WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — With the confetti falling, the Wyoming Valley Clutch celebrated a championship this past weekend. The Clutch beat the Baltimore Hawks in the ABA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Title Game.
"Love to see my players happy," Clutch Head Coach Jerry Rickrode said. "Obviously, winning is a lot of fun. A lot of these guys were competitors in high school and after high school and now they’re getting to play together and I think they could be good for a while."
”Winning the regional championship was the culmination of five years of hard work, dreams that we put down on paper five years ago," Clutch guard Dave Jannuzzi added.
All leading up to a clutch moment for the Clutch, who now advance to the ABA’s Elite Eight. Validation not only for former Wilkes coach Jerry Rickrode, but also for his former star player, Meyers’ grad Dave Jannuzzi.
”The ABA, it’s a professional basketball league, the biggest in the entire country, 170 plus teams, and we’re going to be one of the final eight," Jannuzzi said.
The Clutch play their home games right here at the Wilkes-Barre CYC. The Elite Eight? That’s all the way out in St. Louis, Missouri in mid-April, but the Clutch say they expect to go out there and win.
”To be honest with you, Landon, I think we’re pretty battle-tested for the Elite Eight," Rickrode said. "We finished the regular season ranked second in the country and I think we’ve got a lot of confidence going in.”
”We’re number two, Binghamton’s number one," Jannuzzi explained. "We were fortunate enough to beat them one out of two times. Baltimore historically has been one of the best teams in the ABA, third this year. You think to yourself, ‘do we have a shot to win the national championship?’ Well, if we beat the number one team and we beat the number three team according to the ABA national rankings, you’ve got to like your chances to try to bring home a national championship to the valley.”