2007-01-20 / Sports

Height is might for NTL Boys

John Hau John Hau In a season when height is at a premium, there were some interesting developments this week involving the Northern Tier Boys' Basketball League's two tallest players.

At Cameron County, senior center Jason Sestina (6' 5') returned to action in a limited role Wednesday night during the Red Raiders' 74-31 win over visiting Austin. Sestina, injured in the first week of the season, could figure prominently in his team's attack as the NTL passes its midpoint and postseason playoffs loom.

Meanwhile, in Coudersport, 6' 5" junior Blair Heimel, who has blossomed into one of the NTL's most prolific scorers, was sidelined Wednesday by an ankle injury that will force him to miss Friday night's game with Port Allegany and could linger into the coming week.

Coach Chris Fink hopes to have Heimel healthy for next Friday night's rematch with a dangerous Smethport team on the Hubbers' home floor. The Falcons (11-1) are fortunate to have a second dominant frontcourt performer, junior John Hau. He's another double-figure scorer who complements his six-foot-three frame with strong jumping ability.

John Barnhart (top right) brought an incredible 412 varsity basketball victories to Cameron County High School when he arrived this season to take over the Red Raider boys' team. Entering tonight, his career coaching record stands at 421-182. He and assistant Randy Cooney (bottom, left) have piloted CCHS to a 9-4 start and a certain berth in the PIAA District 9 playoffs. The Raiders are only one game behind defending champion Coudersport in the NTL standings. Juniors Jordan Crane (top, left) and Charlie Holjencin (right) have been steady performers for Barnhart, who spent 25 years coaching at Littlestown and Lebanon before a four-year stint at St. Marys Public. John Barnhart (top right) brought an incredible 412 varsity basketball victories to Cameron County High School when he arrived this season to take over the Red Raider boys' team. Entering tonight, his career coaching record stands at 421-182. He and assistant Randy Cooney (bottom, left) have piloted CCHS to a 9-4 start and a certain berth in the PIAA District 9 playoffs. The Raiders are only one game behind defending champion Coudersport in the NTL standings. Juniors Jordan Crane (top, left) and Charlie Holjencin (right) have been steady performers for Barnhart, who spent 25 years coaching at Littlestown and Lebanon before a four-year stint at St. Marys Public. S e s t i n a wasn't much of a factor in the Raiders' win over Austin (0- 15), but his return was good news to veteran coach John Barnhart in his first season at the helm for Cameron County (9-4).

B a r n h a r t gave his bench generous playing time after the hosts mounted a 17-4 first-quarter lead. Dan Sullivan led all scorers with 17 points. Jordan Crane had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Malizia asserted himself underneath with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Charlie Holjencin handed out 10 assists.

Heimel (28) and Hau (26) were the scoring leaders and combined for 21 rebounds in Coudersport's runaway 71-48 win over visiting Northern Potter Wednesday. Coach Fink was quick to praise the Falcons' teamwork, including the ability of backcourt stalwarts Derek Burdick (7 assists) and Colton Corey to feed the ball to the big boys.

Friday's results

Last Friday, Coudersport broke loose midway through the first quarter and went on to top Cameron County, 61-42, in a showdown at Emporium. The Raiders didn't have an answer for Heimel (18) or Hau (16). Coach Fink praised the work of seniors Logan Hathaway and Drew Levavasseur in controlling Crane (14 points) after the junior got off to a fast start.

Northern Potter had the hotter shooting hand in scoring a 43-30 win at Austin, despite Matt Smith's 10 points and 13 rebounds.

League Standings

Coudersport 5-0, Cameron County 4-1, Smethport 3-2, Otto-Eldred 2-3, Northern Potter 2-3, Port Allegany 2-3, Oswayo Valley 1-4, Austin 0-5.

Friday: Cameron County at Oswayo Valley, Coudersport at Port Allegany, Austin at Smethport, Northern Potter at Otto-Eldred.

Next Tuesday: Smethport at Cameron County, Otto-Eldred at Coudersport, Oswayo Valley at Austin, Port Allegany at Northern Potter.

Next Friday: Coudersport at Smethport, Otto-Eldred at Cameron County, Port Allegany at Northern Potter at OV.

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