Blackbirds may be ready to soar in Colonial
With powerful Albany Academy becoming an independent, parity returns to the Colonial Council this season.
Voorheesville, Cohoes and Watervliet each have solid post players and enough firepower to pace those contenders, while
perennial stalwarts like Lansingburgh and Mechanicville, led by veteran coaches Guy DiBacco and Joe Loudis, respectively, should have just enough talent to remain in the mix.
“Without Academy, the league opens up,” said Cohoes coach Jeff Huneau. “It should be a very good league this year.”
“The Colonial Council will be wide open this year,” added DiBacco. “We’re keeping Academy on our schedule, because I’m an alumnus, and we have a new facility this year.”
Most coaches feel Voorheesville is the team to beat. The Blackbirds have a dominant post player in
6-foot-6 junior center Ethan Mackey, who started as a sophomore on a team that finished 16-7 overall.
Coach Don Catellier also has four seniors to provide leadership in guards Nick Kaninsky, Nick Blow and Michael Tesch, along with forward Mike Snyder.
“We’ll be in the mix,” said Catellier. “Kaninsky is a shooter, and so are a couple of juniors in Chris Castren and Connor Chasan. I’ve also got a pair of 6-2 inside guys in sophomores Max Schuster and James Currier.”
Cohoes, which finished 9-7 in the league last season, returns 6-3 center Nick Benoit, who averaged 15 points a game. Point guard Mark Gallerie also returns.
“We’re going to use the same style we did last year,” said Huneau. “We’ll be kind of quick. We’ll try to get out there and defend every night.”
Greg Tessier, Chris Rizzo and Gary Gill are other key players in Huneau’s rotation, along with talented freshman Malcolm Shivers.
Lansingburgh lost its top two players in Connor Gallo and Matt Harte, but DiBacco brings three veterans back from last year’s 12-4, 14-8 club.
“We’ve got to replace about 25 points and 25 rebounds a game,” said DiBacco. “Harte and Gallo did a nice job for us for three years. We’ve got to rebound and guard our hoop to have a chance.”
Point guard Hameef Scott, who scored better than 14 points a game, and Jarrod Teta, who tallied nearly 10 per contest, will lead the returning players for the Knights.
Watervliet coach Walt Bowden had his hands full with the late retirement of George “Butch” Mardigan, who resigned with a Section II-record 544 wins just before the season began. Bowden didn’t have much time to prepare, and the Cannoneers lost a couple of other players en route to a 9-13 overall record.
“Last year was tough,” said Bowden. “So many things happened at once. I knew that Butch was wrestling with leaving and that he didn’t want to leave so late. But the other thing that hurt us was that a couple of other players decided to leave right after Butch left. We were young, and that led to some youthful mistakes.”
One of the players who left the program was Rich Lukosiunas, a 6-5 post player who is returning this year. Co-captains Chris Hughes and Tom Ebenhoch, a double-figure scorer, are back, along with 6-2 forward Kevin Pontore.
Loudis, who recorded his 400th career win during the 2006-07 season, continues to move up the all-time career victory list. His coaching skill makes the Red Raiders contenders, even though they don’t always have the most talented group.
“We weren’t loaded last year, but we played well above expectations,” said Loudis, of his surprising club, which finished 21-6 and reached the state tournament finals.
Two starters return in 6-1 center Nick Lettrick and 5-10 forward Josh Rougia. Both averaged around 10 ppg.
Cobleskill-Richmondville has a new coach in Tim Osterhoudt, who replaces Tim Snyder. The Bulldogs were 4-12 and 5-16 a year ago.
“My style is to put players on the court who have basketball knowledge and understand the game,” said Osterhoudt. “We want kids to react to the game. We’ll adapt to things and change defenses when we can.”
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk has enough talented athletes to turn around last year’s 2-14, 3-18 campaign. Mike Byerwalters is a 6-4 post player. Jamel Caldwell, a swingman, averaged 11 ppg and made the Colonial Council all-star team, while Mike Jones and Keith Hoyt averaged about six points per game.
Schalmont coach Kevin Curtain is optimistic he can bounce back from the painful 1-15, 1-19 season.
“What we’re hoping for is that we’ve got a year under our belt with this group. We want to be competitive, even though this is a very tough league,” he said. “We’ll have problems with size. We have to be patient with our shot selection and try to knock down the shots when we’ve got them. We also need to do a good job at defending.”
Guard Mark Belles and forward Chris Hotaling produced about 10 ppg each. Guard Bobby Sheehan and forward Dan Bonitatibus also started. They’ll be joined by 6-3 Conor Hart, who is back after taking a year off from basketball, and junior guard Aaron Pommer.
Coach: Tim Osterhoudt.
Last year’s records: 4-12 Colonial Council, 5-16 overall.
Top returning players: Josh France, forward; John DeGrace, forward.
Coach: Jeff Huneau.
Last year’s records: 9-7, 10-12.
Top returning players: Nick Benoit,
senior, center; Mark Gallerie, senior, point guard.
Coach: Guy DiBacco.
Last year’s records: 12-4, 14-8.
Top returning players: Jarrod Teta, guard; Hameef Scott, guard; Jesse Milligan, guard.
Coach: Joe Loudis.
Last year’s records: 11-5, 21-6.
Top returning players: Nick Lettrick,
senior, center; Josh Rougia, senior, forward.
Coach: Kevin Reinisch.
Last year’s records: 2-14, 3-18.
Top returning players: Jamel Caldwell, orward/guard; Mike Jones, guard/forward; Keith Hoyt, guard; Mike Byerwalters, forward/center; Joe Boomhower, guard.
Coach: Kevin Curtain.
Last year’s records: 1-15, 1-19.
Top returning players: Mark Belles, guard; Chris Hotaling, forward; Bobby Sheehan, guard; Dan Bonitatibus, forward.
Coach: Don Catellier.
Last year’s records: 11-6, 16-7.
Top returning players: Nick Kaninsky, senior, guard; Michael Tesch, senior, guard; Mike Snyder, senior, forward; Nick Blow, senior, point guard; Ethan Mackey, junior, center.
Coach: Walt Bowden.
Last year’s records: 6-10, 9-13.
Top returning players: Chris Hughes,
senior, guard; Tom Ebenhoch, senior, guard; Rich Lukosiunas, junior, center; Kevin Pontore, senior, forward.