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Pelletier takes over Blue Raider girls basketball program

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/7/18

A 1983 Middletown Area High School graduate with more than 25 years of experience coaching high school basketball will lead the Blue Raider girls team this winter.

Robert Pelletier is the head …

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Pelletier takes over Blue Raider girls basketball program

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A 1983 Middletown Area High School graduate with more than 25 years of experience coaching high school basketball will lead the Blue Raider girls team this winter.

Robert Pelletier is the head strength and conditioning coach for Middletown Area School District, a job he will continue to do as girls basketball coach. From 2001 to 2008, he was the head girls basketball coach at Hanover High School.

“It was one of the best experiences I had, coaching girls basketball,” he said. “I like the girls that are on the team here. I’m excited to work with them.”

Pelletier also has been an assistant football coach at the high school level for about 30 years, the last six at Middletown. However, he stepped down from his position as varsity assistant and wide receivers/defensive backs coach for MAHS after last season.

Pelletier replaces Ron Stetler Jr., who led the team for four seasons and had a record of 42-45. The team lost 64-48 to York Catholic in the PIAA District III Class 3A quarterfinals last season and finished with a 9-14 record.

It was a young team, however. Only three seniors graduated: Makaila Nester, Morgan Noon and Erika Gonzalez. Last year’s team had only two juniors, with the rest freshmen and sophomores.

Kate Fitzpatrick, who will be a junior, led the team in scoring last season, averaging more than 18 points a game. She already has more than 700 points in her career.

Stetler said at the end of last season that a lack of depth hurt that team, with only 15 players trying out as the year started.

That’s something Pelletier wants to address, with a goal of 20 players trying out, five from each class.

As a health and physical education teacher at the high school, he said he knows girls who are athletes who haven’t played basketball in a few years. Some have looked like potential players at open gym sessions. He said he went through the roster of the last few middle school teams to see who might be candidates to play.

His staff will include Mike Thomas as the junior varsity coach and Scott Pettis as the varsity assistant.

“Our philosophy is basketball is a means to teach our kids about life and what they are going to face in life, the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys. Everything is a teachable moment for us,” he said.

“Some of the most influential people in my life were coaches,” he added.

As far as X’s and O’s, “everything, especially at the high school level, revolves around playing great defense,” Pelletier said.

While that defense can lead to easy baskets, he said, he also will preach patience on offense.

“I like to make it simple,” he said, with not a lot of plays to run. “The more fundamental you are, the better team you’ll be.”

He said his team goals won’t be all about wins and losses, but he said he does see the team being in districts and making the playoffs every year.

“My goal is to be competitive, every game. Obviously we want to make districts, have a good run and make it to states,” he said. “I want to be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning.”

He will sit down with the team captains going into the year and develop team goals.

“We do it together,” he said.

Other key returning players are Joci Koser, Jae Keller, Ayanna Reeves, Tiana Noon, Nakia Scott, and Caroline Gill, who was injured early last season but recently was cleared to play.

“We look forward to working with coach Pelletier in helping our girls basketball players reach their goals,” said Cliff Smith, athletic director. “He is very passionate about basketball and the students in the Middletown Area School District, and I have no doubt that he will do well in his new role.

“We are extremely thankful for the time and dedication that Ron Stetler gave to our students and the program,” he added.