OLEY >> When Pete Sovia stepped away from the Upper Perkiomen girls basketball program following the 2015 season, he knew his coaching career wasn’t over.
Somewhere out there was a place for him.
A couple seasons later, Sovia has found his place and is nestled in comfortably.
On Friday, January 27, Sovia and the Kutztown High School boys basketball team dominated Oley Valley 57-41 as the Cougars continue to make one of their best runs in well over a decade.
“We’ve got a great group of young men here to work with,” said Sovia afterward. “They are very receptive to coaching, they work hard and they’re great teammates to one another. That’s made this transition really easy over the past couple of seasons.”
Sovia took over the Cougars’ boys basketball team prior to the 2015-2016 season. Before then, he served as head coach of the Brandywine Heights boys team from 1992-1997. Then got back into coaching in 2008 when he took over the Upper Perkiomen girls program.
“I’ve been around some really good, really fun teams as a coach,” he said. “I’m really glad to be a part of this team.”
Friday night’s win improves the Cougars to 6-1 in Berks Conference III (11-8 overall) and moves them another step toward posting their first above-.500 record since the 2002 season. With the loss, Oley falls to 4-3 in Berks III action and 5-13 overall — putting an end to the Lynx’ three-game win streak.
Sophomore Lorencz Jean-Baptiste scored a game-high 18 points — nine during the third quarter — while big-man Matt Angstadt battled for 17 points in the paint and knocked down a 3-ball.
“We’ve had some bad games versus Oley in the past,” said Angstadt, a junior. “So we knew we wanted to get on them early. That was huge for us.”
Brayden Eck battled for a double-double, posting 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cougars were all over Oley from the start, jumping out to a 14-4 lead by the end of the first quarter before an 18-2 six-minute run helped to eventually put them ahead 32-8 by the half.
Oley couldn’t find any rhythm during the first half. The Lynx went 4-for-10 from the free throw line, shot 0-for-7 from the 3-point line and only had seven rebounds through the first half. Things could only go up from there, right?
Utilizing their press defense, Oley picked up some pieces early on in the third, forcing turnover after turnover and converting points on nearly every possession.
“We got ourselves in too deep of a hole early on,” said Oley head coach Matthew Barrell. “It’s a shame because we played them (Kutztown) really well during the second half.”
Clark Williamson paced Oley with a team-high 14 points — 10 during the second half — while Nick Repko had 11 points off the bench with a clean 4-for-4 showing at the foul line and a 3-pointer. Nash Williamson posted all eight of his points during the second half.
Now in his sophomore season, Jean-Baptiste arrived on the scene at Kutztown simultaneously with Sovia. With just a year’s varsity experience, Jean-Baptiste looks much more like a four-year vet with the Cougars. He’s become quite a focal point on both sides of the floor while Angstadt and Eck are in charge of cleaning up down low.
“When I first came to high school, people told me what my role would be with the right from the start,” he said. “So I had to get used to that fairly quickly. I’ve learned to tone the crowd out and just focus on our team.”
The Williamson family has been at the cornerstone of the Oley Valley boys basketball team since the 2012-2013 season. The current team consists of three Williamsons — senior cousins Nash and Clark along with his brother, Galen. Not to mention, the eldest Williamson, Gray, who graduated last spring.
In his four years with the program, Barrell has always had at least one Williamson listed on his varsity roster. That doesn’t seem to be changing anytime over the next few seasons.
“There’s actually another Williamson in seventh grade right now,” said Barrell with a laugh. “That’s a great thing. They’re great kids to have on the team.”
Kutztown will host Brandywine Heights this coming Tuesday, January 31 at 6 p.m.
It won’t be the first time Sovia will be going up against his old team, but he admits, it’s still just as special.
“That’ll be a big game for us,” he said. “It’s a good natural rivalry for us. Hopefully it’s a hard-fought game. That’s the way high school basketball should be.”