Nov 29, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For the high school basketball season, just underway, to be as potent and exciting as it was a season ago, just a few things need to happen.
Three teams would have to win state championships. Four others would need to reach the state final four weekend festivities. A pair of megastars must garner McDonald’s All-American status, with one of them the consensus national player of the year.
Other than that, though, it’s pretty much the same, right?
It would be easy, and lazy, to point out what isn’t there in 2012-13 as to what is there. Breanna Stewart, no longer wearing Cicero-North Syracuse blue, is now tearing it up in Connecticut blue. Dajuan Coleman, his dominant days at Jamesville-DeWitt over, is easing into his prime role in the SU rotation, hoping to propel the Orange to a national title.
Taking the point further, the reigning state Class D champions from Sackets Harbor is without the starting quintet that got the perfect 25-0 Patriots to the summit. Also gone is Jordan-Elbridge’s Molly Hourigan, J-D’s Tyler Cavanaugh, most of Henninger’s starting five, Cortland’s Maggie Brown, Fabius-Pompey’s Stevie Ray, Weedsport’s Brittany LaForce and a litany of other stars.
So it’s a desert now, right? Oh wait, the appropriate term at this point in the calendar is a tundra. But either way, a desolate place without a reason to hope or get excited, correct?
You can pretty much guess by now that those questions are rhetorical, because, yes, there are heaps of reasons to get stoked, to get out in those potential winter nights and trudge to the gym to catch a hot night of hoops.
Start, perhaps, on Dec. 8, when as part of the Peppino’s Classic at Henninger the boys sides from Bishop Ludden and Fayetteville-Manlius gather. One is defending a state title. The other really thinks it can win one, too.
Moved up from Class B to A, Ludden has a great chance to break J-D’s death grip because they’ve got two more years of Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett, and the Red Rams, while possessing two strong juniors in Rasheed Baker and Jafar Kinsey, don’t have a Coleman or Cavanaugh that causes big-time opponents to worry.
While other Class AA contenders, including the champs from Utica Proctor, face some roster turnover, the Hornets kept its four best players around. The quartet of John Schurman, Jake Wittig, T.J. Wheatley and Tomer Nesher might prove impossible to contain. While there are, as usual, plenty of good teams in AA, F-M will have the favorite’s target from the first tip onward.
Let’s also see what happens to Class B and C, the former transformed with Ludden’s call-up and the arrival of city powers Syracuse Academy of Science and Institute of Technology Central, the latter wide-open with challengers emerging from the Frontier League, OHSL Patriot division and Center State Conference. Also, New York Mills could go a long way again in Class D, since Sackets is starting over and the Marauders bring back a lot of talent.
Everyone in Class AA girls basketball was so sad to see Stewart go. Okay, maybe not, since now there’s an actual chance for teams without the initials C-NS, headed by the likes of West Genesee and CBA, though the Northstars do have three starters back and will still defend with unusual ferocity.
But the best race on the girls side, by far, is in Class B. There’s merely a reigning state finalist at South Jefferson, a superb and talented group at Westhill, Emily Durr tearing it up at Utica-Notre Dame and a lot of good players back at places like Ludden and Skaneateles. We have a whole winter to build up the hype, too, before the playoffs hit in late February.
J-D, defending the Class A girls title, might turn up the offensive volume with Cydney Goodrum and Kayleigh Cavanaugh back and no one else as imposing to challenge them now that Brown is at Le Moyne.
Jenna Becker is gone, but everyone else on that tiny roster at Little Falls (which might be a bit larger this time) returns for reigning Class C champ Little Falls, with 6-5 Kirsten Dodge seizing the spotlight at Fabius-Pompey in Ray’s absence. It should be good in Class D, too, where Hamilton tries to get back the crown Oriskany took from them a season ago.
So fret not, intrepid Central New York basketball fan. You need not confine your love affair to those times the team in Orange hits the Carrier Dome hardwood.
For there are plenty of winter evenings, and plenty of rich and potentially richer storylines, that could unfold in the high school ranks in the three months ahead, even beyond what we’ve talked about here. That’s the charm of it all, for as much as we know from before, we never know what happens next.