By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
WILKES-BARRE – Mike Day has been aware in recent seasons that the end of Coughlin sports – and perhaps his career as a head boys basketball coach – was out there somewhere on the horizon.
“I’ve enjoyed being a part of this,” Day said at Sunday’s WVC Media Day. “I always knew this was going to end. They were supposed to knock down Coughlin two years ago, so I knew the end was near.
“The last 2-3 years, I tried to enjoy the kids and enjoy the competition.”
Day would like to take the Crusaders out in style after they were 0-16 in the Wyoming Valley Conference last year and were the only team not to qualify for the District 2 Class 5A playoffs because their 2-20 overall record left them last in a nine-team race.
Coughlin has experience, a larger roster in terms of size and total numbers and could get a boost from both additions within the school and through transfers.
“The positive is we’re bigger than we’ve been in the past and we’re more experienced,” Day said while assessing what could be a 29-man combined varsity/JV roster if everybody is cleared. “We do have a lot of guys. We have five transfers – two that could help us right away once they’re cleared.”
The Crusaders return three of last season’s top four scorers – seniors Anthony Egidio, Aaron Bennett and Jahsim Hall.
“We have almost everyone back,” Day said. “It will be nice this year that our first five will be all seniors and juniors, so we won’t be at a disadvantage.”
Shawn Valenzuela, a junior who has been getting playing time since coming up as a freshman, could join them in the starting lineup along with another junior, 6-foot-3 Salem Diop.
“Diop is a guy we’ve been trying to get out forever,” Day said. “He’s finally out this year. He’s a football player.”
The first two players off the bench could be sophomores Matt Egidio and Trent Zavada, who each saw significant playing time last season.
Brandon Hall, an athletic 6-3 sophomore, and Elijah Henry, a 6-3 junior, are transfers that Day is hoping to be able to use.
Freshman Prince Allen could also work his way into the mix.
The athletic programs of Coughlin, Meyers and GAR are being merged into one Wilkes-Barre Area School District team at the end of this school year.
Day said when the season is over, he could become an official, an assistant coach or just take the game in as a parent. His son, Joseph, joins Allen as the two freshmen on the Coughlin roster.