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JFK boys basketball team looks to better five-win season with core group of players back this year

With the core group of players back from last season, JFK looks to improve upon a 5-15 season. (File photo)
The John F. Kennedy boys basketball team may only have one returning starter from last year’s squad that finished 5-15, but with their core group of players all being seniors, the Bears are looking forward to making their mark for the 2012-13 season.

“We’re really excited to play. This is a really good group,” said 12th-year coach Tony Krupski. “The captains all enjoyed that success from the football team, and we’re hoping that they can carry over that confidence onto the basketball court. A lot of people may not expect much from us, but we’re going to expect a lot from ourselves.”

“Last year was a struggle, but we have better hopes for this year,” said senior Tyler Gabrielli. “We keep ourselves with high standards.”

At press time, JFK began the season 1-0 after a 65-50 victory over Buffalo Arts. Senior Nick Anderson, the lone returning starter from last season, led all scorers with 26 points. He feels that this group will be a lot different.

“Expectations are always through the roof,” said Anderson. “We’re always shooting for the best. We’re hoping for a great season.”

“Nick is such a joy to coach,” said Krupski. “He’ll do everything you ask him to, and the beauty is that he is so versatile. He can play guard. This year he’ll play a little forward because of our size. It’s good that I have a player like that.”

One of the new additions to the starting lineup is senior Zack Walkowski, who will run the point at JFK after playing at Maryvale last year.

“At Maryvale, I wasn’t one of the best on the team, so I wasn’t relied on heavily,” said Walkowski.” Running point guard is pretty hard.”

Senior Joey Burkowski will be the resident big man for the Bears this season after coming off of the bench the previous year.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m up for the challenge,” said Burkowski. “We just have to get better each day.”

“This is the first time in a long time that our size is not one of our strengths,” said Krupski. “We’re going to have to rely a lot on speed and quickness.”

Anderson and Walkowski will be responsible for pushing the tempo all season — something they think they can be successful at with their lineup.

“There are disadvantages and advantages,” said Anderson. “The advantage is we’re a lot faster — we get up the court faster. The disadvantage is that we’re going to have to box out and rebound a lot better than we did last year.”

“This year’s team will push the ball up the court better,” said senior Adam Cartenuto. “We work harder since we’re a little smaller and we have better chemistry since we’re all seniors. Hopefully we can show that on the court and pull through.”

The Bears will play their third game of the season on Monday, Dec. 10 at O’Hara at 6:30 p.m. Their first home game is not until Jan. 11, but as long as they can get through the non-league match ups before then, JFK wants nothing short of what their football team did in the fall, which was a division title.

“To me…I just want to win a championship. That’s it,” said Burkowski.
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