Cougar cage star Kringe to be enshrined in HA Sports Hall of Fame

info sent by dave burman, 3/20/11
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Terry Kringe's eye-popping numbers and individual accolades merit his inclusion in discussion of the Hazleton area's all-time best basketball players.

However, his remarkable consistency, his uncanny poise under pressure, Hazleton Area High School's unprecedented success with him as the starting point guard and his productive career at Northeastern University were just as important in earning Kringe his permanent place in the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame. He was one of 14 individuals inducted during a banquet on Sept. 19 at Genetti's Ballrooms.

His 1992-93 team, the very first Cougar team which advanced all the way to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game, also was enshrined.

Kringe, the only four-year starter in the Cougars' proud history, was a gangly freshman when head coach Bruce Leib inserted him into a starting lineup with Hazleton High holdovers Chris Long, John Dacostino, Hassan Abdullah and Paul Shershen in December 1992.

Together, they led a newly formed student body and area basketball fanatics on an unforgettable journey that old-timers hadn't seen since the 1940s.

After dropping their first game to Carlisle, the Cougars ran off 29 straight wins, including two white-knucklers over Wyoming Valley Conference rival Bishop Hoban which all but assured them of WVC Division I supremacy, a 20-point rout of Tunkhannock for the District 2 title and impressive interdistrict victories over Upper Darby, Lancaster McCaskey, Upper Merion and Chester.

A 41-30 loss to Erie Cathedral Prep in the PIAA final spoiled their state title dreams, but it didn't diminish their accomplishments.

Although Kringe's primary role that season was to distribute the ball to his more experienced teammates, the freshman made his presence felt at more than a few key moments. He made the game-winning basket and game-saving steal in overtime against Bishop Hoban before a packed house of 3,500-plus, probably the largest crowd ever to watch the Cougars at HAHS.

Fast forward to the Class 4A Eastern final, when Kringe penetrated the heart of Chester's trapping defense and delivered a clutch three-point play late in the fourth quarter of a tummmy-turning 48-47 win.

As his game evolved over the next three seasons, Kringe displayed more and more of his offensive repertoire while he continued to direct the Cougars' offense and maintain his defensive tenacity. His leadership skills also quietly began to bubble to the surface.


Bishop Hoban outlasted Kringe and the Cougars for the WVC crown during his sophomore season, when he earned all-conference first-team recognition for the first time. They then hit their stride during the District 2 playoffs, repeating as district champions and easily handling Plymouth-Whitemarsh in their interdistrict opener. But an off-court incident on the night of that game led to the suspension of many of his front-line teammates for the Cougars' next game against District 1 power Cheltenham.


With only a handful of seasoned players and a few mainly junior varsity players surrounding him, Kringe stepped up with a career-high 24 points and kept the Cougars close most of the way until Cheltenham pulled away for a 68-56 victory.


Kringe and the Cougars had to elevate their games the following season when they fought off a talented Coughlin team to capture both the WVC and District 2 championships. He was named the WVC Division I Player of the Year and a repeat member of the conference's all-star team.


After surviving Coughlin's slow-down tactics in the 1995 district title game and coming from behind to defeat Reading in their first interdistrict test, the Cougars faced one of their greatest challenges before or since: Kobe Bryant and Lower Merion in an area classic. The game at Bethlehem Liberty High School was tied toward the end of regulation when Bryant had the ball in his hands at the top of the key, a sight that would become quite familiar for NBA fans and an opponent's worst nightmare in the years that followed. But as Bryant made his move toward the basket, Kringe stripped the ball away and denied Bryant a chance to be the hero. The Cougars went on to hold Bryant and the Aces scoreless in overtime and advance with a 64-59 victory.

Hazleton Area put on a clinic in its next win, a 61-53 decision over York at Reading, that sent the Cougars back to the Eastern final for the second time in three seasons. But after jumping ahead of Williamsport 21-4 early on at Pottsville's Martz Hall, the Cougars weren't able to hold on as the Millionaires pecked away and finally overtook the locals 62-56, denying them another trip to Hershey. The Cougars finished with 28 wins, and their point guard was named to the Associated Press Pennsylvania Big School All-State fifth team.


With Kringe, three other returning starters and a group of talented underclassmen in the fold, Kringe's senior season began with much promise. He played in the prestigious Sonny Hill League in Philadelphia that summer, when another returning all-stater overheard Kringe telling another player where he was from. "Hazleton, I owe y'all one,'' said Bryant, who went on to lead Lower Merion to the state Class AAAA title in 1996.

When Kringe wasn't playing on his own, he and his Cougar teammates were showing their stuff at summer team camps and in tournaments throughout the Eastern part of the state, creating a stir of excitement throughout the area.


Despite a nagging ankle injury and a brutal non-conference schedule that included the likes of Reading, Philadelphia's Simon Gratz and a Paterson (N.J.) Catholic team with future NBA players Tim Thomas and Kevin Freeman, Kringe led the Cougars to another successful season. He earned WVC Division I Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year as the Cougars repeated as WVC champions, and he eventually was named to the AP's Big School All-State first team, the only Cougar boys basketball player to receive the honor.


Kringe's all-state honor somewhat eased the disappointment of the Cougars' upset loss to Abington Heights in the opening round of the District 2 tournament, which ended Hazleton and Hazleton Area's amazing district title streak at 12.


Kringe finished his brilliant Cougar career with a then school record 1,247 points (suprassed only by Russ Canzler's 1,261), 456 assists and 170 steals.


Even more impressively, Hazleton Area went 99-17 in Kringe's four seasons as the starting point guard, all while he kept the same expression on his face. With Kringe, no one knew if the Cougars were up by 15 points or behind by 15. Leib once said that he'd never want to play poker with Kringe, whose stoic, boyish looks and polite mannerisms off the court belied his fierce, competitive desire with a basketball in his hands or if he were defending another player with the ball in his hands (see Bryant).


After graduating from Hazleton Area in June 1996, Kringe earned a full athletic scholarship to Northeastern University in Boston. There, he was the Huskies' starting point guard for four seasons and was a member of the America East conference's All-Rookie Team in 1997, a member of the Lobo Classic All-Tournament Team in 1998 and the Huskies' Most Valuable Player in 1998.


He still ranks eighth at Northeastern for career three-point field goals (137) and career assists. He is tied with the late Reggie Lewis for the most consecutive points scored in a single game by a Northeastern player with 19 against Marquette in 1998.


Kringe received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Northeastern in 2000. He's worked in both juvenile detention and domestic relations.


He currently works as a juvenile probation officer and lives in Drums.