With first-year coach Jason Nese out on what athletic director Harry Powell described as a three-week medical leave, Christian Sunseri took over as head boys basketball coach and inserted freshman Ronnie Traver in the starting lineup while making some other more subtle changes.
After winning just twice in December, the Lions picked up three wins in the first 11 days of January, moving into a share of the early Lackawanna League Division 4 lead.
The Lions started 3-0 in the division, including winning their only home league game to date on Friday, Jan. 10, when they stopped visiting Forest City, 57-49.
Tyler Rzucidlo led the way with 18 points, including nine in the third quarter when the 5-foot-6 junior guard worked his way through the lane from a variety of angles.
Rzucidlo scored seven straight points to begin a game-breaking, 13-1 run that produced the biggest lead of the night, 39-21, with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
“We looked to spread the floor a bit,” said Sunseri, who began the season as head junior varsity coach and varsity assistant, roles he is scheduled to return to after coaching the team for the final time Jan. 21 against Montrose. “ … We started finding our teammates in the post.”
“It’s all about a team mentality,” the coach added
After Noah Fedak opened the second half with a 3-pointer for the Foresters to cut the Trail lead to 26-20, Rzucidlo hit a 10-footer in the lane, then drew a foul for a three-point play while scoring again in the paint. He cut through the middle to convert an Aiden Holmes pass into a 33-20 lead, then finished the 11-point streak by taking a Traver pass for another easy basket.
Ross Fauquier scored during the streak and, following a Forest City free throw, added another basket off a rebound and spin move to complete the outburst.
Fauquier had 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
“We’re starting to get comfortable in the offense,” said Sunseri, who was given leeway to make some changes in his time as interim head coach and said he also kept some things the same. “Things are starting to pick up now. They understand the sets and their roles in the offense.”
Brian Mitteer scored seven points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Lions, who won the league opener against Susquehanna and followed up the win over Forest City by going to Mountain View for another victory the next night.
Steve Scioscia and John Kwiatkowski came off the bench to add eight points each.
Trail scored the first seven points and never trailed. Scioscia provided four points and five rebounds during the second quarter to help the Lions maintain a nine-point edge going into the half.
Forest City, which got 17 points each from Fedak and Matt Nevins, rallied to get as close as 48-42 with 1:46 left.
Trail was scheduled to play for first place Tuesday night at home against unbeaten defending champion Elk Lake. That game occurred after this edition’s deadline. See TheAbingtonJournal.com for results.