MCS, RCS have high hopes for hoops

Staff report
TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More might be the battle cry of the Roxbury boys’ basketball team this winter. Only eight players strong, Roxbury hopes that teamwork is the fuel that powers the engine. One thing for sure, everyone has a role to play and something to contribute.

An eight-man roster presents a challenge of a different kind for Roxbury coach Tom Faraci. “It’s been tough to simulate game conditions,” noted Faraci. The Roxbury coach loves to play an up-tempo game and believes that’s the way his guys play best. Yet, Faraci understands taking the game end to end on both sides of the floor will be a balancing act with stamina and team depth considerations.

The heart of the Rockets’ roster is senior Kyle Ciaravino. A three-year veteran, Ciaravino is a go-to guy on offense. Inside/outside scoring potential and the ability to spot shot and hit a jumper off the dribble, make Ciaravino a dangerous scoring threat.

Faraci will be counting on the speed and athleticism of another senior, Dan Menne. “Dan can get up and down the floor,” explained Faraci. “He has great speed defensively and can really help us.
The final senior, Cody Johnson, is playing basketball for the first time. Faraci likes Johnson’s speed and aggressiveness. “Cody can mix it up in there. He should provide a lot of hustle and energy off the bench.”

Five juniors round out the squad. Of the five, only Dakota Corona has varsity experience. A rugged small forward, Corona will provide help working the backboards. “We’re not a big team, and Dakota can mix it up in the paint,” praised Faraci. “ He’s got some good inside moves and a decent short-range jumper.”

Most of the ball handling responsibilities will be handled by Spencer Hinkley. Hinkley is quick and scrappy, a defensive juggernaut with long-range shooting capability.

Steady and dependable, Roxbury foes would be well advised not to overlook Nick Hamil. The junior shooting guard understands the game and uses a good outside shooting touch and floor smarts to get the job done.

Derek Cowan has good spring and will surprise you on the boards. Cowan’s inside/outside scoring potential make the small forward a huge plus on offense.
At six-feet, two-inches tall, Eric Shultis will provide power in the paint. “Eric is fast off his feet and is working hard to develop his inside game,” observed Faraci.

Although many of the faces are new, Faraci likes the look of his team and feels his team will get better and better as the season progresses. “We have some good components, some smart guys. We should be okay,” interjected the Roxbury coach.

As he evaluates the competition, Faraci feels the balance of power still resides in South Kortright and Hunter. “There are no easy nights on the schedule,” Faraci concluded. “It looks like a pretty tough league this year.”

Margaretville Blue Devils
John Bernhardt will be working the sidelines with the Margaretville boys’ varsity basketball team this winter. Bernhardt, who coached the girls’ varsity at Margaretville for four seasons in the early 2000s, has signed on for one year to fill a vacancy caused by a temporary leave of absence.

“The preseason is always too short,” laughed Bernhardt as he lamented the fact there was still much to do to prepare his squad for its December 1 opener against Gilboa. “That only multiples when you are a new coach in the first year.”

But, Bernhardt likes what he sees so far. “We’re trying to help these guys discover the work ethic; the day-to-day intensity and consistency you need to compete in the Delaware League,” explained Bernhardt. “It’s tough, but we’re making progress.”

Bernhardt sees promise in putting together a decent inside/outside game. Junior Mitch Hull returns as the Blue Devils’ center providing rebounding and scoring potential around the basket. “If Mitch learns to push himself every day, he can be a force,” noted Bernhardt.

Hull gets help in the paint from a pair of juniors, Ryan Sanford and Sean Gaunt. Sanford has good spring in his legs and can get off the floor and Gaunt is always on the move seeking rebounding seams.

The new Margaretville coach will count on a pair of underclassmen to direct the Margaretville offense as point guards. Bernhardt will first hand the ball to sophomore Kyle Short with freshman Matt VanValkenburg as Short’s backup.

“There will be a learning curve, of course,” reflected Bernhardt, “but these guys are tough competitors who love the game and will only get better over the next few years.” Bernhardt says his young gunslingers are fearless and can put the ball in the air. The Blue Devils’ coach is hoping senior Iso Desic, returning to the game for the first time since his freshman year, might help out in the backcourt. So far, limited practice time make Desic’s potential impact an unknown.

Two seniors will play major roles in Bernhardt’s game plan. Guard Jon Fairbairn is an outside marksman who pursues the ball well on defense and is having a strong preseason.

“Jon’s a great kid who will really help us,” praised his coach. Bernhardt likes the versatility Marshall Bouton brings to the game. Bouton, a strong forward, will be asked to mix it up on the inside and play at the wing.

“We value Marshall’s leadership,” said Bernhardt. “We have a lot of guys with little experience, and Marshall plays a big role in keeping them grounded.”

Junior Randy Morse and senior Ralph Falco will help out at the guard spot. Both are quick, and Morse adds a long-range shooting touch. Two seniors, Adam VanValkenburg and Peter Cella, are expected to supply rebounding power and make an impact on defense.

Bernhardt knows that to compete, his team will need to play stingy defense. He sees a tough Delaware League schedule facing his squad but is undaunted. “I’ve been around this game for a long time,” reflected Bernhardt. “When kids chase a common goal, accept roles, play hard and play smart they get better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”