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2012-13 Local Boys' Basketball Preview

Alexander Trojans
Last Season: 8-11 (Lost in the first round of the Class C1 Playoffs)
Head Coach: Wayne Hanley

Alexander is coming off a losing season, but they have reason to be optimistic about the upcoming year. In particular, because they return 6-foot-5 forward Travis Schmeider.

Schmeider made his mark as possibly the top big man in the Genesee Region League last year, averaging 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He was also an inside-out threat, connecting on 17 three-point field goals. Being so multidimensional, makes him difficult for opposing forwards to guard him.

The Trojans will miss Stef Krna’s 10 points and 7 rebounds per game, but they do return several other players who played significant minutes last winter. Guard Mark Farnsworth returns after averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 assists per game, and will run the offense for Wayne Hanley’s team. Also look for guard Louis Breton to take a bigger role this season.

Batavia Blue Devils
Last Season: 14-6 (Lost in the Class A Quarterfinals)
Head Coach: Buddy Brasky

After being ousted in the second round of the Class A playoffs last year, Batavia has strong reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season. They return four out of five starters, including leading scorers Justin Washington and Jalen Smith.

Washington was an All-Monroe County selection last year after posting 18 points per game and 8 rebounds per game. He is a do-it-all forward that can score inside and out, rebound and handle the ball in space. Meanwhile, Smith was a second-team All-County pick and is capable of playing both guard positions and has a soft touch from beyond the three-point arc. He gives them a solid one-two punch after scoring 17 per game a year ago.

Jamesson Etienne gives Buddy Brasky’s team a solid inside presence that allowed Washington to play on the perimeter at times last year, while Jake Brasky returns to run the offense at the point guard position. Malachi Chenault gave the Blue Devils a solid backup in the post after being called up from JV as an eighth-grader near the end of the season, and expect him to continue to grow as a full-time varsity player this year. Justice Fagan will provide more depth at guard after leading Batavia’s JV team in scoring last winter.

Byron-Bergen Bees
Last Season: 5-14 (Lost in the first round of the Class C1 Playoffs)
Head Coach: Pat McGee

Byron-Bergen faced hard times last season, winning only five games. However, this year they return the majority of their players, and Head Coach Pat McGee feels that his team has the potential to be the best that the school has had since winning the Genesee Region League in 2005.

Jeff and Jamie Maskell, who combined to average 9 assists per game a year ago, return to run the offense for the Bees and will share time at the point guard position. Austin Richardson returns as the leading scorer from the 2011-12 squad, averaging 14 points per contest. Zach DuBois, who was one of the top football players in the GR League this season, will be called upon to guard the opposing team’s best player once again this season.

The key player for Byron-Bergen will be junior Dajuandrick Gardner. The 6-foot-6 center has the potential to be a force in the middle for the Bees. Last season he averaged 12 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks per game as a sophomore. Gardner could be one of the top big men in the league if he continues to build on his success from a year ago. 

“We have gotten off to a great start and our expectations are high this year,” McGee said. “We think we can win our side of the league this year.” 

Elba Lancers
Last Season: 18-3 (Lost in the Class D1 Championship Game)
Head Coach: Mark Beehler

The Elba Lancers are coming off a superb 2011-12 season, as they reached the Class D1 Championship Game for the first time since 2005. However, Head Coach Mark Beehler will have to replace his top four scorers from a year ago, including the Ramsey triplets. One of the Ramsey’s led the Lancers in almost every statistical category, including Dan, who was a career 1,000-point scorer.

Nate Jonathan is the lone returning starter for Elba, but he has a chance to be one of the top post players in the Genesee Region League. At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, Jonathan was able to carve out space in the paint at times this year and will be called upon to do so more often this season.

Zac Gillard and Andy Boyce saw solid playing time a season ago, while Jesse Pflaumer, Brandon Naylor and Dan Scott got significant minutes as sophomores. Each player will be expected to take a bigger role this season.

“If we want to compete in against the top teams this year, we will need to battle on defense and limit our opponent’s scoring,” Beehler said.

Each of Elba’s three losses came at the hands of Notre Dame last year.

Le Roy Oatkan Knights
Last Season: 2-18 (Lost in the Class C1 Quarterfinals)
Head Coach: John King

Le Roy went through some growing pains last season, managing only one win during the regular season. However, the Knights showed solid improvement as the season went along, upsetting Alexander in the first round of sectionals and coming up one point short in the Class C1 quarterfinals to Pembroke. This season, John King’s squad returns nine players, including four starters from last year’s team. They will be a senior-laden team that has a chance to make some noise in the Livingston County League. 

Eric Witkowski returns after leading the Knights in scoring a year ago. The 6-foot-3 senior forward averaged 12.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game last season and should be a force in the middle. Marcus Mistersaro also returns to play alongside Witkowski in the frontcourt. Mistersaro led Le Roy in rebounding at 8 per game and also added 2.1 steals per contest. The backcourt will be led by junior Zach Moore, who was second on the team in scoring a year ago with 8 points per game. He will play alongside freshman Ethan Witkowski. 

“We have a great group of young men who have been working very hard,” said King, who is in his eleventh season as head coach. “With senior leadership and additions from JV’s, the team has made a commitment to working together and sacrificing individual success for team success.”

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Season: 22-2 (Lost in the Class D State Semi-finals)
Head Coach: Mike Rapone

Last season Notre Dame won sectionals for the first time since their state championship team of 2001. However, the Fighting Irish return only two starters from their team that reached the New York State Class D Semi-finals, but both of those players (Tim McCulley and Jared Thornton) were not only all-league selections, but all-state picks as well. They will both need to be big contributors as ND moves up to Class C1 this season.

McCulley and Thornton were also Mike Rapone’s leading scorers last year. McCulley, a junior, is a superb all-around player who averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Thornton, also a solid well-rounded player, averaged 16.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game, while connecting on 61 3-point field goals last year.  

Replacing three starters will be the key this year for Notre Dame, but they have some talented players to do so. Tommy Prospero, a transfer from Batavia, is an extremely versatile player who provides length and is a strong 3-point shooter. Ryan Bender will attempt to replace Sectional MVP Zach Hotze in the middle, and displayed great potential as the team’s sixth man a season ago. Bender will be an important asset, as Rapone listed how well his team plays against teams with strong inside players as a key to his team’s success. Vincent Misiti rounds out the starting five, and will provide a luxury as he can play both guard positions.

“This group has the talent to be both a GR pision 2, as well as a Class C1 title contender,” Rapone said. “If they develop a consistent work ethic, continue to grow and improve as individuals and as a team, we will be able to make big plays at the right time.”

Oakfield-Alabama Hornets
Last Season: 6-13 (Lost in the First Round of the Class C2 Playoffs)
Head Coach: Gary Kurkowski

While Oakfield-Alabama finished with a 6-13 record last season, they did have some moments to build off of. The Hornets played Elba, who had only two losses in the league, to a 10-point margin. While their signature win came early in the season, as they trounced Pembroke on the road, 71 to 29. 

This season, Gary Kurkowski’s team returns only two players with experience a year. Austin Hamm and Nate Nodlinksi will be called upon for their experience and leadership on a roster that features only two seniors (one being Hamm). Oakfield has seven juniors and a sophomore, Ryan Emery, that will play major roles in the upcoming year. Chris Nanni and Chase Manzella are coming off of stellar football seasons and should provide the Hornets with some toughness. 

“The G-R League will be highly competitive in both divisions,” Kurkowski said. “It is our hope that through hard work and game experience we will improve daily and be a formidable opponent for all on a nightly basis.”

Pembroke Dragons
Last Season: 14-7 (Lost in the Class C1 Championship Game)
Head Coach: Ron Funke

Pembroke surprised many people last season by reaching the Class C1 title game, and even having an opportunity to win the game. Coach Ron Funke’s team last year was extremely senior-laden, with 8 of 11 players on the roster graduating last summer. 

This season’s Dragons will only return two players who received significant playing time a year ago. Point Guard Colin Lewis started nine games and guard Dan Hill saw spot minutes behind Caleb Lang and Wyatt Chittenden. This year both players will be forced to be key contributors for Pembroke to have any success. 

“Duplicating last season’s success will be a stretch,” Funke said. “We will be scrappy and attempt to be competitive in our division, but we are a work in progress.” 

Austin Cansdale moves up from JV and will see extensive action, as well as sophomore Abe Lang, brother of Caleb. The Dragons also have several players who haven’t played basketball since modified.

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