Bryan Fulton comes into the season as one of the top players for Timon-St. Jude. (File photo)Despite sore leg, Fulton looking to lead Timon
Playing with an injury is never an easy task. A player’s abilities are hindered, and they aren’t able to perform at the high level that they are used to.
However, at Bishop Timon-St. Jude, playing through pain is starting to become the norm.
After senior Ryan Dougherty played with a torn ACL for nearly the entire football season, fellow senior Bryan Fulton is playing through nagging pain in his left leg stemming from a broken fibula suffered in the football team’s season-opening game back in September.
Despite it being nearly three months since the break, Fulton says that he’s still not where he wants to be.
“Honestly, I think I’m around 70 to 75 percent,” he said. “I can’t really jump like I used to. I’m so used to running the floor and being explosive, and now that I can’t do what I used to, it feels weird.”
Fulton isn’t the flashiest of players on the court — he won’t light up the score sheet with points, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t one of Timon’s top players. In fact, he’s arguably the most important player on the Tigers’ roster.
“He does it all,” said first-year head coach Joe Mihalics. “Whether it’s rebound, always guarding the best offensive player on the opposing team, he does everything out there on the floor.”
Mihalics said that it’s what he does on the court that makes Fulton so dynamic.
“With the ball in his hands, he always makes plays,” he said. “And it’s not all about scoring. It’s finding other guys, and putting us in the right position to run the offense. There’s a lot of things that go into being the guy, the best player, and I feel he’s one of the best all-around players.”
While he appreciates the thoughts of his coach, Fulton feels he still has some work to do.
“I have to still improve my shooting skills, and I’ve been working on that,” said Fulton, who admits that he would still much rather drive to the basket than have to take a jump shot. “Also, my confidence. Once I miss a few shots, I get down on myself. I have to keep my confidence up.”
Even with Fulton being humble about what he does for the team, Mihalics can tell just how much he means to the rest of the team.
“Guys follow him. As he goes, we’ll go,” said Mihalics. “He controls the ball on offense. I’ve asked him to play five positions. He brings the ball up for us, he can play (center), or guard the biggest guy...He can control a game.”
With the Tigers having to learn the system of a new coaching staff, Fulton said that establishing himself as a leader on the team is crucial in making sure everyone else stays confident and comfortable.
“I have to help other players boost their confidence up, and get the team chemistry right. We have to mend together,” he said. “I don’t want anybody on the team to feel uncomfortable.”Timon pegs Palano assistant, Mihalics, as his replacement
When you talk Bishop Timon-St. Jude basketball, one of the first names that come to mind is “Palano.”
The Palanos have been a staple of the Timon community for over half-a-century, and up until this year, every time you stepped foot on the Timon campus, you knew you would see a Palano at the school.
But after 23 years as head coach of varsity basketball, and 39 years at the school, Jim Palano retired from coaching and as the athletics director at Timon to spend more time with his family.
The varsity basketball program that hadn’t had a person without the last name of Palano coaching since 1955. So when the time came to decide who would be the best fit to lead Tigers’ basketball into the future, the choice was quickly made that Palano’s long-time assistant and Timon alum Joe Mihalics would be the guy.
“I’ve been around here for 10 years, and around Mr. Palano since I was a freshman,” said Mihalics, a 2001 graduate of the school. “It means a lot. Knowing the history of the school, knowing with his father, Mel, it’s such a family atmosphere here. It is an honor, a great honor, to be asked to continue it.”
Mihalics said Palano felt more at ease about stepping down because he knew that there was a good crew in place to help the program go forward.
“It helps that Fran (Snyder), Charlie (Comerford), and I are all friends,” Mihalics noted.
Unfortunately for Mihalics, he comes into his first year as head coach without one of his top players. Ryan Dougherty, who suffered a torn ACL in the football team’s season-opening game back in September, will be out for the entire season as he undergoes surgery to repair the injury.
“Losing him (Ryan) on the floor, we’re going to lose a lot, but we’ll make up for it,” said Mihalics.
Senior Bryant Fulton knows that without Dougherty, he will have to step up in other ways.
“Knowing that Dougherty was going to be out, I figured I was going to have to rebound a lot more,” he said. “He was a high post presence. Losing him is a huge thing for the team.”
Fulton said Timon cannot use Dougherty’s injury as a crutch for the team this season.
“It just means everyone has to be ready to step up to fill the roles of others — be ready whenever your name is called,” he said.
Mihalics said that junior Donta Williams is going to be a player that will have to step up as a leader on the team this year in order for them to succeed.
“Williams will be key for us this year,” he said. “He’s a stellar player, he’s great. Athletically, he gets to the basket, he can pull up on guys. He can do it all on offense.”
Williams said that just being believed in by the staff is a great feeling.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “To be named as a guy to be in a leading role, something I didn’t have last year, feels good.”
Having players step up and fill voids left by injuries is something that Mihalics expects his players to be able to handle. He knows how close his team has been over the past couple of seasons.
“We have to get over the hump. We’ve had a lot of good years, trying to make it to the championship game, go to states, and take it to the next level,” he said. “We’ve had very good, competitive teams. The hard work we’ve put in during the summer, building on that, is huge.”
He believes Timon is still capable of putting together a run.
“We started last Monday (Nov. 19) while other teams have started on Nov. 5,” he said. “I really feel that we have the athletes to do it this year, and we had a great summer of basketball.”