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Basketball Preview: Youth doesn’t deter Lake Shore boys, Lyford from high hopes

BERGUM TO PROVIDE SCORING —Wade Bergum is one of three seniors returning to a much younger Lake Shore lineup this season. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Lake Shore hasn’t been at the top of the heap since moving into ECIC Division III several seasons ago, and this year, promises to be another difficult field with which to contend.

But Lake Shore players, consisting of a mix of four returning seniors with a bunch of talented newcomers, are still setting their sights high and hoping to surprise some people.

When players discussed their goals with first-year head coach Brett Lyford before the start of the season, those aspirations included competing in a division, which includes powers Amherst, Depew, Cheektowaga and Maryvale, and at least making it to Buffalo State for the Class A-2 semifinals.

“We think we have a chance to surprise,” said Lyford, who takes over for longtime head coach Dan Gerken, inheriting a team that finished 7-12 and lost in the Class A-2 quarterfinals. “To beat some of these teams in such a tough division, we’re going to have to work hard and do the little things in every minute we play. We’re not known for being that tough in our division, but they have high hopes that they haven’t had in a while. We need something like that to look forward to.”

Lyford admits he has some big shoes to fill taking over for Gerken, who the new head man said taught him much of what he knows as a coach. Lyford will emphasize being the team that outworks opponents.

“I want us to be the team playing aggressive and tough defense,” said Lyford, who’s in his sixth season with the program. “We’re hoping to make some shots, go after loose balls and outwork teams.”

Senior Wade Bergum is the only full-time starter returning for Lake Shore. The guard, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer in soccer, is a competitor, who can shoot and is good with the ball, according to his coach. He averaged 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds last season. Clark Brueckl, who graduated, led the team averaging 18.3 points in 2012-13.

Wade’s younger brother, AJ Bergum, a sophomore, is slated to take over at the point. Lyford said AJ has held his own against bigger and older competitors, something that’s been instilled in the sophomore playing up with the varsity soccer team the past two seasons.

Colin Hart, who gave the team quality minutes last season, will also start at guard and should be a threat from the outside, Lyford said. Stepping up in the middle has been senior newcomer Tommy Scanlan, who will lead an inexperienced group of forwards. Nate Myers, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, will also see quality minutes up front.

Colin Fiutko is expected to start at the power forward spot, as the third sophomore in a strong class. Fiutko played much of the season as the varsity’s starting quarterback and although he’ll be undersized at the four, Lyford likes the youngster’s athleticism and ability to compete.

Senior Matt Vona will provide a change of pace and quality defense from the guard/small forward position. Junior Phil Wigdor should also see some minutes at guard. Senior Stephen Mcmehan and juniors Joe Bogdon and Brandon Buchanon round out the roster.

“It’s going to take the seniors pushing the juniors and sophomores. The sophomore class has been very competitive at all levels and is not OK with losing,” Lyford noted. “We’ve got depth. We don’t lose much with the guys off the bench, so we’ll look to our rotation and get fresh guys in there.”

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