Thursday, December 4, 2008

2008-09 boys high school basketball preview - small schools

Hopefully you picked up a hard copy of our preseason boys basketball teams, but for posterity's sake, here is a digital version.

The Record's
2008-09 small school boys basketball preseason preview:

Top 10 teams
1. Tamarac – Big men Steve Hunt and Brent Matazinsky will be bolstered by three-year point guard Tyler Shaw, but the Bengals are stocked with versatile talent and have a deep rotation.
The Bengals defeated Catskill and Canton to claim the 2008 Watervliet Tip-Off Tournament this past week and are off to a great start.
Tamarac finished 1-13 in 2006-07, but rebounded with a 14-8 overall record last season, finishing in fourth place in the Wasaren League. Now that the seniors are coming into their own, they know it’s now or never for the Bengals to claim that elusive Wasaren League title.
"We’re trying to turn the corner," said Tamarac head coach Eric Medved. "I’m proud of us that we’re going through the process of trying to turn the corner. I see the future being so bright with the younger players."

2. Cohoes – Forward Nick Benoit returns for his senior season. He was a member of The Record’s All-City first team as a junior. He averaged 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and in the springtime, he is also one of the area’s premier baseball players.
A number of football and soccer players are coming out to play hoops for the Tigers this winter, which has Cohoes head coach Jeff Huneau excited. The football team had its best season in school history, advancing to the Class B semifinals. The soccer team also had a banner year, advancing to the Section II Class B title game for the first time.
"Both teams (football and soccer) were very successful in the fall season," head coach Jeff Huneau said. "I think they got a taste of it and hopefully that positive energy will carry over."

3. Hoosic Valley – The defending Section II Class B champions move back to Class CC this season, but before the Indians even think of the Sectional tournament, they’ll have their hands full in the Wasaren League.
"There has always been great parity in the (Wasaren) league," said head coach Dan Calhoun. "You never have a night off. And every year, the bottom keeps coming up. I don’t believe anyone will run the table."
Alex Kugler and Kyle Pallozzi take over shooting duties from The Record’s 2007-08 Player of the Year, Pat Lanoue, who is now playing at Hudson Valley Community College. Sophomore guard Kevin White will also make some noise in the backcourt.
Senior center Zach McNall is back to full strength after battling leg injuries last season.
"It’s just a question of how they all play together," Calhoun said. "We’re waiting for the leadership to develop and to see who takes the big shots."

4. Hoosick Falls – Kevin McMahon and Zack Hall are both 6-foot-5, and Anthony Goldstein, at 6-foot-2, give the Panthers a height advantage perhaps enjoyed by perhaps no other team in the Wasaren League.
McMahon was a first-team Wasaren League selection last year as a sophomore. He also committed himself to AAU ball, playing with the Albany City Rocks and a brand-new Hoosick Falls-based team.
The Panthers were below .500 in 2007-08, but are thinking big in a new-look Wasaren League.
Kevin Woods, who quarterback the Panthers’ football team this year, missed most of last season because he tore his ACL and could be a wildcard upon his return to the hardwood.

5. Watervliet – The Cannoneers are also looking to turn the page in this, head coach Walter Bowden’s first full season at the helm.
Co-Captains Chris Hughes and Tom Ebenhoch will be great defenders for Watervliet, with Kevin Winterbourne and Caleb Gleason providing a little power in the paint.
Rich Lukoisiunas returns after missing much of last season and his 6-foot-5 frame will pose a problem for defenders all across the Colonial Council.
The Cannoneers also have nine seniors, almost unheard of in the Arsenal City, but it has Bowden eager with the level of talent that is returning.
"We have a good mix of players," Bowden said, "and hopefully none of the distractions of last year."

6. Mechanicville – The Red Raiders went on an absolutely improbable run to the New York State Class C championship game last season, a year in which head coach Joe Loudis was inducted in the New York State basketball Hall of Fame for his years of service at Mechanicville and Cohoes.
Josh Rougia and Nick Lettrick will be the Raiders’ biggest weapons as they look to defend their Section II title as they lost Pat Marra and Paul MacMillan to graduation and Chris Grayson to transfer.

7. Rensselaer – The Rams played second fiddle in the Patroon Conference to Ichabod Crane last season, but took off as soon as the Section II Class C tournament began. Rensselaer knocked off Duanesburg, Maple Hill and Germantown en route to a Section II Class C title, their first since 1991.
Although Justin Wilkinson has graduated, returning players such as Zack Reynolds, Shane Brozowski and Mico De Los Santos-Perez form the backbone of an experienced and talented group.
Brett Hart, who measures in at 6-foot-5, will help fill the hole left by the rangy Keith Britt.

8. Stillwater - Chris Grayson has transferred to Stillwater after playing for Mechanicville last season and the gritty guard is poised for an impact year with the Warriors. He has great court vision and speed and may blow by slower defenders in the Wasaren League all season.
Forward Nick D’Alberto also figures to be a key player for the Warriors as they try to stay competitive in a jam-packed Wasaren League along with Saratoga County rival Schuylerville and Rensselaer County powers Tamarac, Hoosic Valley and Hoosick Falls.

9. Maple Hill - Scott Hanrahan takes over as head coach for the legendary Dan Gillespie, who left his basketball post after retiring from teaching.
The Wildcats, who found themselves in a four-way tie for third place in the Patroon Conference a season ago, should challenge for a title this time around with senior guards Trent Tibbits and Jamie Schultz entering their prime.
Adrian Donnelly, who stands 6-foot-3, will be Maple Hill’s biggest returning forward.

10. Waterford-Halfmoon - Jon Desso takes the reigns at Waterford after having previ¬ously coached the girls varsity team at Bishop Maginn.
Seniors Jeff Yattaw and Mike Hilton will be the Fordians tallest returners from a team that placed third in the CHVL a season ago, but Waterford will also rely on contributions from newcomers.
Sophomores Tom Brazill, 6-foot-5, and Matt Berthiaume, 6-foot-4, give Waterford an immediate advantage in the frontcourt.

Preseason Dream Team

Chris Hughes
6-foot, senior, point guard Watervliet
Hughes took over as quarterback on the Watervliet football team and now he’s expected to lead the Cannoneers on the basketball court as well.
Mike Cooney played both roles last season for the Cannoneers and now Hughes will have to step in full-time. With sidekicks such as Tom Ebenhoch and Caleb Gleason, Hughes does not need to be a big scorer if he can rally the team defensively and smoothly run the offense.
"When he was younger, he wasn’t very vocal, but he’s always been a hard worker," said Watervliet head coach Walter Bowden. "He’s really come out of his shell the last few years and he’s not afraid to step up and address the team."

Kevin McMahon
6-foot-5 junior, guard/forward, Hoosick Falls
A first-team Wasaren League All-Star as a sophomore, McMahon has a target on his back this season as one of the league’s premier players.
He averaged over 15 points per game and now that some of his supporting cast is healthy and has another year of experience, McMahon should be better than ever.
He’s an extremely versatile player, which will keep opposing defenses guessing and makes McMahon a deadly option for a last-second shot.
"He has a tremendous even keel approach and is an inside-outside player," said Tamarac head coach Eric Medved. "He can put the ball on the deck and he works hard on defense."

Steve Hunt
6-foot-5, senior, forward/guard, Tamarac
A first team All-City selection by The Record in 2007-08, Hunt figures to be a monster on the perimeter and in the paint this season for the Bengals.
Hunt averaged 16.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a junior, making him the third-highest scorer in the Wasaren League behind first team All-Area selections Pat Lanoue of Hoosic Valley and Shea Bromirski of Cambridge. He had six double-doubles and led the Bengals to their first Sectional victory in school history.
"The nice thing about (Hunt) is that he’s so versatile," said Tamarac head coach Eric Medved. "He’s increased his range and consistency on jump shots. And now that he’s grown to 6-foot-5, he’s also a post threat."
Although he was injured through a crucial recruiting period this spring, Division II and Division III coaches are showing in interest in Hunt. He has not yet, however, made a decision.

Nick Benoit
6-foot-3, senior power, forward Cohoes
Benoit, a first team All-City selection by The Record in 2007-08, averaged 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a junior and was named a first team Colonial Council All-Star.
"He’s really starting to become a leader for us," said Cohoes head coach Jeff Huneau. "His shooting is getting better too. He’s always been able to shoot the three, but now he’s more consistent than ever."
A great baseball player, Benoit is one of only a few returning players on this Cohoes team and will be needed to carry the team night-in and night-out.
"Cohoes should be a tough team this year," said Lansingburgh head coach Guy DiBacco. "Benoit is probably the premier post player in the Colonial Council."

Brent Matazinsky
6-foot-3, senior, center, Tamarac
Matazinsky was a force for the Tamarac High football team at tight end and defensive end and he applies his gridiron game to the hardcourt as well.
At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, very few Wasaren League players will be able to match Matazinsky’s strength and size in the paint. With his combination of rebounding and scoring talents, he’s a threat for a double-double night-in and night-out.
"He’s able to use his body to his advantage," said Tamarac head coach Eric Medved. "He excels at sensory contact and determining which direction to go."
Matazinsky is drawing interest from college football programs.

Second string
G Trent Tibbits, Maple Hill
G Jeff Yattaw, Waterford-Halfmoon
F Josh Rougia, Mechanicville
F Chris Zema, Berlin
C Rich Lukoisiunas, Watervliet

-- Compiled by Will Montgomery

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