It’s game time.

The expansion Wyoming Valley Clutch will play its first regular season home game 7 p.m. tonight at the Wyoming Valley CYC in Wilkes-Barre, which is the home gym for the area’s newest semi-professional basketball team.

The Clutch are owned by local basketball greats Chris Shovlin (GAR, Wilkes) and Dave Jannuzzi (Meyers, Wilkes), are coached by Jerry Rickrode, and are a member of the American Basketball Association.

“Clutch will play a controlled up-tempo, fast-paced, passing-oriented style — high-flying, very fan-appealing pace of play,” Shovlin and Jannuzzi wrote in an email. “We go 12 to 13 players deep and all are capable of contributing to the team’s success.”

Tonight’s game against the Philly Cannons, scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m., is the only chance to see the Clutch at home in November.

The bulk of the season will be played in the winter with six home games in December, four in January, three in February, and one in March.

Here are a few storylines to follow as the season unfolds:

Big basketball names

One look at the roster shows a number of players who are well-known in local basketball circles.

Beyond Shovlin, Jannuzzi and Rickrode, Peter Alexis is the name that stands out the most.

The team’s tallest player at 6-foot-10, Alexis scored more than 2,000 points with 1,100-plus rebounds for Holy Redeemer High School.

Alexis was a three-star recruit and briefly attended Penn State. He graduated from Philadelphia University, where he ranked second in career blocks, third in rebounds and fourth in scoring.

“We brought Peter Alexis on board to take our team to the next level,” Shovlin and Jannuzzi said. “He had a great college career at Philadelphia University, followed by a very successful season overseas. We expect Pete to be a powerful force for our team, a player that is capable of dominating a game from minute one to minute 48.”

Guards Larry Anderscavage and Jamie Calloway played for Valley West and are familiar with the ABA, having each spent last season with the Binghamton Bulldogs.

Mason Gross (Pittston Area) and Tyriek Steward (Meyers) were each Citizens’ Voice all-stars in their 2013-14 senior season. The list goes on.

Familiar foes

The Clutch are a member of the ABA’s East Region and Southwest Division.

The Scranton Shamrocks, NEPA Stars & Stripes, Binghamton Bulldogs and Philly Cannons are among the other teams in the Southwest Division.

The Clutch played two exhibition games and won them both, beating Binghamton and Lancaster.

What is the ABA?

The original version of the ABA lasted from 1967 through 1976, when it merged with the NBA.

This version of the ABA was re-established in 1999 and has dozens of teams across the U.S., as its website lists teams broken down into six regions as far west as San Diego, south as Jacksonville, and practically everywhere in between.

It is a semi-pro league with paid contracts and many ex-college players, but it’s not considered on the same level as the NBA G League, which is the NBA’s official minor league outfit.

Giving back

According to Shovlin and Jannuzzi, the Clutch wants to be much more than just a basketball team.

The Clutch plan to hold several community events, including a Meet the Players night at Rodano’s on Public Square from 8 to 10 p.m. Nov. 30.

The team plans on running three free camps (grades 1 through 12) throughout the season, the first of which was last month, the second is from 9 to 11 a.m. today, and the final is to be announced.

“We will also have various community-friendly events throughout the season,” Jannuzzi and Shovlin wrote. “Our first was a Trunk or Treat, prior to last Saturday’s preseason game. We are looking at doing a Thanksgiving and Christmas event, as well, at no cost to the community. We feel our role will be one of positive change in the area.”

Contact the writer:

[email protected];


@CVBufano on Twitter

Source: The Associated Press

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