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Kreitzer Leaving His Mark On Nanticoke Area

January 20, 2019
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Kreitzer Leaving His Mark On Nanticoke Area

NANTICOKE — He is one of the league’s most electrifying players, a record-breaking point guard who’s orchestrated some of the greatest wins at a school rich in basketball history.

But Nate Kreitzer’s career at Nanticoke Area started with the humblest of beginnings.

“You feel like you’re not supposed to be there at first,” Kreitzer recalled of his first few practices freshman year. “These guys are like grown men, you feel like. And I’m there at 5-foot-6, trying to get a shot up — and it’s getting blocked off the wall.”

With varsity minutes hard to come by, Kreitzer filled his role on Nanticoke Area’s scout team.

“During the week, they would be mimicking the opponent and he would be the opponent’s best guard,” said Nanticoke Area head coach John Beggs. “He would be the guy who shot the most shots.”

Kreitzer kept working and improving, eventually earning some varsity playing time.

During one practice, Kreitzer made four 3-pointers in a row, unfazed by the 6-footers standing on the perimeter and attempting to defend him.

“Our defense would be geared to stop him,” Beggs said. “So when we weren’t able to stop him, then we had to address that with our varsity.

“And we also knew he had something special. This young freshman could play against our best players at that time.”

Beggs’ notion that Kreitzer was “something special” proved true with Kreitzer becoming one of the best basketball players ever at Nanticoke Area.

“What I love about coaching him is our staff — and me, personally — coach him harder than anybody else. We coach him harder than anybody we ever have,” Beggs said. “We put pressure on him to lead. We coach him tough. We push him, and he embraces it.”

Kreitzer first played basketball at age four and he’s loved it ever since.

Eric Spencer coached him up in the local Biddy Basketball League.

Kreitzer elevated his game as he got older, working with coaches like John Bucci and Bill Callahan at the AAU level.

“Every day, I was either outside playing basketball or shooting in the gym or going to AAU practice,’ Kreitzer said.

It helped, too, that Kreitzer grew up in the basketball-loving community of Nanticoke Area.

The school’s tradition is not lost on Kreitzer, who touted past Trojan greats like Paul Guffrovich, the 2,000-point scorer who played at Wichita State.

“When I was in Biddy Basketball, I remember going to Biddy Night and seeing the guys on the team and they were signing my shirt,” Kreitzer said. “I always wanted to be the guy signing someone else’s shirt, as if I was a professional.”

After barely playing as a freshman, Kreitzer started on varsity as a sophomore. He stepped into a leadership role toward the end of the season.

Kreitzer engineered the come-from-behind stunner against District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic, which was Nanticoke Area’s first state playoff game since 2003.

Nanticoke Area rallied from 12 points down to win 58-56 with Kreitzer scoring a team-high 15 points. He also sealed the win with clutch takeaways and free throws in the final minutes.

“We felt like we were going to win no matter what,” Kreitzer recalled. “We did whatever it took.”

Nanticoke Area won two more PIAA Class 4A playoff games before losing in the semifinals to eventual state champion Imhotep Charter.

The Trojans returned to the hardwood in 2017-18 and ran away with the WVC Division 2 league title — an amazing accomplishment considering the team had no seniors — before earning another berth in the state tournament.

On an individual level, Kreitzer capped the season with a third-team selection to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ All-State team.

Kreitzer sees similarities between last season and this season, which is the final hurrah for senior starters and longtime teammates Kreitzer, Trahjan Krupinski and Dylan Szychowski.

“Right now, we’re still working to be the best team that we could be,” Kreitzer said. “But, like last year, we started off a little slow and then we hit that stride where we were playing incredible. I think we’re about to hit that stride right now, so it’s really good for the team to get some of those challenges in the beginning of the season.”

Misericordia, Wilkes, Susquehanna and King’s are among the schools recruiting the 5-foot-9 Kreitzer — the son of Brian and Lori Kreitzer with a brother Aaron and sister Ella — who wants to study business.

Before taking that next step, though, Kreitzer wants to win another league title and he wants to play for a district championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Kreitzer is averaging 19.9 points per game with 46 3s for Nanticoke Area (11-3).

Kreitzer, who mentions Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry as one of his favorite players, holds Nanticoke Area’s single-game record with 10 3s he hit earlier this season at Coughlin. Kreitzer previously set the record with nine 3s in a game as a junior.

Kreitzer is also the No. 1 3-point shooter in Nanticoke Area history with 199 3s in his career, including the unforgettable half-court heave he shot with 0.4 seconds left to force overtime at home last season against Tunkhannock.

The 3-point record had been held by Beggs, who made 192.

“We like to think that we have a good shooting program here. We get guys better through their career,” Beggs said. “But you can’t teach a guy like that anything. We just try to tweak things and try to give him confidence. We try to put him in good position and set some plays up for him. But his shooting is natural. For him to beat the record — and he’s going to beat the record by a bunch — is something great.”

SIGNATURE MOMENTS

March 11, 2017: Kreitzer scores 15 points and makes four free throws in the final seconds of Nanticoke Area’s 58-56 upset win against Becahi in the state tournament

Jan. 27, 2018: Kreitzer sets a Nanticoke Area single-game record with nine 3-pointers in a win against Coughlin

Feb. 13, 2018: Kreitzer makes an unforgettable halfcourt 3 at the buzzer — video on Twitter of the shot has 55,000 views — to force overtime against Tunkhannock

Feb. 27, 2018: Nanticoke Area erases a 20-point deficit to beat Wyoming Area for a state playoff berth, as Kreitzer leads the way with 25 points and three steals

Dec. 20, 2018: Kreitzer breaks his own school record with 10 3s in a win against Coughlin, which also featured him scoring his 1,000th career point

 

Contact the writer:

mbufano@citizensvoice.com;

570-821-2060; @CVBufano on Twitter

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