December 10, 2012
Only a total junkie would consider this schedule - two basketball games Thursday night, one on Friday night, four on Saturday, four on Sunday. Consider me hooked.
There's now been enough hoops, with just about everyone underway, to start make some preliminary observations on the 2012-13 scene, knowing full well that any opinions made these days are quite malleable and, two months from now, might look increasingly dumb.
What can be said, on the boys side, is that the target has shifted. No longer on J-D, still adjusting to life after Dajuan Coleman and Tyler Cavanaugh, but now on Bishop Ludden, promoted to Class A after last March's march to the state Class B title, with all but two players back.
So far, Pat Donnelly's young men are living up to the scrutiny, having claimed a win at short-handed J-D and then moving on to win a classic over Class AA power F-M in the featured game of the Peppino's Invitational at Henninger.
Don't worry about the Hornets, though. With four starters back from last year, the Hornets, barring injuries, should play deep into February. So should Henninger, who managed to beat J-D and fight off CBA on consecutive nights, getting lots of assists from Romero Collier in the latter contest.
And there's plenty of other Class AA teams to consider, while wondering if Utica Proctor, who lost its opener to Fairport, can make its usual winter push. There's Liverpool, who's already 2-0 with a fun, fast and exciting approach to the game. Also Nottingham and West Genesee, who introduced a new force in 6-7 junior Shane Temara during an impressive season debut at the Dome.
The Class B scene that Ludden vacated is now paced by the likes of Bishop Grimes and Westhill. Already the Cobras are 4-0, with an awesome inside-outside duo of Jon Carnegie and Casey Evans that can put up a lot of points in a hurry. So can the Warriors, thanks to Jordan Roland, who dropped 38 on ITC last Friday. Don't forget either, about 2-0 Cazenovia and newcomer Syracuse Academy of Science, whose 2-0 start included tough wins over rival ITC and Skaneateles.
And the small-school competition is terrific, too. Already, there's anticipation for Dec. 18, when 4-0 Beaver River, already ranked in the state Class C top 10, goes after defending state Class D champ Sackets Harbor, who has managed a 4-0 start even with a new starting five.
Respect should also go out to the likes of Port Byron and Faith Heritage, both 4-0 as OHSL Patriot pace-setters, and Tully, who claimed a tight classic over New York Mills in the Peppino's opener.
A lot of stuff - and that's just the boys side.
Of course, in girls basketball, all eyes are on C-NS to see if they even bother after Breanna Stewart took her National Player of the Year accolades to UConn, where she's already leading the Huskies in points and rebounds.
The initial returns are mixed, a 1-1 appearance at Utica Proctor's tournament where the Northstars got waxed by Gates-Chili, but turned around to wax the host Raiders. Remember, Abbey Timpano, Sarah Bowles and Cara Gannett are still wearing C-NS blue and white, which counts for something,
But you just know West Genesee, Corcoran, CBA (already 3-0) and others feel liberated, knowing they have a real chance in Class AA now, and in a way it's fun to have a genuine title race again, even if the trade-off is missing the most accomplished player in CNY's girls basketball high school annals depart.
Besides, we still have Anna Ross at Westhill, Emily Durr at Utica-Notre Dame and that awesome dynasty at South Jefferson to make Class B quite exciting again. Plus there's a fourth wheel in the form of Skaneateles, whose awesome start includes a triple-double from Joanna Dobrovosky at ESM and a beatdown of Bishop Ludden that only adds to the anticipation for Thursday night's showdown between the Lakers and Warriors.
And there's a tough defending Class A champion at J-D, which still has Cydney Goodrum and Kayleigh Cavanaugh in the fold, along with a lights-out defense that remains stingy, as Fulton and others have learned. Then there's 6-4 Kirsten Dodge at Fabius-Pompey, determined to see the Falcons take the Class C crown back from Little Falls, the Falcons already owning a big early-season win at Westhill.
All right now, catch you breath. That was just one week of games and lessons. Far, far more education remains.