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Butczynski’s Big Shot Preserves Nanticoke Area’s Title Hopes

February 26, 2019
Butczynski’s Big Shot Preserves Nanticoke Area’s Title Hopes

NANTICOKE — It’s a close game. Just a few seconds left on the clock. The team needs you to make this shot. Neighbors Nate Kreitzer and Colby Butczynski played this situation out in the backyard countless times while growing up in Nanticoke. Sometimes, Kreitzer would take the shot. That, or he’d be masquerading as Stephen Curry. Other times, the game was in Butczynski’s hands, as he pretended to be LeBron James. “If we missed,” Butczynski said, “we’d keep on going until one of us made it.” For most, that childhood fantasy remains just that — a fantasy — but Kreitzer and Butczynski brought it to life Saturday night at King’s College. However, make or miss, there would be no do-overs in Nanticoke Area’s District 2 Class 4A semifinal against Tunkhannock. Down 48-46 in the final seconds, Nanticoke Area ran its offense hoping to tie the game. “We were trying to get a quick slip to the basket,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “They defended it well.” Plan B was to simply get a good look, even if it meant shooting a 3-pointer. Kreitzer, an all-state point guard, just so happens to be the Trojans’ all-time leader in 3s and he had the ball at the left wing. But Tunkhannock defenders were all over Kreitzer, who shouldered past two Tigers and allowed himself enough room to pass. “Nate drew a lot of attention — as he always does — made a great read, and kicked it to Colby,” Beggs said. “And Colby stepped into the shot.” Butczynski caught the ball beyond the top of the arc and immediately shot it, making a nothing-but-net 3 that put the Trojans ahead for a 49-48 win. “My teammates and my coaches gave me all the confidence in the world to take that shot,” said Butczynski, who missed all four 3s he’d taken before the game-winner. “I give all the credit to them.” With the win, Nanticoke Area earned a spot in the state tournament, as well as a meeting 4 p.m. Saturday against Scranton Prep for the district championship at Mohegan Sun Arena. It is Nanticoke Area’s boys’ first district title appearance since the games were moved in 2016 to the home of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. “I don’t think we’re really going to know the emotions until we step on the floor,” said Kreitzer, a senior. “So, right now, we’re excited for it. I still can’t believe Colby hit that shot to go there.” Nanticoke Area has had a flair for the dramatic in recent years, playing in — and winning — some of the most memorable and exciting games involving teams in District 2. “That Nanticoke grit, I guess you could say,” Kreitzer explained. “We just get it done when it needs to be done.” Last year, when Nanticoke Area eliminated Meyers from the District 2 playoffs, the Trojans were down 48-47 when Jake Krupinski rattled in a game-winning 3. Once again, it was Kreitzer who found Krupinski and assisted the winning bucket. “We’re a brotherhood,” Kreitzer said. “It’s not about who hits the shot, it’s that we did it as a team. Colby’s the one who knocked it down; Jake last year; and it’s the same reaction after the game. Everyone’s excited for the player who hit it. It’s not like I wanted to get my shot or anything, it’s not like anyone wanted to take ‘their shot.’ It’s just about us getting it done, together.” Kreitzer scored a game-high 15 points for the Trojans against Tunkhannock, while Butczynski and Krupinski added 12 points each. Seniors Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski combined to score the rest of Nanticoke Area’s 10 points in a game where, clearly, every point mattered. BIG SHOTS March 11, 2017: Cody Piestrak 14 points in second half of comeback win, 58-56, against Bethlehem Catholic in PIAA 4A first round March 19, 2017: Trojans make 11 3s in 78-62 win against West Philadelphia in PIAA 4A quarterfinals Feb. 13, 2018: Nate Kreitzer half-court 3 at buzzer, forcing overtime against Tunkhannock Feb. 21, 2018: Jake Krupinski 3 for 50-48 win against Meyers in D2 4A quarterfinals Feb. 23, 2019: Colby Butczynski 3 for 49-48 win against Tunkhannock in D2 4A semifinals Contact the writer: mbufano@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter