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SIGHTS FROM THE SIDELINES: WYALUSING'S DEPTH GIVES THEM A CHANCE TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS (2021-02-16)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
After a so-so start Wyalusing has won six straight, and are in position to both challenge for the NTL Division-II title, and take the top seed in the District IV, Class AA playoffs.

They’ve done this despite losing two starters from last year’s team, a group of players where the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. 


Though, their biggest weakness - lack of depth - limited their ceiling, they were able to maximize their ability by reaching the District IV, Class AA title game and the state playoffs.


This year’s team, though, has the potential to surpass them, as they have far more depth.


Coach Brent Keyes was reluctant to go to the bench last season, this year the scorer’s table has been like a turnstile as he finds the right combinations on the court.


“It’s nice being deep,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had this many guys. When you get in foul trouble, or a guy needs a break for a second, I don’t hesitate at all. The guys that have come in have done such a great job. It’s nice feeling to have as a coach.”


The Rams have employed a nine player rotation with Isaiah Way, Kashawn Cameron, Blake Morningstar and Nolan Oswalt supporting starters Grayden Cobb, Mitchell Burke, Lucas Milne, Hunter Moss and Abram Bennett.


Way, in particular, as become a revelation as a sixth man. He can score in a lot of different ways, while using his size and athleticism to defend the paint and rebound.


“I’m very excited,” Way said about the season. “We’re getting better every practice that we have. We’re focusing on team chemistry, and it’s working out for us pretty well so far.”


He’s the team’s second leading scorer but doesn’t mind coming off the bench.


“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I know they have all their spots, they’ve worked so hard for their spots before I was on the team again. It doesn’t matter to me as long as we get the win.”


As for why he came, Way said ‘I got the call to comeback.’


“I just missed the game,” he said. “I saw they’d been playing - and I just. Missed the game so much.”


Him and Cameron have been great at giving the team a jolt if they start slow.


“I can’t believe how well they’re playing,” said Keyes. “I don’t know how many kids can take a year off from a sport, and come back and play as well as they have. Most importantly, they’ve been so enjoyable to be around, and have really bought into what we want to do. They really love being back.”


While Cameron doesn’t score as much Way he’s been just as invaluable.


“Kashawn does a lot of little things,” explained Keyes. “He’s really gotten smart defensively, and uses his athleticism really well.”


Internal improvement has been key, too. Cobb, an off the ball shooter last season, has taken over at point guard, and thrived with the ball in his hands.


Hunter Moss, a deep rotation player a year ago, has done well as a starter, while sophomore Blake Morningstar has had big moments off the bench.


“Hunter plays really hard,” said Keyes. “He’ll get in there and make some shots, but he’s got a little toughness about him. He doesn’t mind going to the rim, doesn’t mind getting in there, and helping us get stops, and getting rebounds, so he’s awesome to have.”


Morningstar, their tallest player at 6-foot, 4-inches, gives them an added dimension they didn’t have a year ago, size at the rim.


“Blake’s got a lot of potential,” said Keyes. “We’re just trying to get him to tap into that, and focus in. He’s come a long way, he’s got a chance to be a nice player us.”


Sometimes with depth comes fights over playing time, but Keyes says that hasn’t been an issue.


“They just don’t care,” he remarked. “As long as they can come in and contribute. They’re playing for each other.”


Way believes they’re reaching the type of play the team saw last year in their run to the district title game.


“I feel like the team is at its most efficient right now,” he said.


And this time he’s glad to be along for the ride.


“It feels very good to be a part of that,” remarked Way. “I’m really grateful.”



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