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




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.