Hazleton Area High head basketball coach, Bruce Leib, will become one of the youngest members of the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame when he is inducted. Leib, who has been a head coach 15 years, went over the 300 mark in victories last season when he piloted the Hazleton Area High Cougars to a 29-2 record, including 29 victories in succession. The Cougars lost the state championship game to Erie Cathedral Prep, but it was the first trip to the state title game by a team with the name Hazleton in it since 1944. Leib, a product of the Hazleton public schools, and a former varsity player at Hazleton High, started his head coaching career at Mullen High School, Denver, Colorado, where he was 111-33 in seven years. His teams won four league championships, two district crowns, and one state consolation championship. In seven seasons as Hazleton High coach, Leib’s Mountaineers won 170 and lost only 29. Added to last season’s 29-2 mark, Leib is on the threshold of his 200th local triumph at 199-31. His combined record at all three high schools is 310-64, an average of over 20 victories a season. His Hazleton High teams won seven consecutive District 2 PIAA titles, and five Wyoming Valley Conference District I crowns. Last season, the Cougars added both league and district titles. Leib quickly gained respect in the Wyoming Valley Conference and around the state. He has been named Wyoming Valley Conference Coach of the Year five times, and following the 1989-90 season, during which the Mountaineers were 28-1, losing by two points to Penn Wood in the PIAA Eastern semifinals, Leib was named Pa. Class AAAA Coach of the Year. His Hazleton High teams also won 75 consecutive Wyoming Valley Conference Division I games. Among the players he coached at Hazleton High who went on to college careers are, Mike Joseph, Christian Fornataro, Bob Krizansky, Jeff Antolick, Rich Hudock, Raul Martinez, Jason Hoppy, Rich Yanoski, Brian Billig, John Schran, and Matt Gabriel. Last season’s two top scorers, Chris Long and Hassan Abdullah, will play their college basketball at Princeton and Niagara, respectively. A strong disciplinarian and motivator, Leib has consistently produced teams that thrive on pressure situations. The Cougars were rated an underdog last season in the PIAA AAAA Eastern final against Chester, but they staged another of their numerous rallies that Leib’s teams have come up with in big games and won it, 48-47. There’s no questioning the fact that Leib has revived high school basketball spirit in the area. Fans follow the team in large numbers and often fill the gym for home games.