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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
The Varsity blog is the 2013 winner of an international EPPY award for best sports blog. EPPYs are awarded to media-affiliated websites by Editor & Publisher, an industry trade publication. Varsity is primarily maintained by Times-News sports writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik.   Read more about this blog.
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Fall Fastbreak – Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats
Boys
Coach (season): Mike Coletta (1st season)
2011-12 overall record: 11-11
2011-12 region record (place): 5-5 (tied for third)
2011-12 playoff results: Lost to Fairview 48-41 in a District 10 Class AA play-in game.
Top players lost: Jon Cook, Aaron Morley, Josh Niedermeyer
Top returning players: Kyle McKeen, Grant Panko
Assistant coaches: Zane Meeder, Pat LaFuria, Guy Shinko
Outlook: Northwestern made strides last winter by making the postseason. New head coach Mike Coletta is looking to take the Wildcats a step further and contend for the District 10 championship. Coletta spent the past five years learning from coach Tom Pyle at North East and is looking to make a splash right away. The Wildcats have some holes to fill with the graduation of John Cook, Aaron Morley and Josh Niedermeyer. Cook was voted to the all-region second team last year, while Morley and Niedermeyer were big-time contributors as well. The Wildcats have some experience back in standouts Kyle McKeen and Grant Panko and Northwestern could also receive contributions from sophomore Corey Shinko. The Wildcats won’t be short on guards and speed this season but size and experience could be issues. Northwestern could be more a of a run-and-gun team to make up for the lack of height and the Wildcats will need to battle on the boards as well. Northwestern is in a wide-open class in Class AA and if the Wildcats buy into a new system and develop some younger players, they could be in the mix for the region and district titles.

Schedule
December
7-8 Cambridge Springs tournament
11 Corry 7:30
14 Conneaut 7:30
21 at Union City* 7:30
27-28 Northwestern tournament
January
3 Mercyhurst Prep* 7:30
5 at Fairview* 7:30
8 Titusville* 7:30
11 at Iroquois* 7:30
15 at North East* 7:30
18 Seneca* 7:30
22 Union City* 7:30
24 at Mercer 7:30
26 at Reynolds 7:30
29 at Mercyhurst Prep* 7:30
February
1 Fairview* 7:30
5 at Titusville* 7:30
8 Iroquois* 7:30
12 North East* 7:30
15 at Seneca* 7:30
*Region 4 games

Girls
Coach (season): Karen Sewell (6th season)
2011-12 overall record: 10-12
2011-12 region record (place): 6-8 (fifth)
2011-12 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 Class AA playoffs.
Top players lost: Haley Schaef, Izzy McKean, Megan Alward
Top returning players: Carolyn Kaufer, Cassidy Taylor, Brittany McLaughlin
Assistant coaches: Steve Sawin, Carla McKenna, John Shade
Outlook: Northwestern just missed out on the playoffs last year and will need to replace some key players to make a run at the postseason this winter. The Wildcats graduated leading scorer Haley Schaef, leading rebounder Izzy McKean and Megan Alward, who paced Northwestern in steals last year. The Wildcats returns two starters in Teresa Wheeler and Katie Shade along with senior leaders Carolyn Kaufer, Cassidy Taylor and Brittany McLaughlin. The returning group could receive big contributions from freshmen Sara Morini and Meghan Yearwood. Northwestern has a lot of quick guards and could keep up with the region powers up and down the floor. A big issue could be size underneath the hoop. The Wildcats have the ability to hang with their region opponents but building chemistry and coming together as a team will determine if Northwestern is contending for the postseason or missing out this winter.

Schedule
December
11 at Reynolds 7:30
13 Titusville 7:30
17 at Corry 7:30
20 at North East* 7:30
27-28 Iroqouois tournament
January
3 Girard* 7:30
4 Maplewood 7:30
7 at Iroquois* 7:30
9 Cambridge Springs 7:30
10 Union City* 7:30
14 at Seneca* 7:30
17 Fairview* 7:30
21 General McLane* 7:30
24 North East* 7:30
28 at Girard* 7:30
31 Iroquois* 7:30
February
4 at Union City* 7:30
7 Seneca* 7:30
11 at Fairview* 7:30
14 at General McLane* 7:30
*Region 4 games

Tuesday: Oil City

–Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Basketball, Fall Fastbreak

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