PINE GROVE - John Kocher has been coaching boys' basketball at Valley for a long time - 17 years to be exact.
And in all that time he's never had a squad like the one that will take the floor for the Tuesday, Dec. 4 at Tyler Consolidated.
''I think this may be the best shape a team in the program has been in in a while,'' Kocher said. ''They can just go and go and go and not run out of gas.
''Hopefully, we can wear some teams down.''
Stamina is just one positive attribute Kocher believes this year's team possesses.
''We have 24 kids out in grades 9-12 and that's the most we've probably had in about five years,'' Kocher said. ''And we keep getting better every day.''
The depth will come in handy for the Lumberjacks as Kocher is looking to replace four starters.
Gone are Clay Ueltschy, Hunter Ring, Brady Nolan, Drew Wade and Jon Smallwood. Ueltschy's loss will be the most felt as he averaged 20 points per game and 10 rebounds per game last season.
''But I have three seniors back that have some varsity experience and they're really looking good so far,'' Kocher said.
There are four seniors all together - Tyler Hayes, Troy Hubbard, Jordan Anderson and Ryan Lemley.
Hayes (5-foot-9) will play a guard spot.
''He's a decent 3-point shooter,'' Kocher said. ''He's worked on his dribble drive to the basket and he's a decent defensive player.''
Hubbard (5-10), also a guard, will mainly run the point because ''he's a good ball handler.''
In Anderson (5-10), Kocher has a solid 3-point shooter. Lemley (6-6) is the ''big man.''
''We're hoping he'll be our rebounder,'' Kocher said of Lemley. ''I put him in charge of rebounding.''
Tristan Kocher is the lone junior returning. He was second in scoring and rebounding last winter.
''He's gonna be asked to do a lot,'' John Kocher said. ''Last year, he was mainly an inside player. This year he'll be asked to do a bit of both. We're gonna move him around.''
Another junior is Jack Wells (6-3), the team's sixth man a season ago and third-leading rebounder.
''He's gotten a lot stronger and his vertical leap has increased,'' John Kocher said. ''We're looking for big things from him.''
Sophomore Hayden Lancaster (6-2) and freshman Trey Street (5-9) also show plenty of promise.
''Trey's one of the most talented freshmen I've had in a while,'' John Kocher said. ''He can do it all.''
Kocher is assisted by Leslie Lively.