Lorenz, Coder lead the way in Tigers’ record season

COCOLAMUS – A good way to stay warm this winter may be to burn all the East Juniata boys basketball record books.

For the third consecutive season, the Tigers broke the school’s single-season wins record, going 21-0 and finishing with the only undefeated regular season in school history.

They also captured their first Tri-Valley League title in school history.

Two seniors also made their mark during East Juniata’s historic season. Nick Lorenz and Bailey Coder became the sixth and seventh players in school history to surpass 1,000 points in their careers and the only teammates to do so. Lorenz moved to the top of the school’s scoring ladder, beating a mark set in 1962.

It all started five years ago when coach Brock Anders and assistant Steve Madden led Lorenz and Coder as eighth graders with an AAU team. Anders said they saw the potential in the two boys.

In 2010-11, Anders’ third season at the helm and Lorenz’s and Coder’s freshman year, the team won just seven games.

Three years later, they tripled that total after years of refining their games and developing as players.

“Their personal accomplishments are a tribute to their work ethic and dedication to the program.” Anders said. “They have pushed each other to be better basketball players and have responded to every challenge they have encountered. As a coaching staff we are proud of what these two young men have accomplished on the floor but more importantly the development and leadership they have shown off the floor has set a foundation for our program.”

The first of many proud moments for the duo came on Dec 13, 2013, win over Upper Dauphin when Lorenz scored his 1,000th point.

That night was when Lorenz saw bigger things in the forecast, calling his personal achievement a “stepping stone” for things to come both for himself and the team.

He was proved right on Jan 27, when he became the school’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Charles Sieber’s mark of 1,360 points, which stood for 52 years.

Lorenz finished the regular season with 1,487 career points.

“Nick is one of the most complete players that I have coached and seen in a very long time,” Anders said. “He is often over looked for his defense and ability to pass. With Nick’s scoring, rebounding and assist statistics over the four years, he would also be at the top of most all-around players in EJ history.”

Coder scored his 1,000th point on Feb. 6 and currently sits in fifth place in the record book with 1,085 points. He could move up a spot if the Tigers last in the postseason.

Lorenz averaged 24.5 points per game in 2013-14, a jump of over three points per game from last season when he was a third-team all-state selection while Coder improved from 11.8 points per game to 20.7, nearly doubling his average.

“Bailey has worked very hard in his four years to develop into a well-rounded player,” Anders said. “I was particularly hard on Bailey early in his career as I had high expectations for him. He has responded very well and this year shows the kind of talented player he has become.”

“The coaching staff definitely helped,” Coder said. “I was definitely really raw coming out of junior high. They helped me get a lot better with my footwork and everything.”

Fellow seniors David Brantley and Jeremy Pannebaker also took part in the three best seasons in school history, joining Coder and Lorenz to form the winningest class in school history.

The play of Brantley, Pannebaker, sophomore point guard Jake Sankey and junior wing Chas Maguire has lifted the Tigers at other times during the year.

Brantley is East Juniata’s strongest man-to-man defender and often takes the opposition’s best scorer. One of his best effort on the defensive end came in a December home win over Halifax when he shutdown its leading scorer Koby Bowman.

“I think David’s ability is that he’s very agile and quick,” Anders said after Brantley’s performace that night. “He’s relentless on the ball-handler and keeping him from getting to the spots on the floor that he wants to. We knew coming into the game that Bowman was going to be tough. I thought David did a whale of a job tonight keeping him under control.”

Maguire’s biggest impact of the season came in one of the Tigers’ toughest games, a 49-47 win at Mount Union.

Mount Union forward Trevon Walker held Coder to a very quiet 11 points and Lorenz fouled out with 6:37 to play.

Maguire stepped up to make three huge 3-pointers, including one as time expired in the first quarter, a major swing in the two-point win.

“This win solely comes back to the role guys and guys stepping up and making plays at the end of the basketball game,” Anders said after the Mount Union game. “When you lose a team captain, a leader, a leading scorer, on the floor. Our guys were able to overcome a lot of adversity. It’s a tribute to our guys and how hard they work.”

Sankey has run a successful ship all season as the point guard and has made some critical plays on both the offensive and defensive end.

“Jake is a player that every coach wants on his team,” Anders said. “Jake does not get credit for all the little things he has done over the past two years. Jake has been a steady floor general for this team. He defends very well and has a fierce competitive edge.”

Pannebaker has performed well as the sixth man for East Juniata, coming off the bench to spell Sankey or Maguire.

The Tigers have won in different ways, like with just 39 points in a defensive battle with Greenwood, with 74 in a double-overtime thriller with rival Juniata and with 92 and 91 in wins over Line Mountain and Juniata.

“The players this year have become great students of the game,” Anders said. “They have listened to the coaching staff and applied all of our game plans. Our defense has been the biggest key for our success in the lower scoring style of games.”

It’s been a total team effort for East Juniata, led by two of the finest individual seasons in school history in Lorenz and Coder.

It’s been a long ride for the coach and players after winning just seven games when Lorenz, Coder and Pannebaker were thrown into the fire as freshman.

“These players have a focus and are driven,” Anders said. “They remember the early years of my tenure and use that as motivation every night. This is a talented, hard working and respectful group of young men that deserve the credit for all they have accomplished thus far and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”