his parents to tell them he was OK and that we were still just shooting in the gym, 1-2 hours after practice ended.  We played one on one after every practice and stayed to get a couple hundred more shots up.  He finished his career at LVC as the Conference Player of the Year.  That was like a “proud dad” moment knowing how much time and energy he put into becoming the player he was.  He returned to play professional basketball in Spain this year but he was on my staff the last two years.  I definitely see him being a coach one day.
Other Hall of Famers that I keep contact with?  Hmmmm…I guess I’ll start with my wife, Hannah (Phillips).  She definitely keeps me and our family balanced.  Basketball season is long and tough for a family.  She manages to run her own business, keep us organized and allows me to put extra time into the kids I coach.  I couldn’t do this without her. 

Hall of Famer Mike Bechtold has become one of my best friends over the years.  He’s still very supportive of the program and I never hesitate to ask him advice on X’s and O’s from his Princeton days.  Todd Wike, also a very good friend, lives out of state but has been a huge supporter of our program.  He has helped many less fortunate players and families behind the scenes.  Other Hall of Famers that are often mentioned in practice or film study are Chris Kelliher (best defensive player I’ve ever seen), Jason Coletti (great offensive player and HC at Annville-Cleona), and Pat Daly (part of 3 straight LL Championships with Bechtold, Wike and Coach Barnhart).

4) What are your most memorable moments as the Cedars head coach?
Well, since that LL crown has alluded me on two occasions, I can’t use that.  There were so many good wins but I’ve always loved the underdog role.  Therefore, I would say the district playoff upsets of Wilson my first year (’10-11) and Harrisburg in (’16-17), simply because the joy the players had during and after the game.  They competed and focused at a higher level and they were rewarded for it. 
It’s also memorable and I’m very proud of players playing at the next level…in any sport.  As an assistant, Anthony Trautman at LVC, Jared Odrick playing football at Penn State (and the NFL), and Adam Brossman playing football at LVC.  Blayde Reich just finished a great career at York College.  Mark Pyles just finished a great career playing football at Bucknell.  Jeremy De La Cruz just finished a good career playing football at LVC.  Justin Baker currently playing basketball at LVC and Khalique Washington playing football at a junior college in Kansas.  I’m sure I’m missing a few and I apologize in advance.

Lastly, the night of my 100th win.  I came into coaching with no real personal goals, only team goals, and I still feel that way.  However, that night, Carlos was on my staff and a few other coaches came back to celebrate the milestone.  Coach Barnhart also came to that game which was very special to me.  The happiness my players showed me that night was overwhelming and something I’ll never forget. 

5) The Cedars are moving sections again. What are your thoughts on the newest alignment of the LL?
I don’t really have many thoughts one way or another.  This is the fourth time in 9 years that we’ll have new sections so it’s become pretty common.  It’s always interesting to see how it plays out in the end.  We’ll show up like we always do and compete as hard as we can.  All we want in the end is to have one more point than whoever is wearing the other color jersey.

Bonus: Is there any advice you would have for someone wanting to get into coaching hs hoops?
Enjoy the journey.  It’s something Coach Blackburn used to always try to instill in the kids.  It’s something that I try to instill in my teams and we talk about often.  The problem is, I don’t know that I actually do it myself.  We win a game and I instantly start thinking about our next opponent before I even leave the gym.  Second piece of advice would be to be true to yourself but also be willing to take advice from others.  I feel that I’ve always stuck to my vision and beliefs even when things weren’t going well or there were problems within the program.  I’ve also been very blessed to have coached with and under many good coaches.  Take advice and think about it.  It’s okay to realize that you’re doing something wrong and you need to change, as long as you have the proper end goal in sight.  And as I said, enjoy the journey.

Freddy Ramos- JP McCaskey interview

LLhoops touched base with Coach Ramos earlier this summer. He shares some of his thoughts as he enters the first year at McCaskey (the third head coach since the LL started in 1973). Enjoy!

1) Can you give followers your hoops background?
I’ve been a basketball coach and administrator for 22 years.  During that time, I have coached at every level from Middle School through High School.  I was an Athletic Director for several years with 10 teams at the school.  I also spent 4 years as a League Commissioner/President with 7 member schools (each with multiple teams).  I have worked for a recruiting service where I coached athletes during evaluation events and connected players with college coaches.  Most recently, I was a high school Varsity assistant coach and JV head coach.  I spent quite a bit of time on skill development, scouting and communicating with my players. I find it important to connect with student-athletes year round and to make sure that the connection is life-based, not sports-based.

2) What are the biggest challenges facing you/Mccaskey at this point in time?
Every coach has a unique approach to different situations around the sport.  As you experience a change in leadership, this becomes more visible.  Change is any situation can be challenging, but especially with high school student-athletes.  There are philosophies and expectations that I will place upon the program which build upon our rich tradition.  My challenge is to implement change where necessary and adapt to status quo where appropriate.  This is not new to me; not only do I embrace change, but I am well versed at implementing change.  My focus at the moment is to build sound relationships with our players, our alumni and our community.  The good thing is that I have already begun this process and am having positive experiences through these connections.  I am excited to continue to grow and build on these relationships.  It is truly humbling to be part of such a great community in the district that I live in.

3) What style can we expect from the tornado this next season?
We will focus on a “defense first” mindset.  We will be rewarded with great opportunities by committing to playing aggressive defense at all times. You can expect to see a team that plays fast and aggressively while supporting one another through every moment. 

4) Is your staff set? If so can you give us who is coaching with you?
I am currently completing evaluation of my potential staff.  This was not be a quick process for me.  I will surround myself with a staff that can relate to our student-athletes.  I will also ensure that the staff is experienced.  As far as timing, I am focused on fit, rather than timing.  As I find the right fit, the time is right.

5) Your short term and long term goals for the Year?
My short-term goal is to develop a strong mind-set amongst our student-athletes of consistency in our approach towards everything that we do (school, home, relationships, athletics, etc.).  We strive for good citizenship and values.  On the court, we want to be cohesive in all that we do.  We want to be positive leaders while holding ourselves accountable for our efforts/actions.  Lastly, we are going to love to play defense.

Bonus: How much Red and Black for you have in your wardrobe? 🙂
I’ve always kept Red and Black in my rotation.  What’s amazing is how much more I have now.  Father’s Day was different for me this year.  I didn’t receive any tools or gift cards; everything that I received from my family was red, black or both.  I’m outfitted in Red Tornado gear for several weeks before laundry needs done……McCaskey Proud!



~Dell Jackson

Doug Kraft- 17under Cats

This is after both our teams advanced through to the championship game of the Charm City Classic at Millersville University in April. We didn’t play the final and shared the title.- D Kraft

LLhoops caught up with Doug Kraft in August 2018. Coach Kraft mans to under 17 crew for the Cats- basically a team made up of LL players. The program has grown and been very competitive. You can find Doug at MANY LL games throughout the season. Some interesting info. This is the secomnd time he has joined the LLhoops interview- sure it won’t be the last 🙂  Enjoy!


1) Llhoops has been following the Cats via your twitter account. Can you take us thru your season?

This year our 17U season ran from mid-March through July. We really broke it down into 3 segments.

The NCAA Division 1 live periods are in April and July, so we play in NCAA certified events during those weekends and we’ll look for cost-effective, quality competition as best we can outside of those weekends.

This year we kept 20 guys which allowed for competitive practices and the ability to field two teams for most tournaments.

 Segment 1 (March to mid Ma y) Highlights – 

*We advanced to the finals of the Platinum (B) Bracket of the highly competitive Hoop Group Pitt Jamfest at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. We went 5-1, losing to Team M.O.A.M out of Florida, 64-58, in the title game.

*Our 4th annual College Coaches Night was another success. The Thursday night before Mother’s Day we close our first segment with this event. We invite the coaching staffs of most every Division 2 and Division 3 school in the Middle Atlantic into our practice to observe/evaluate our guys. We had 39 coaches from 25 different colleges attend. We invite our guys’ high school coaches to attend as well and then host a social afterwards giving time for all to spend time together. Without a doubt it’s the best thing we do.

Segment 2 (mid May to mid June) Highlights –

*Practice moves to once a week. We take 4 weekends off so guys can focus high school team obligations.

*We played in tournaments at Millersville and Mount St. Mary’s in front of those coaching staffs.

Segment 3 (mid June thru July) Highlights –

*We cut down to one team to prepare for the 3 Division 1 live recruiting weekends. We played at the Basketball Summer Championships in Springfield, MA; The Hoop Group Summer Jamfest at Spooky Nook; and Elevate Hoops Summer Final at King of Prussia. We played in the Elite (A) Bracket in every tournament. We went an combined 7-4 in those high-level events, which was our best-ever showing at that level.

2) Can you share your roster and what schools the players attend?
This year our roster included:

Eli Washington Hempfield High School
David Kamwanga Lancaster Catholic High school
Tyler Crespo Manheim Township High School
Colby Martin Warwick High School
Ronnie Swantner Hempfield High School
Zack Kingsley Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Amos Kollie Elizabethtown Area High School
Brendan Mellott Manheim Township
Dwayne Caine Jr Lancaster Catholic High school
Seth Beers Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Patrick Holmes Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Adam Wernoch Hempfield High School
Chase Broderick Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Ryan Shirk Warwick High School
Larry Locker Elizabethtown Area High School
Justin Baker Lancaster Catholic High School
Adam Stoltzfus Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Xavian Rodriguez Ephrata Senior High School
Andrew Zentner Garden Spot High School
Tyler Vicidomini Manheim Township High School

3) What type of logistical issues do you face for practice, games and organizing players?
Really the hardest part is finding the time to do it all. We have a great partnership with Lancaster Bible College for a practice facility. AD Pete Beers and Sarah Wilcox do a lot for us and others to make LBC a home. Rich Hinnenkamp at Lancaster Catholic and Zac Kraft at Lancaster Country Day stepped up on the rare occasions when Bible wasn’t available. (It pays to know people).

I personally decide on which tournaments we play trying to balance competition and cost. I never play tournaments on Mother’s Day or Memorial Day because I don’t want our moms in the gym on their day (sorry Kathleen Holmes) and I don’t want to be in the gym on Memorial Day weekend. We get great cooperation from our guy’s high school coaches. We know when they have open gym, summer league and team camp and just roll with the punches.

We try to have clear communication with our players so there is very little unexpected conflict. We deal directly with the player. We make them take ownership of their schedule. At our age level, our guys are capable of handling things. Or at least they should be. The harder part is making sure mom and dad don’t try to do it for them.

4) How do you pick your team?
Our tryouts really run during the L-L League season. We watch the league. We stay in touch with the high school coaches to find out who may be looking for an AAU team. Word of mouth has spread the good vibes. Our former players are great in making sure I know of guys coming up. It’s all about relationships. And positive results and experiences. The Class of 2014 had 4 guys move onto college basketball, 2016 had 6, 2017 had 5 and 2018 has 7. That’s 21 guys off 4 teams. They can attest to their experience with Cats. We could have as many as 10 from this year’s group move on.

We are now in a spot where many guys pick us.

5) Do college coaches contact you about your players or players you have coached against?
In terms of our players, they contact me all the time. When we play in live events all levels of coaches see us play. There is constant follow up. I probably take a text, social media DM or call about recruiting every day from now through next May. Then we start up again.

 Once in awhile I will get asked about a kid on another team. I really don’t like sharing anything about a guy I don’t know as a person. I will talk about what level ability he has.

Bonus: Most HS coaches talk about building a program. You have new (mostly) players each year. What are your future goals for the Cats?
That is a killer good question. I evaluate this all the time. This costs me time and money, so I first have to make sure it is not detrimental to my family. My wife, Terry, has been ultra supportive. But we love beach weekends and they pretty much go bye-bye with AAU.

My original goal when I got involved with Cats was to help our team become competitive enough to keep the best local kids playing AAU on our local team. It has taken time but I feel we have done a good job with that. We used to have kids leave to play on Philly-based teams or teams like the Jersey Shore Warriors. This year was the first time we played the Warriors’ top team. They were a bit down this year but we were up double-digits in the 2nd half at the Summer Jamfest. Winner advances to the Sweet 16. I felt our team was better. We just didn’t make the plays we needed to and we ended up letting the game slip away. But I looked at my assistants, Dave Evans and Tom Wernoch, and said we’ve come along way.

In the end, however, our goal will always be to help guys get better and to help raise the bar for L-L Hoops.

This was just after we ended our season with a win in our last game at Elevate Hoops Summer Final at King of Prussia in July. We went 7-4 in Elite Bracket play during the NCAA Division 1 live recruiting period. This team was one of, if not the best, we’ve had.- D Kraft

~ Dell Jackson


Jerry Shenk- in memory

                     Jerry Shenk’s pict for his media pass- 2017.

Jerry Shenk

I have been conflicted, saddened, and duty bound about writing in past tense about Jerry Shenk.

Jerry’s obitutary From LNP

I dubbed Jerry – “the Guru of PA HS boys basketball”.

Jerry created a newsletter and rankings – The Middle Atlantic Sporting News before anyone else was thinking about rankings. I wish I could tell you the exact dates, but I do not know. I do know he contacted me in the late 80’s when I was Penn Manor’s coach. Perhaps he was selling me a subscription (I did), but we always talked at least once a year on HS hoops. He would get newspapers from York, Reading, Harrisburg and Lancaster to keep up with his rankings and standings. He complied everything. I could ask him about a year and who won this and that, and he would check his binders on teams, years, districts, and states. Donyell Marshal, of Reading HS, helped with supporting the newsletter after he got to the NBA.

Jerry helped compile the District 3 and PIAA boys basketball records. LLhoops used to try to keep up with the history of the District using Jerry as a source, but the folks at the district level finally used his work to incorporate into their site/programs. Anywhere you see old records, think of Jerry as he probably had a huge part in the stats.

As things began to change for his newsletter – and folks starting to get involved in the internet- Jerry helped with rankings. He would rank District 3 teams and for a few years did state rankings. His ranking system included all classes and public and private schools. The Pittsburgh Post picked up his state rankings for a few years.

Jerry also compiled Mid Penn records for the old Central Penn. He wrote a booklet and sold it (I have a copy somewhere- but could not find it L). If anyone has a copy and wants to sell it to LLhoops…J

On the old site, we had pre 1972 LL records (coaches, scoring etc). While I was an assistant at PM a few years back, we had a player (Marc Summy) put up 48 in a game. A few asked me about the 50 pt. games in the LL, and Jerry had the list for me!

We finally had Jerry post his on info. In the last 2 years on llhoops. In the past he would send me his updated lists very late on Sunday night- like 2 am Monday morning. I was glad he could post when he wanted as working at 7 am and making sure I had the postings up by that day made things a bit challenging. Jerry was also very active in hoops bulletin boards as a moderator and contributor.

The last time I visited Jerry was this past spring. He called me up to help him with his telephone. After a few calls to the phone company, we got things straightened out. I was more than happy to help Jerry.

He was a fixture at High School games for many years. Although sometimes the mainstream media had some issues with him at the games, he came to be a respected source of info as acceptance of online media took effect. He would cover districts games like no other. The last few years, Jerry did not get around as well, but would get to a few games: he would ask me to get him a table for games (PM always helped us with the tables). At LS he would get in the box using the elevator. The staff shirts he wore made him happy for sure- his payment for all the years of service to our site:)

The last few years, Jerry has been hooked on checking out HS games online – streaming, replays, summations. Last year he told me he watched over 400 games on his bigger screen computer at his house…and wondered why our area did not do this? …again he was thinking ahead. With some new NCAA rules involving dead times, streaming of AAU tournament games will take front and center stage (if a coach can’t be there in person, he can tell recruit he was watching him on the net).

Jerry told me a story about Readings legendary Coach, Jim Gano. He told me what impressed Jerry is that Coach Gano would take notes on the Jv players (the opponents) while he was talking to Jerry before the games. Coach Gano said he was looking for tendencies (one wonders what Coach would do with tapes available today 🙂

Longtime hoops historian, City of Basketball Love, and organizer for PA ALL-State teams, Mike Bullock (@thebullp_n), stated this in a tweet earlier:
“RIP, Jerry. You’ve got the best seat in the house now.”


“While I didn’t know Jerry at all when I first started covering high school basketball, I soon learned of his vast reputation — and, of course, his rankings.

Once I started working on state-wide rankings for PennLive and then for City of Basketball Love, I’d always take a peek at Jerry’s listings just to see if I was in the ballpark with him. Especially since I know of several guys in the business who regularly made use of his stuff.

Eventually, once I introduced myself to Jerry at Giant Center, we used to spend all sorts of time talking about different teams and the difficulty both of us would encounter trying to find oft-elusive and unreported results. Sometimes we’d commiserate together, but other times we’d laugh because he was just as determined as I was to be spot-on with the records we used to supplement our rankings packages.

Bottom line is he and I, despite the generational difference, became kindred spirits.

Now that he has the best seat in the house to watch Pennsylvania hoops, I definitely will miss him because he was always so terrific to me and quick to share information that I might have been unable to locate. I won’t be the only one in this business who misses him, because there are plenty of others out there who valued his work along with his tireless dedication to his work. Thanks Jerry, for everything.”

Dave Burman (@BurmanDave)– Radio/TV sports broadcaster and sports historian.
“One of the greatest of all-time!! Had many, many, many long high school basketball chats over the last 4 decades!!!”

Tigh Savercool (@tsave31)– Head Coach at Cedar Cliff
“Jerry loved high school hoops. The definition of a junkie…in today’s day and age of games being streamed, he’d watch hundreds of games per month! A genuine good soul.”

Paul Blackburn (@P_Blackburn43)– Head Coach at Hershey HS
“RIP Jerry. Met him in the mid-80’s when he covered our Carlisle teams. Always kept in touch with him throughout my coaching career to talk hoops. Had a great passion for HS basketball and covered it thoroughly. He will be missed.”

“Jerry would see things with his own eyes, others took others words on teams. He saw for himself most of the time…I knew it was a special game when Jerry was in the gym”

Jerry’s rankings sometimes leaned towards Reading High and LS.:) Hard to argue with Reading ..and LS, well, the LS grad always had a soft spot for the Pioneers….

Ex-Pioneer boss, John Achille…“Jerry is a GREAT person.  When I got the head job at L-S many years ago, Jerry attended one of our games and came up and introduced himself to me (I did not know him at all), he remembered me from my playing days at Erie Cathedral Prep.  He recalled us winning the AAA State Championship in 1980 vs. Allentown Central Catholic.  He was just a SINCERE person.  He attended many L-S games during my tenure and I always looked forward to speaking with him.  He CARED about people.  He would always ask about how my family and how my boys were doing.  He will be missed!”

And this from Jerry’s last llhoops post 2018:

“Lampeter-Strasburg 50 Lancaster Catholic 40 – This one was special to me. Way back in the early 1950’s there was no Lampeter-Strasburg. There was a West Lampeter HS, a Strasburg HS, that burned down in 1942 and was never rebuilt. I lived in Strasburg Township and all we had were 10 one room school houses that only went to eighth grade if you wanted to go farther there were three high schools that bordered Strasburg, including West Lampeter. In 1953 the three-school district’s merged to become Lampeter-Strasburg. When I was in fifth grade at Walnut Run, I started to read the AP story every Monday in the paper that would give a rundown of the whole state and started to follow high school basketball throughout the state three years before I ever knew I would be going to Lampeter-Strasburg. In September of 1956 the doors of L-S were to open but it was not ready so they put us all in West Lampeter High until L-S was ready in October. The new high school was to be 7th to 12th grade but West Lampeter did not have enough room so for that month and a half, some of us went to school from 8 to noon and the other half went from noon to 4 pm. That was nice.”

Some pre – LL links from Jerry:
Pre LL 1000 point scorers
Top coaches- pre LL 1972
Top players – pre LL 1972

Bottom line: Jerry was a High School Hoops junkie. The time he dedicated to the sport was legendary. His knowledge of the history of the sport will be sorely missed. His help with was key to helping us start and progress with the site, rankings, and acceptance as a legit source of information for the LL, District 3, and the PIAA.

~Dell Jackson










Coach Jason Coletti- AC interview

ed. note : Annville-Cleona recently named Jason Coletti as the new head coach. Coach Coletti shared some thoughts with LLhoops. Enjoy!

1) Can you give llhoops followers your background? Coaching playing etc?
I went to Lebanon H.S. where I played and graduated in 1994.  I played my freshmen year at Kutztown University before transferring and playing at Lebanon Valley College. I have been a Head Varsity Coach for 10 years. 6 Years with the Manheim Central Girls Program (1005-2011) and 4 years with the Ephrata Boys Basketball Program (2011-2015). 

2) Have you had a chance to meet and work with your new team? If so or not, what are the plans for the rest of the summer?
I have only been the Head Coach at AC for a week and have only had two workouts so far. I have only met a few of the players and looking forward to getting all the players in the gym real soon! The players I have been able to meet so far have had great effort and I am excited about for the future. My plan is to try to get us into a team camp this summer so we can get to know one another. This is especially important this year since we are behind for the summer and we need to get everyone on the same page. We are not in any summer leagues so we will be offering plenty of time in our gym this summer. 

3) What style can we expect the Dutchmen to play next season?
I prefer to play an up tempo style of basketball. However, this will all depend on the personnel we have this year which is why we need to ensure everyone is attending our off-season activities. 

4) What are your thoughts on being in section 5 in the LL? Have you had any trouble filling out your schedule?
From what I understand, our schedule is set for next season. As for the sections, we will just focus on our section and not worry about how many sections there. We will work to get better each day and hopefully after league play, we will be right there.  

5) Looking to the future, what goals do you have for the program?
Our immediate goals for the program, our to promote basketball to get the best athletes in our school out for basketball and to develop our elementary program. We need to ensure we are developing players at an early age.  I am excited about the future of our program because of the young players who have already been in the gym. They work hard and we have some very athletic underclassmen.




Coach Seth Buckwalter LMHS interview

ed note: Seth Buckwalter was recently named as the new head coach for Lancaster Mennonite. He has been part of the program since his playing days. He shares some of his thoughts with Enjoy.

1) The news of Coach Groff leaving coaching at LMHS surprised a lot of fans. When did you find out and what were your feelings at that time.  
      Coach Groff officially told the coaching staff on May 8th.  After the season ended he told me that he was considering stepping away from coaching, so I was not surprised by the announcement.  When he told us I felt a mixture of sadness that such a great coaching era was ending, but an excitement about the chance to try something new and challenging if I was given the opportunity to take the position.   

2) You have been part of LMHS hoops for a long time- player/coach. What makes coaching and working at LMHS special to you?
I appreciate the ability to openly bring my Christian Faith into the experience of coaching and teaching.  I love that I can pray with the guys before and after games, and discuss athletics from the view of using our God given gifts to honor Him. Secondly, I have developed a lot of connections in the LMH community over the years, so it is special to know that a lot of people that I know are watching and supporting the program. Finally, I feel like year after year we get top-notch guys playing on our team.  Not just talented players, but young men that I enjoy being around and who have good character.  I have the same experience in the classroom, and it makes it a great place to work.       

3) You know the players well. What, if any, changes do you want to institute on your first team? 
 I played under coach Groff, and have only ever coached under coach Groff, so my view of the right way to play the game is similar.  My personality is different than coach Groff’s, so a big part of the transition for myself and the players will involve learning how play for a coach with a different personality.  I hope to maintain the same expectation of excellence that coach Groff always brought to the table, but have it fit who I am.  

4) Next year an new 5 Section format for the LL. What are your thoughts on the format? Has LMHS had trouble getting non-league games?  
I wasn’t a part of the decision making team on the new format, so all I can do is embrace the situation.  I’m not sure if our athletic director has had difficulty with the scheduling.  

5) Can you share a story or 2 about being a player/coach under Geoff Groff?  
 As a player, my fondest memory is winning the district title my senior year.  I look back at it, and am amazed at the faith he had in his young players as that year went on.  We ended up winning the game on foul shots made by a 10th grader who did not have much varsity experience, but Groff saw potential in him and was willing to play him in overtime of a district title game and he made the winning shot.  

   As a coach, I’ve simply been amazed at Geoff’s ability to assess what is going on in a game and speak to exactly what needs to be fixed.  Time and time again, it seemed like the wheels were falling off in some game or another and it felt like we were doing everything wrong possible.  Geoff would call a time-out, or halftime would come, and rather than talking about everything that was going wrong, he would pinpoint one or two things.  He would communicate it to the guys and next thing you know we would be back in control of the game.  I was always amazed at his insights in those moments.  

 ~Dell Jackson




2018-19 Boys LL Section Realignment

LL Boys alignment for 2018-19

Section 1
Cedar Crest
Manheim TWP
Penn Manor

Section 2
Conestoga Valley

Section 3
Garden Spot
Manheim Central

Section 4
Lancaster Catholic
Northern Lebanon

Section 5
Lancaster Country Day
Lancaster Mennonite
Lebanon Catholic
Pequea Valley


Coach Ed Berryman LS- Interview

Coach Berryman was recently named coach of the year in section 2. He shares with us some thoughts about his program, the year that was and looking ahead.Enjoy!

1) Congrats on a great season and being named LLhoops Section 2 Coach of the Year. Was there a time when you thought this team was going to be special or was the thought process – lets get better each game?

I think we first recognized that this team had great potential during our team camp at Albright College. We won all of our games and that included teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and DC. What I saw was a group who was unselfish and did not care who scored. They all accepted their role and rarely did they try and do things they weren’t capable of doing. Everyone played tough defense! We also knew that we had great leadership from our senior class.

At the beginning of the year, as we do every year, we set our goal to win the section. Winning the section will lead us to post season opportunities. This year though, we added the LL League Championship to our goals. There has been an empty space on the Boys Basketball Banner hanging in the gym under League Champion. We felt that this was the year to fill in that space!

2) LS wins its first ever LL title. Can you take us thru some hi-lights of the LL tournament?

By winning the section we were able to play the first round at home. We played LMH who we had played and beaten earlier in the year in a tough game. We knew they were better than they were the first time we played. Anytime LS plays LMH, you know that it is going to be a high intensity game. We trailed after each of the first three quarters. John Gillespie was shooting the lights out and Carter Hurst was also on fire. We kept competing and leaned on our big man Ryan Smith. He played with a determination that I hadn’t seen before. He was dominant and led us that night with 39 points.

In the semifinals we played Hempfield. We started strong and led 19-2 after the first quarter with Isaac Beers scoring 15 of his game high 22 points. I remember telling the team that this game was far from over and I reminded them that Hempfield had scored 35 points in one quarter this past season. As expected, they came back and had us on our heels. We did not handle their half court 1-2-2 trap very well and the game was tight. Zack Kingsley made a huge 3 point shot and then later penetrated the baseline to make a nice pass to Ryan. There was a definite sigh of relief when the final buzzer sounded.

In the championship game against Catholic, we started slow and fell behind early in the first quarter. Like our first game against LMH, we had already played Catholic as it was our first game of the year. Again, we knew it was going to be a tough game as they always get better as the season progresses. Isaac had a great game and scored the ball inside and outside. As happened most of the season, we were led by Ryan and Isaac and everyone else made key contributions. Another highlight in the game was listening to the LS and LC student sections going back and forth. As expected, they both did it with class! It felt great as a coach to put those Gold Medals around the neck of each player. We dreamt big and we were able to realize that dream!

3) Where do you go from here? Program plans, adjustments, etc?

As we continue to grow our program, I have to mention our youth program. We have great parents/coaches who love the game and volunteer their time to teach the fundamentals of the game. In fact, John Achille started the in house program in 2004-2005 and I was the sixth grade coach with my son playing. My assistant, Bob Sweger, has been instrumental in the growth of our youth program. We feel good about our program and feel that next season can be another successful campaign. We had 14 players on the varsity roster last year. That will leave us with 8 players returning and half of them being key contributors this past season. The JV team had a strong year and ended their season 16-3. Obviously when you graduate 6 significant seniors you will need to make adjustments. The core of our program does not change, we will continue to play hard, play together, and have fun. I always enjoy the challenge of understanding each player’s strengths, and putting them in the best positions so that we can all be successful as a group.

4) What are your thoughts on the new LL format next season?

I really don’t have much to say about the new 5 section format. We will see how it plays out next year. I just know that we will be setting our goal to win section 3

5) What were/are key components of the success you have had at LS the last 2 seasons as head coach?

One of the key components of our success the last two years is the fact that we have had good players. A lot of the guys are playing basketball all year round. They are focused and have an individual determination to get better.

We preach team consistently. We look to move the ball on offense so that we as a team can get the best shot. We will play tough team defense by being in proper help position and communicating well.

I have a dedicated group of coaches. Bob Sweger, my assistant, and Pete Kingsley, the freshman coach, are always keeping the boys playing in the off season. We also have consistency in our middle school program with Bob Rosensteel who has been a fixture at LS for over 30 years.

We have a consistent message, which is PLAY HARD, PLAY TOGETHER, and HAVE FUN!






Coach Geoff Groff- Section 3 Coach of the Year

Coach Geoff Groff has been a fixture in the LL for many years. LMHS had a fantastic year (PIAA run that fell a second short of playing for in a PIAA title game). Coach Groff shares with us some of his thoughts. Enjoy!

1) Congrats of a great season- 400 win mark, great run in post season, and Section 3 Coach of the Year. Was there anything/game/moment when you thought that you had a “special team”?

 I felt like this could be a solid team because John Gillespie and Carter Hurst were 3-year starters and in my opinion were as good as any guard combo we were going to face this year.  I also felt like with Roman Ali we had a very good player who if he could stay healthy would surprise a lot of people.  We needed to stay healthy as a group and we needed both Elijah’s to make the transition from solid JV players to contributing Varsity players.  It took us a little longer than I had hoped to find our stride, but the second time we played N. Lebanon at our place was a game where I felt like we could build on to make a solid post season run!  York Catholic District game was a major concern, because we have flip-flopped with them the last number of years.  The team that won in the regular season, and then got beat when played in Districts!  Elijah Bynum came up big and in some ways that was the most pressure game of the year for me.  We needed a win to have a chance to move on!  It also showed we had new guys who were not afraid to step up and make plays!    Another characteristic, unique to this team, is that they responded so well to timeouts!  I am not so good at using all my timeouts, but when I do, I usually have something very direct to say!  To their credit, they more often than not rose to the occasion, even if the  execution was not always perfect, they found a way to make a play and regain momentum or stop our opponents momentum.    

2) Your team traveled to the Western part of the state for a few of your PIAA games….Was the style any different? How did you get get information on the western schools?

We don’t make many adjustments when it comes to scouting.  I try to keep the focus on “us” and “our” strengths, but it is nice to have video for players and coaches to see.  My wife and I traveled to the District 6 Championship tournament so we got to see Ligonier Valley play Richmond! – It was hard to get anything on Westinghouse, except that they had a 7′ who was really good (He was).  We had tape on Greenville because we had an arrangement with the Charter school that Greenville beat to exchange video after the Westinghouse game and to the coach’s credit he sent me video of their game even though they lost!  As far as style of play the biggest difference was in the defensive end.  We saw more zone, and a more passive approach with an emphasis on keeping the ball out of the paint as opposed to keeping it on one side or another.  Passive may not be a good word, I guess it is more of the college style defense of pressure on the ball, and everyone else getting into the paint. 

3) Has the high school changed from the time you first were head coach at LMHS to now? If so, how?

Not sure what you are looking for in that question?  I know as a coach I am more structured especially on the defense and more focused on doing a few things better and planning our system and practices around potential post-season games.  More time is spent on half court situations and less time on using a press.  As a school we are more diverse (good), and it has gotten harder to get athletes to play multiple sports(not as good).   Support from the students, to the parents, to the administrators continues to be there.    When I started we did not have any Jr. High program!  Now we have three teams!   Not many schools our size have a separate 7th grade team!

4) We heard a story about a relative providing some medical attention in a playoff game- can you share some of that story?

My son-in-law who is an emergency room doctor saved the day for us against Westinghouse.  One of our players got a serious cut on the eye lid and cheek bone area shortly into the second half, and the Altoona trainer did not feel good about letting our guy continue in the game.   It was a bigger gash than could be fixed with a band aid or butterfly.   Dr. Dave Landis came to the rescue with a small FA kit he keeps in his car that had the glue that can be used as a substitute to stitches in certain injuries.  He was given permission by the trainer and he took care of our player.  He was able to return to action and we won the game by two.

5) What advice would you give to young assistant coaches to strive to be head coaches at the High School level?

Be willing to put in the time.  You will learn more from losing than from winning. Find a way to enjoy the journey!  Stay focused on what you can control and don’t get caught up in what you can’t control.  x’s and o’s will only take you so far-communication and player buy in, especially your best players will give you the best chance of exceeding expectations.