It has not been easy going for the Fleetwood High School boys’ basketball team. They have gone winless in the Berks League the past two seasons, and only had one league win in the 2009-10 season.
The goal now is to turn that around. They will start over this year with a lot of younger players, a new division and a new head coach.
Terry Sitler will take over as the new head coach and he is no stranger to turning around struggling programs. In 1994, he took over a Brandywine Heights High School girls’ basketball team that was in the midst of a 56 game losing streak.
He coached that team for 12 years, going 33-106 his first six years, and 94-61 his last six.
Since 2006 he has been the head coach of BC United, an elite boys’ AAU team made up of some of the best players in the county. He is a very good coach that can make a winner out of this program.
Fleetwood fans may need to be patient, because it won’t happen overnight. He has a young team that has know nothing but losing at Fleetwood. That is a hard thing to overcome.
“Our team is working very hard and is cautiously optimistic that significant improvements can and will be made over the last few years,” said Coach Sitler. “Like any new program that hires a new coach, there will be a learning curve for both the players and the coach, but our work to date has definitely shortened that curve.
“Our team is a mystery this year as people have no idea what to expect from us. I feel we will be overlooked by many and will surprise even more.”On the plus side, there is some size on the team. They had three starters that are 6’-3” or taller. That includes big man Kyle Flannery who tops off at 6’-7” and runs the floor well. They will also have some speed which will help make up for some other problems.
Also, Coach Sitler likes the attitude his team has, even through all of the recent losing. “The players have the determination to make themselves a better team, to change the recent perception of Fleetwood boys’basketball.”
Coming back from last year’s team is seniors Stephen Hilborn (Sr., 6’-2”); Jeff Estima (Sr., 5’-6”); Ryan Steward (Sr., 5’-6”); George Ortiz (Sr., 5’-9”); Kyle Flannery (Jr., 6’-7”); Brian Schumacher (Jr. 6’-4”); Clay Weidenmoyer (Jr., 6’-3”); Wes Hawkins (Jr., 6’-1”); Andrew Moran (Jr., 6’-2”); and Jarred Reasor (Soph., 5’-8”).
Of course the biggest change is the change in divisions. The league is going from four to three divisions. Last year Fleetwood was in Division 2 along with Muhlenberg, Daniel Boone, Conrad Weiser and Twin Valley.
This year they will still be in Division 2, along with Berks Catholic, Fleetwood, Hamburg, Schuylkill Valley and Twin Valley. The good news is that they will cross over with the smaller schools in Division 3 and will not have to play the bigger schools like Reading, Wilson and Exeter.
“This in itself will be a benefit to our growing program,” said Sitler.
Nobody is expecting this team to win the division. Things are not going to turn around that quickly. But there will be several more modest goals for the team this year.
“1. “Seeing team and individual progress from day to day, practice to practice and game to game – every individual player should show marketed improvement from the first practice to the last game.
2. “Increase the overall reputation/perception of the program (internally and externally). The team will exhibit professional behavior both on and off the court, in addition the team will be involved in various community service projects to increase their visibility (would like to contact you for coverage of our community service if this is something you would be interested in).
3.”Be very competitive in every game.
4.“Compete for both county and district playoff berths.”
The team will have to get used to a new coach and learn a new system, so much will depend on how fast they can make those adjustments.
A possible starting line-up will consist of a sophomore, three juniors and one senior. It will be a young team with lots of learning going on. But it could be the start of something big for the program.