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Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Hoops Preview: Moved up five classes, last year's champions will need all resources to make another run

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

It will be impossible in 2014 for the Notre Dame girls basketball team to repeat as Class D state champions.

Section V officials made sure of that.

If the Fighting Irish make it to the post season -- very likely given the fact that all but one top player from last year is returning -- making a deep run in the post season will be difficult.

Again, thanks to Section V officials.

Notre Dame, with only 149 students, has been moved from Class D to Class B2 where eight of the 10 schools in the class have an average of 283 students, and all but Le Roy (283) and Bishop Kearney (216, and last year's Class C state champions) have more than 300 students.

Section V officials moved Notre Dame past Class D1 and three Class C divisions to get the team in with schools nearly twice as big.

"I always thought sports was about the kids, but they're doing what they have to do to make it difficult for the private school and that's just the way it is," Pero said.

Any shot at a State Championship will mean getting past several schools in Class B1 with more than 400 students.

"I'm not crying wolf," Head Coach Dave Pero said. "To me it's not fair, but sometimes life just isn't fair. There's a lot worse things out in life than us going to Class B."

Rather than cry over what he can't change, Pero is doing what good coaches do -- getting his players ready to play, running through offensive and defensive drills, working on conditioning and planning how to use his available resources for the best possible results.

"It is what it is," Pero said. "We're preparing our girls to play and I think they'll handle that, and the chips will fall where they may."

There will be a lot of tools at Pero's disposal: Mel Taylor, the MVP of the state championship game, returns to her play-making guard position; Laurie Call, a Scottish terrier on defense who gets a hold of an opposing player's leg and won't let go; and Burgundy Bartlett, who's quick and strong with three-point range, but is coming off a missed season because of a knee injury.

Then there's Shea Norton, who's grown from last year's 5'10" to 6'1" and added some muscle. The sophomore may be primed for a breakout year. She worked hard on her game over the summer, improving her ball handling and perimeter shooting, making her a threat in the paint and from long range.

"Last year, she was here, but learning," Pero said. "She's improved by leaps and bounds. She's playing the inside, but also making shots outside."

At the post positions, Pero can also look for big contributions from two other tall and strong sophomores, Taylor DiMartino, returning from last year's team, and Becca Krenzer, a transfer from Pavilion. Both are six-footers who can pull down rebounds on both ends of the court.

Also returning are Bailee Welker (who is also made big off season strides, Pero said), Hannah Green, Emily McCracken and Emma Francis, who all made significant contributions during the course of ND's championship run.

"We have 11 players who can contribute, who can come off the bench and I won't feel like we're losing much," Pero said.

That kind of quality player rotation will be important in a season where coaches are expecting refs to call more fouls.

Just like the NCAA, officials have decided the pendulum in basketball has swung too far toward the defense and it's time to let the offense reassert itself. There are no new rules, but rules about hand checking and giving driving shooters space will be more rigorously and consistently enforced.

So far this season in NCAA men's hoops, there have been an average of 10 more fouls called per game. In last Saturday's Niagara and Seton Hall game, there were 72 fouls called and 102 free throws. Men's game scoring has increased to 76 points per team, up from 67.5.

Notre Dame made it through the post season last year in large part because of a never-let-up defensive style that kept opponents off balance and out of sync.

Nobody was more tenacious or aggressive on defense than Call, but after a scrimage yesterday in which the Irish were called for 21 fouls in the first quarter, Pero believes his team learned a valuable lesson, and the lesson wasn't lost on Call.

"She's matured so much and I think her eyes really opened up last night in the second quarter," Pero said. "Even last year through the run, we were worried she was going to get into foul trouble but she changed her game and I think she's mature enough to do that again."

Pero still expects Call to spark the defense.

"If Laurie's on you, you're going to have a lot of problems," Pero said.

Last year Call lead Section V with 120 steals. If she hits that mark again -- and Pero believes she will -- that would put her at 400 career steals, which Pero said would be quite a milestone.

Taylor will also be closing in on a career milestone of 1,000 points scored.

The lone senior to graduate after the state championship was Shea's older sister, Riley Norton. Riley was the team's leading scorer, hitting about 14 points per game, but Pero believes with the improvements in his younger players and the strong rotation he can put on the floor the team can fill the scoring gap.

The Lady Irish will only go as far as the girls are willing to focus and play hard, Pero said, and that's true whether they're in Class D or Class B.

The Genesee Region League -- the majority of ND's regular season opponents -- is comprised mainly of Class C teams. Only Elba -- which won the state championship in 2012 and had a seven-game winning streak against ND snapped in Sectionals last year -- is Class D. The Irish are probably the pre-season favorites to when the GR title.

Which puts them into sectionals, where anything can happen, even when playing bigger schools.

"It's all breaks," Pero said. "When you get into the post season, you've got to catch some breaks and the post season is so far away right now that we want to get through our 18 games and then the post season will be here and we can concentrate on that."

Top photo: Dave Pero.

Mel Taylor

Asst. Coach Dave Pero Jr.

Laurie Call

Bailee Welker

Shea Norton

Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm

After 26 years, 587 wins, 10 sectional titles and one state championship, Tom Nowak honored at retirement party

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, football, high school sports, sports

In a room filled with friends, fans and supporters last night, former Elba Lady Lancers Head Coach Tom Nowak was all smiles.

"It's really special," Nowak said. "It's a little bit, I don't know, I want to say the word, 'imposing,' because you want to be in the background as a coach. It's difficult when you come out here and you're the person, but it's really nice to see."

Nowak was honored with a retirement party at the Elba Fire Hall that featured a collection of memorabilia and lots of memories from 26 years of serving the community by teaching young people how to compete and win.

In 1977, after two years at Dundee, Nowak joined Elba Central as a history teacher. He also became the varsity football coach and the varsity girls basketball coach.

His football record over 22 years was 130-60-6 with two sectional titles.

Leading the Lady Lancers, Nowak compiled a 457-132 record, eight sectional titles and, most significantly, a state title in 2012.

"Just that one precious one," Nowak said of the state championship. "It was special. We went in 2000 and lost in the finals. I always thought I'd never get a chance to go back and I got a chance to go back and the girls came through."

Teaching and coaching in Elba was a perfect fit, he said.

"I've always considered myself a shallow person," Nowak said. "I like history and I like sports. I first got to be a history teacher at Elba and then I got a chance to coach, so it really worked out well for me."

It takes time and dedication to be a successful varsity coach in any sport, and that means, Nowak acknowledged, that he maybe wasn't home as much as his wife might have liked over the years.

"We're going to do some things for my wife," said Nowak, who retired from teaching in 2009. "She spent so many years staying home on a Friday night watching Dallas and Falcon's Crest while I was out gallivanting around scouting football games. It will be nice to give her the opportunity to do some of the things that maybe we didn't get to do when I was a coach."

With all those wins and all those titles, surely young coaches could learn something from Nowak, and here's his advice:

"Find a mentor," Nowak said. "Find the people who are successes and spend some time and find out why they're successful.You will see something you can incorporate into your own plan. That's something I did. I looked at some role models because as a young coach you really don't know what to do and that was really beneficial to me."

Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Hoops Preview: Coach Brasky confident young team can pull it together to make run at league title

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, high school sports, sports

In recent years, even on the first day of practice, Buddy Brasky said he was eager for go-time. He thought his teams were ready for their first regular season game.

This year, with six seniors graduating and a roster stocked with sophomores and juniors, it's going to take a little time to get the team into championship form.

"We've got to get better throughout the year," Brasky said following a practice at Batavia High School today. "We get a little bit better, a little better, a little bit better, and hopefully we peak by the end of the year. Where in the past couple of years we've been really good right from the beginning, I think it's going to take a little while this year."

The core of the starting squad appears to be Justice Fagan, a senior guard, and Jeff Redband, a junior forward whose clutch buzzer beater in last year's regional championship helped send the Blue Devils to the state championship semi-finals.

"We've got two really good players, two first-team, all-league type of players," Brasky said. "If we can get the guys around them to step up, yes, we can win the league title and then the next step from there is sectionals."

It's a little bit of a setback, Brasky said, that Redband is sitting out pre-season wth an injured ankle. He's already been sidelined for three weeks and is at least two weeks away from returning for action. He may not be ready for the opening tip-off.

Also missing a big chunk of practice time is starting senior guard Andrew Turner, who will miss the next 10 days of practice after suffering a mild concussion.

Brasky is also expecting a big contribution from sophomore forward Malachi Chenault, who made the varsity last year as a freshman.

Coming up from JV is that squad's second-leading scorer last year, guard Jerrett Laskett, a junior.

"These are good kids," Brasky said. "They listen. They're coachable. Our schemes are pretty complicated. Our defenses are not easy to pick up, so little by little, I see improvement every day. I'm pretty pleased with how they're working right now."

The Blue Devils, in Class A-II this year, opens the season Dec. 7 against Williamsville South at Niagara Falls HS. There are no home games scheduled before the Lions Tournament, Dec. 27 and Dec. 30 at Genesee Community College.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Scrimmage at Notre Dame gives hearing and deaf teams a chance to learn from each other

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

In the late 1960s, when David Pero played boys basketball for Notre Dame, one of the schools annual opponents that always presented a challenge was St. Mary's School for the Deaf out of Buffalo.

The boys played hard and and ran their plays with no verbal communication.

It was quite an experience, as Pero remembered it. As the girls basketball coach at Notre Dame, Pero thought his team should share the same experience.

"This is a life lesson," Pero said. "Our girls get a chance to see that people with disabilities might play the game differently, but it's the same game and they're just as aggressive as we are."

Notre Dame hosted a pre-season scrimmage tonight with St. Mary's, the Rochester School for the Deaf and Geneseo High School participating.

"We thought it would be a great experience for our kids, our girls, to have a scrimmage with hearing teams and with another deaf team," said Tim Kelly, St. Mary's superintendent. "All four schools are getting a great experience playing against schools they wouldn't necessarily play against."

Notre Dame and St. Mary's haven't played competitively against each other in years, since both left the Smith League. The Fighting Irish are now part of Section V and the Genesee Region. St. Mary's and Rochester School for the Deaf are independent teams.

"They were always, always a good basketball team," Pero said. "They would give you all you wanted. We probably only ever beat them, all the years we played them, by three, four, five points, because they always had very good teams."

The scrimmage was a great chance for the teams to learn from each other and about each other, Kelly said.

"We're always looking at our school to have our kids reach their full potential both academically and athletically and this certainly helps our girls reach their full potential," Kelly said.

The scrimmage was sponsored by T.F. Brown's owner Rick Mancuso.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Glover scores 31, GCC women's basketball earns first win; men lose late lead to Lakeland CC

post by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports

Shanell Glover helped pace the Genesee Community College women's basketball team to its first win of the season on Tuesday night, compiling a performance of 31 points and 15 rebounds in a 72-65 win over visiting Lakeland Community College.

GCC (1-4) got off to a fast start thanks to 20 first half points from Glover.

Dashawna Jenifer recorded her third double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Genesee grabbed a total of 57 rebounds on the night and took advantage with 28 second chance points.

The Lady Cougars took a four-point lead into halftime and used 11 points off the bench in the second half to hold off Lakeland.

Breana Gleaton added eight points and Markina Robinson chipped in six points.

Genesee will return to action on November 23rd when it travels to Davis College.




The Genesee Community College men's basketball team could not hold on to a late lead against #17 Lakeland Community College on Tuesday night, and dropped its home opener of the 2013-14 season, 90-84. 

Lakeland led the majority of the first half, shooting 60% from three-point range. The Cougars battled and stayed in the game by shooting 50% from the field in the opening period.

The Cougars took a 79-76 lead with four-minutes remaining in the game when Alastair Cole hit his fourth three-point basket of the night. Lakeland responded and with under a minute to play, broke an 82-82 tie with a layup and a chance at a three-point play. The Lakers could not capitalize with the free-throw.

Trailing by two with 40-seconds remaining, the Cougars forced a five-second violation on a Lakeland inbound attempt, but could not capitalize and were forced to put the Lakers at the line the remainder of the game.

Ervin Mitchell scored a game-high 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Cole finished with 23 points, Naquil Jones added 19 points and five rebounds and Gabriel Burroughs scored ten points.

Genesee (1-2) will return to action on Saturday against St. John Fisher (JV) at home at 12 p.m.

Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

LCCP hosts 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Le Roy

Le Roy Christian Community Project hosted a three-on-three basketball tournament today at Le Roy Physical Therapy. Here are some shots from one of the games.

There were nine teams and about 30 players participating.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

Mini-camp helps hoop players step up their game as season approaches

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Buddy Brasky, high school sports, sports

With the basketball season only six weeks out, some of the regions top hoops players have been heading over to the Batavia High School gym two days a week to drill on the game's fundamentals -- shooting and ball handling.

"It's a lot of skill work and a chance to get a ball in their hands," said Buddy Brasky, Batavia's boys varsity head coach and leader of the mini-camp, which he's been running for about six years.

Jeff Redband, a junior with Batavia, has been coming to the camp for five years, said his participation has definitely improved his game.

"This camp is based on the basics, so you don't learn new stuff, but it makes you better at the things you really need to know," Redband said.

Each session includes ball-handling exercises and shooting drills, but Brasky noted drilling just two days a week isn't going to cut it. The 45 players participating -- which range in age from eighth grade to high school seniors -- need to practice and play every day if they're going to improve.

"We tell them you can only do so much here," Brasky said. "You've got to take what we do here -- we're only here two days a week -- and go home and do it on your own at home."

One of the drills involves shooting 100 baskets from at least 12 feet out, but that's just a drop in the bucket for the amount of practice necessary to become a competent shooter.

"The games give them the opportunity transfer what they're learning in skills in a game situation," Brasky said.

"You've got to get a couple hundred shots in a day," Brasky said.

Following drills, the players break off into four-on-four games, which give the kids a chance to play against players from all over the region, not just Genesee County and not just their own schools.

All that drilling on fundamentals has really paid off for Elba's Haley Brown.

"It helps a lot," Brown said. "It's made me a lot better shooter and ball handler and it shows during the season."

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Serious basketball players from grades 9 through 12 invited to basketball mini-camp

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, sports

Boys and girls in grades 9-12 looking to advance their hoop dreams are invited to a basketball mini-camp starting Oct. 7 at Batavia High School.

The camp is hosted by Batavia Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Buddy Brasky and sponsored by the Batavia Boys Basketball Booster Club.

The camp will focus on improving offensive skills and it will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. every Monday and Thursday in October.

The cost is $125 and Brasky said the camp is designed for experienced and serious players only.

For more information, contact Brasky at (585) 356=4050 or e-mail him at [email protected]

Monday, July 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Girl's basketball program shows some Genesee Valley pride in tournament showing

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Le Roy, pembroke, sports

Five girls from Genesee County are part of a Genesee Valley Pride basketball program that recently took third place in a national tournament held in Florida.

The team is made up of Samantha Jurek and Hunter Jurek, from Alden, Abby Kamysz, Attica, Tiara Filbert, Batavia, Rebecca Grimaudo, Churchville-Chili, Kayla Heimlich, Le Roy, Niki Templeton and Logan Fugle, both of Livonia, and Pembroke’s Rylee Mosher, Breanna Johnson and Michaela Nati.

This was the inaugural season for GV Pride, which competed in six regional tournaments before traveling to Florida. For more on the program, visit the team's Web site.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

Photos: Winners of the 3-on-3 tournament at Williams Park

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, sports, Williams Park

Sunday, we posted photos from the 3-on-3 tournament at Williams Park. Last night organizer Dave Smith e-mailed us some pictures and information about the winners.

The 30 and over champs: Oldies But Goodies. Team members are Dontre Woods, Tyrone Woods, John McCulley and Alton Williams.

The boys 14-15 champs, The Unit. Team members are Adonis Davis, Malachi Chenault, Terrell Mapes and Anthony Gallo.

The girls 14-25 champs, The Pride. Team members are Tiara Filbert, Essence Williams and Maddie McCulley.

The girls 12-13 champs, Da Truth. Team members are Maggie Cecere, Dajah Williams and Alissa Polk.

The 6-7 year-old champs, Showtime. We have last names only: Woods, Welker, Sherwood and Brohmstead.

The 10-11 girls champs, They Got Game. Team members are Thomas, M. Reinhardt, M. Reigle, R. Stefaniak and J. Cuttney.

More after the jump: Click on the headline.

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