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Players to Watch: Palmerton looks to find winning formula

PLAYERS TO WATCH — Pictured from left are Eden senior Brad Palmerton and Hamburg’s Griffin Ryan are among a plethora of local athletes to watch on the hard court.

Brad Palmerton knows better than anyone on the Eden basketball team how long the rebuilding process has dragged on for the Raiders.

That’s why the senior, entering his fourth year with the varsity, can crack a joke and have a little fun about what it’s been like, even as he and his teammates are serious about continuing to move the program forward.

“I feel like we’ve improved from years’ past…That’s what we’re looking for,” Palmerton said. “We’re still rebuilding — well, we’ve been rebuilding for a while now. I think this year we can take big steps.”

And if anyone has the ability to be a leader in that process, it’s Palmerton. The guard, who will play more as a shooting guard this season with teammate Anthony Sinnot playing some point, was a scoring force last season, averaging 16.5 points, which ranked him 32nd in Western New York and sixth in ECIC Division IV.

Eden went from a one-win team to a 3-17 squad last season. Palmerton said with a new coach in Scott Gill, a clean slate for a team returning all but three seniors and a more disciplined mindset, there is some excitement about the prospects for this season.

“Even around the school, a lot of kids are saying they hope we can do better this year,” Palmerton said. “The whole team, I know, is feeling a different attitude. We’re excited.”

Gill said he’s been waiting four years to work direwctly with Palmerton and now he will finally get that chance. Since first seeing Palmerton as a freshman, Gill, the modified coach at the time, has noticed the potential the now senior has lived up to, in many ways.

Gill is hoping to see Palmerton reach his full potential this season, but is also trying to alleviate some of the stress on the guard by asking teammates to pick up their games and help create offensive opportunities.

“If we ask Brad to do too much, it’s not going to work,” Gill said. “He’s really been receptive to what we’re doing. He’s one of the most coach-able kids I’ve ever had.”

Palmerton, who showed such a smooth stroke from the perimeter and behind the arc, will be playing without the ball a little more often, trying to get open. And when attention comes his way, Palmerton said he’ll be trying to set up his teammates, like junior inside presence Hayden Herc.

“Last year, I was able to help my team and hopefully, I can do a little bit more this season — dish some assists, push the tempo a little bit and overall, we can come together as a team and win some games,” Palmerton said.

Also in the spotlight:

Hamburg senior forward Griffin Ryan, who led his team last season, averaging 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. The Bulldogs look to take another step forward and the third-year starter will be a key player in that process.

Lake Shore senior guard AJ Bergum, who is the only full-time starter returning, after posting 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. The athletic Bergum can do it all and will be looked to with a younger Eagles team.

St. Francis senior forward Treyvon Holness, who’s got the size and athleticism to make him one of WNY’s surprising players this year. A 6-foot-7 returning starter, he averaged 8 rebounds and 3 blocks and has upped his offensive game.

Frontier senior guard Caisey Lipka, who, with all-time leading scorer Natalie Galus off to Daemen, will be looked to in picking up some scoring slack. The four-year varsity player is the best candidate to do so.

Hamburg senior Kendra Quinn-Moutlrie, who burst on to the scene last season and helped Hamburg to a surprising run back to the sectional final. This year, there will be no surprises, as she looks to better her averages of 13.6 points and 7 rebounds.

Lake Shore junior forward Melanie Linsmair, who’s brought her athleticism and nose for the ball the past two seasons as a starter. This could be her breakout year scoring, after averaging 11 points last year.

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