Basketball: The future is now for Shenendehowa’s Hicks

Opportunities to contribute during last year’s postseason were rare for Luke Hicks.
Shenendehowa's Luke Hicks, left, goes past Albany's Hamadi Gaddy during a Suburban Council game on Jan. 21.
Shenendehowa's Luke Hicks, left, goes past Albany's Hamadi Gaddy during a Suburban Council game on Jan. 21.

Opportunities to contribute during last year’s postseason were rare for Luke Hicks. A sophomore during the Shenendehowa boys’ basketball team’s 2015 run to a Class AA state title, the guard was left with plenty of time to think from his spot on the bench.

“I remember in the sectional final last year against Guilderland. I didn’t even play,” Hicks said. “I had it in my head then that I wanted to prove myself the next year in those types of games.”

That year is this year — and Hicks is proving himself more with each game. After scoring 17 total points in Shenendehowa’s seven 2015 postseason games, Hicks averaged a team-best 19.7 points per game this year during the Plainsmen’s three-game run through the Section II tournament.

“It’s felt great, honestly,” said Hicks, who scored a then-career-high 22 points in the semifinals against CBA before dropping 25 against Green Tech in the area title game. “You want to have your biggest games in the biggest moments.”

“This is the best time to be playing your best,” senior guard Kevin Huerter agreed. “Luke’s playing with a lot more confidence, especially coming down the stretch here.”

Hicks’ latest chance to shine comes today at Hudson Valley Community College, where Shenendehowa (23-0) will take on Bishop Ludden (20-3, Section III) in a regional championship game at 1:45 p.m. In last year’s regional title game, Hicks’ contribution was a pair of late free throws that helped Shenendehowa win a thriller against Henninger. With another year of grooming, head coach Tony Dzikas expects much more from Hicks.

“I love the process,” Dzikas said. “I love that sophomore struggle. I love that you’re playing on a state championship team as a sophomore and you’ve got really good players, really physical players, that are going to bump you around and make it hard for you. . . . You don’t walk in here as a freshman or a sophomore and just start to do what you want to do. You have to learn to take your lumps, and you either work through them or you quit.”

For Hicks, practice was where he was tested the most. Matched up against Huerter for every drill and scrimmage, Hicks had his weaknesses exposed on a daily basis. Defensively, he struggled to keep up with Huerter; offensively, Hicks rarely could get his own shot off with the 6-foot-6 Huerter smothering him.

“He’d just kill me,” said Hicks, who grew a few inches in the offseason and now stands 6-foot-4. “He’d phy­sically dominate me.”

Coaches and teammates helped Hicks take it in stride, and he entered this season secure in his spot as a starter. An all-around player that earned praise from rival coaches throughout the Suburban Council, Hicks’ role continued to grow throughout his junior campaign.

“Like, at the beginning of the year, he was a little hesitant to take his jump shot,” sen­ior guard Mike Collins said of Hicks, who made seven 3-pointers during Shenendehowa’s first three playoff games. “He’s really got his confidence now.”

“And Luke’s always had the ability,” said Huerter, who will play at the University of Maryland next season.

With a victory today, Shenendehowa will head back to the Glens Falls Civic Center next weekend for the conclusion of the state tournament. Hicks said the Plainsmen, the state’s top-ranked team, are doing their best to keep the idea of defending their state title out of their minds.

“We can’t look to that yet,” Hicks said.

For Hicks, looking ahead was for last year.


Before the Shenendehowa boys’ squad plays Bishop Ludden, the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team will take on Cicero-North Syracuse at noon. That game will also take place at Hudson Valley Community College, the first of four games today at the venue.

Shenendehowa (21-2) and Cicero-North Syracuse (23-0, Section III) met two years ago in regional action, with the Plainsmen falling 54-53 after a Cicero-North Syracuse player made a game-winning shot in the final seconds.

Both teams return several key players from that game, but Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy said that 2014 matchup was not a scouting tool used for this year’s game.

“I didn’t watch it at all, I really didn’t,” Murphy said. “Our personnel is different and what we do is different. [For] what they’ve done this year, I’ve got a couple films on them [and] it’s different than what they did then.”

What hasn’t changed is that Cicero-North Syracuse remains a top program. Heading into today’s game, the Northstars are co-ranked as the No. 1 girls’ Class AA team in the state.

“You have to respect what they’ve done all year,” said Murphy, whose squad is ranked No. 6. “They get it done. You watch them play and it’s so much fun; it’s so structured and they all know their roles.”

After the Shenendehowa games today at Hudson Valley Community College, Troy (18-5) will take on CBA-Syracuse (21-3, Section III) at 3:30, and Argyle (20-4) will play Moriah (23-0, Section VII) at 5.


Two other Section II basketball teams will play in regional action today.

In the boys’ Class B tournament, Hudson (25-0) will play Ogdensburg (16-8, Section X) at 4:30 p.m. at SUNY-Potsdam.

In the girls’ Class D tournament, Fort Edward (20-3) will play Moriah (12-10, Section VII) at noon at SUNY-Plattsburgh.

Categories: High School Sports

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