NEPA Sports Nation

Revamped Wolfpack rolling early

By Tom Robinson,

Pictured above: Shelby Ardo-Boyko

WILKES-BARRE – Wilkes-Barre Area needed to overhaul its offensive approach after winning two straight District 2-4 Class 6A Subregional girls basketball titles and finishing tied for first place in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 regular season last season.

“We lost probably 89 percent of our scoring,” coach Mary Mushock-Namey said during WVC Coaches Media Day at Grotto Pizza in the final week of the preseason.

The Wolfpack, however, do not appear ready to go away.

By navigating games that were decided by one, two and four points, Wilkes-Barre Area reached holiday tournament week at 6-0, including overcoming a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter on the road to win its only division game played prior to the New Year.

With extreme balance replacing a one-two, inside-outside punch of Gloria Adjayi and Danayjha Moore that dominated the touches and the scoring last season, Wilkes-Barre Area has kept thriving after a 20-win season in 2021-22.

“I pretty much have two returning starters,” Mushock-Namey said.

Gone are three of the team’s top four scorers, including two-time, first-team division all-star Adjayi, who controlled the lane, and second-team, all-star Moore, who handled the backcourt scoring.

The Wolfpack, however, returns its other second-team, all-star, senior Shelby Ardo-Boyko.

“You can’t really count her out,” Mushock-Namey said. “She’s a fanstastic athlete, who knows how to get after it.”

That showed in the Dallas game when Ardo-Boyko only put 6 points in the scorebook, but still had a double-double with 15 rebounds and 10 steals. And, she threw in four assists during the rally in the last six minutes.

“She’s not always in the boxscore, but she does all the little things right,” Mushock-Namey said.

Senior Mackenzie Evans and junior Emma Krawczeniuk filled a starting guard spot last season with Krawczeniuk taking over after Evans suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Their return and the progress that the team’s young guards have made has meant that the scoring burden still does not need to fall on the versatile Ardo-Boyko.

Sophomore Diamond Thornton and junior Mahogany Robinson are the new backcourt options.

“We’re looking for big things from my young guards,” Mushock-Namey said.

Senior Eternity Aiken, the most experienced bench player from a year ago, has become another scoring option with Thornton and Krawczeniuk. Natalia Credle, another senior with some varsity experience, joined those three and Ardo-Boyko for the starting lineup in the WVC opener with Dallas.

Senior Katherin Brito is also contributing.

When the Wolfpack did not run last year, the first half-court option was to build around Adjayi’s significant presence in the post, whether to try to score to kick out to a shooter.

Now, there may be times when the Wolfpack just shoots.

“Not sure how many we’ll make, but that’s what they love to do,” Mushock-Namey said of the team’s willingness to put up 3-pointers.

When not firing 3s, expect the Wolfpack to be running.

“It’s probably my most athletic group,” Mushock-Namey said. “Taking Gloria out is a huge void, but hopefully makes us a lot quicker.”

Before she spoke at Media Day, Mushock-Namey listened as Tunkhannock coach Amanda Golden, who preceded her, discussed how much her team wanted to run this season.

“It’s probably our fastest team,” Mushocky-Name said, turning to Golden, “so if you guys like to run, maybe we’ll have a track meet.”

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