Don’t expect to hear any excuses about Abington Heights over the next few weeks.
The challenge for the Comets’ boys basketball team is to keep building on the good wins and make certain that the lessons that are learned early in the season are remembered when the district and state playoffs begin in earnest in a few weeks.
So says Comets senior guard Tommy Rothenberger, a first-year starter who has gotten off to a strong start this season.
“Most of the games, I’d say yes,” Rothenberger said about playing to expectations. “We’ve had some trouble in some games, but we have to work out these kinks in practice, and hope to play well in the rest of our games and in the playoffs.
The 5-foot-7 Rothenberger said he embraced the enhancements the Comets coaching staff wanted from him.
“I think he wanted me to practice my shot and finish on the rim, because coming into the season, he trusted me with the ball-handling I had in the playoff games last year, that I handled that pressure,” Rothenberger said. “If added my shot to my game, then I could contribute on offense.”
Making the move to starting point guard was high on his list of worries, but the senior has done a good job so far.
“It was a tiny adjustment. I was in the eight-man rotation last year, so I got to play with these guys,” Rothenberger said. “I’ve been playing with Seth (Maxwell) all my life, with Jackson (Danzig) a lot, so once I developed that chemistry, it was an easy adjustment.”
A tough schedule set the tone for the season: Snooze, you lose.
“There is room for improvement. We need to start hitting our stride and start really playing well as a team over the next couple of games that because soon it’s going to be one loss and you’re done,” Rothenberger said. “We’re trying to get better every day and be the best team we can be, because we know we can compete for that district (Class 5A) championship and possibly win it.”
The Comets are no strangers to a tough schedule against big schools from around the state.
“We played LaSalle College and Williamsport. As a team we played well, but we let one get away against Williamsport; we didn’t rebound that well,” Rothenberger said. “That was an early game, and we’ve improved since then.
“Those early games were good games to let us know where we’re at. It’s good to be in a tight game. We played better against LaSalle College, handled the pressure and were able to win the game.”
Losses sting Rothenberger, but he realizes what the big picture is.
“I wouldn’t say it didn’t hurt as much, but we schedule those games for December so come February and March, we can be ready for the talent and the competition we don’t see during the regular-season,” Rothenberger said. “It’s good to schedule those games, but they don’t really mean anything if you don’t perform well. The goal is always to try to win those games and compete with the best teams out of the area.”
At Abington Heights, a school whose sports programs have had teams this century reach the state semifinals in soccer, tennis, softball, and basketball, and won a state title in baseball – among its’ three semifinal teams – its athletes understand what it takes to do so well.
“It applies to all sports; that once you get down, you learn to battle back,” Rothenberger said. “That translates to all sports, in all phases of the game. Working hard, and being able to play with new teammates in each sport, that is something that goes on to the next sport.”
That’s the kind of spirit the likes of Rothenberger have for themselves, their teammates, coaches and fans.