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Basketball Preview: Falcons look to ride competitive drive this season

LICATA A DRIVING FORCE — Senior AJ Licata will be a leader among five players that saw significant playing time last season. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Each of the past 28 seasons, Gary Domzalski has been taking his Frontier basketball teams to Bishop Timon for a scrimmage to see how his latest group stacks up against what’s been a traditionally physical and good team from South Buffalo.

This year’s Frontier team showed plenty of drive in the game, which Domzalski hopes will be a good sign for the 2013-14 season.

“I’m looking for competitiveness,” Domzalski said about playing his alma mater in that game. “I know they’re pretty tough kids over there, so I want to see how we react, and we were competitive.”

Much of Frontier’s toughness this season should come from five returning players — four of whom are seniors — that all saw some time on the court last season during a 9-10 season, in which the Falcons were upset by West Seneca West in the Class AA quarterfinal round.

Among them is the senior forward AJ Licata, who is the epitome of desire and hustle, according to his coach. Licata has the quickness and ability to drive of a small forward, but plays like a power forward and should contribute on the glass. The star linebacker in football is also valuable on the defensive end because he can guard a forward or guard, according to Domzalski,.

Fellow senior Erik Hatten has developed his scoring touch, according to Domzalski, and should be a big contributor, playing either forward or guard. Hatten comes off a big volleyball season. David Rajski and Pat Quinlivan, both 6-foot-4 forwards, will be looked to in picking up some of the slack rebounding. Rajski can also step out and drain a bucket, while the gritty Quinlivan has developed his offensive skills, Domzalski said.

Junior Jay Bergmann also returns from last season, as a guard, with improved ball skills and an even better shot. He’ll also guard the opponent’s best player in the backcourt, his coach noted. “Jay has shown great improvement and put a lot of time in during the offseason,” noted Domzalski.

Stepping in to significant varsity roles at guard will be juniors Mike Evancho and Jake Gleason, while 6-foot-4 senior Nick Shaul will come of the bench to help Frontier on the glass. Though Domzalski said the team doesn’t have a true point guard, with the loss of Kevin Marcinkowski to graduation, he pointed out that Gleason and Evancho can shoot the outside shot and see the floor well.

Two seasons removed from making it to the sectional semifinals at Buffalo State, Domzalski hopes to better last season’s showing, but an already difficult division may have gotten even better. Jamestown, Williamsville North and Clarence, who finished one through three in ECIC I, respectively, with Frontier taking fourth, bring back an array of talent. Also, Domzalski believes West Seneca West and Lancaster will be no slouches, either.

“If we can rebound, as a group, and get some points inside from our smaller guys, we should be OK,” Domzalski said.

Frontier finishes hosting the annual Town of Hamburg Lions Club Tournament on Friday, Dec. 6 with varsity action and the next day, with the junior varsity. Championship and consolation games will be played between the host, Hamburg, St. Francis and Lackawanna.

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