Hampton looks for balance behind top scorer Peter Kramer
Sunday, November 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM
Hampton boys basketball coach Joe Lafko called it the “X factor” this season.
Coming off a 24-win season, the Talbots are looking for complementary scorers behind star senior guard Peter Kramer.
Hampton lost first-team all-section guard Eric Weeks, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game, and three-year starting point guard Brennan Murray (8.7 ppg) to graduation, leaving some offensive question marks in the backcourt.
“That’s the X factor,” Lafko said. “Right now I think (first-year starter) Alex Nyilas is moving into that role on the perimeter. But Robert Coll and Liam Mignogna are four-year lettermen and they will be looked to to get some additional scoring from them.”
Kramer is the clear catalyst behind the Talbots’ offense. The 6-foot-4 Lehigh recruit averaged 18.5 points last season, highlighted by a handful of 30-point outbursts, as Hampton won its first section title since 2011. The 1,000-point career scorer added 4.5 rebounds and three assists per game on the way to earning unanimous first-team all-section honors and a spot on the TribLive Boys Basketball Terrific 10.
With Kramer ineligible for the 2022-23 postseason after transferring from Shady Side Academy, his teammates spread around some scoring as the Talbots reached the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals and earned their first PIAA playoff victory since 2014.
While Weeks was the Talbots’ top scorer in the Kramer-less postseason, Mignogna and Coll showed some offensive promise. Mignogna, a senior forward who last season averaged 9.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, scored 16 points against Uniontown and 14 against Blackhawk in WPIAL playoff wins. Coll, a senior forward who averaged 7.9 points, scored 16 against both Blackhawk and Grove City.
At 6-9, 240 pounds, Mignogna is one of the biggest players in the WPIAL Class 4A, but he is still trying to reach his potential on the offensive end.
“I think he’s excited for his senior year,” Lafko said. “Sometimes with him, it’s a matter of his motor and how quickly he wants to play. When he does play with a little bit of intensity, he can be a load to deal with.”
Kramer is always a challenge to guard. He is eligible for this postseason and with the top four teams in the six-team Section 1-4A qualifying for the playoffs, the Talbots are a good bet to reach the WPIAL tournament for the 20th consecutive season.
“He just continues to gain confidence in his skill levels,” Lafko said of Kramer.
Returnees Kramer, Coll and Mignogna are joined by a pair of first-year starters, senior point guard AJ Prodente and senior shooting guard Nyilas.
“I think all five of us can score,” said Mignogna, who is back to full strength after missing six weeks in the summer with an ankle injury. “I think (our strengths are) our size and physicality and our length. We’re long and I think we can get up and down the floor on teams.”
Lafko said Nyilas (2.6 ppg) and Prodente (0.8 ppg) each had a strong summer and he’s confident they can make seamless transitions to full-time varsity roles.
“They both have had opportunities to play in the offseason,” Lafko said. “They were able to compete and continue to build and develop with the team. You can see it paying off right now.”
The all-senior lineup is encouraging for Lafko, who is 523-326 in 33 seasons, including the past 27 at Hampton. The Talbots are expected to challenge Highlands and Knoch for the top spot in Section 1-4A.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can score,” Kramer said. “We definitely have a lot of good options on offense.”
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