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Cleveland Hill High School basketball preview 2012-13

Expectations have risen for Eagles’ boys hoops team

Boy’s basketball at 105 Mapleview Road has been quite the success the last three years as those teams have advanced in sectional play to Buffalo State College each season.

Going 16-3 last season, Cleveland Hill earned the best record the program has had in over a decade. Their 11-1 record against division competition gave them a share of the ECIC IV title, the school’s first since 1989. They went on to lose to CSAT in B-2 Finals at Buffalo State.

“Last year was our best season in recent years,” said 10th-year head coach Jason Przybysz. “The expectations were high, but the season by no means was a ‘gimme.’ After making it to Buffalo State as a repeat team, we proved that we could play. Now, in the position we’re in, expectations are high.”

Coming in as a favorite to win the division, not only are they looking for a fourth straight trip to the state college’s arena on 1300 Elmwood Ave., but also do what no Eagles’ team has done before by winning the Section VI championship game.

“I feel that if we don’t win the division, it would kind of be a disappointment,” said senior Jordan Parker. “One goal is to win the division, but we want to win sectionals, too. We never won the B-2 championship before.”

In his third year on the squad, Parker is a returning starter from a historic Cleve Hill team. He says that Przybysz reminded them everyday in practice how realistic it was for them to take the division crown.

“From the beginning, he always pointed at the banner,” said Parker. “So, he’s told us we had a chance to do it from the beginning.”

But just as last year was no cakewalk, the 2012-13 season will not be, either. The Eagles lost some key elements in skill and size.

“Right now our strength is getting the ball out in transition,” said Przybysz. “We don’t have a true big man, so that situation will be interesting with how it plays out.”

“It’s a big difference in the team this year and last year,” said senior Rayshawn Smalls. “We have a lack of height, but we have a lot of guards. So we’re all quick, we all box out.”

Smalls returns in a starting role this season after being the first name called off the bench last year. Even though a few players are gone, he realizes his new role was not going to be just handed to him.

“My mind-set was to just come in and work hard to earn the spot,” said Smalls.

Cleveland Hill opened up the season at the Lancaster Tip-off Tournament on Nov. 28 and 30, where they have won a title two of the past three years. They return to the court for regular season play, hosting Eden on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

“As the outlook goes — the kids are committed; they work very hard in practice; they know what the expectations are,” said Przybysz. “The bar is set.”

Young Cleve Hill girls squad looking to end season strong

Finishing the season 8-12 and advancing past the first round of the playoffs last year, Cleveland Hill was pretty satisfied with how they ended its season.

The Eagles girls basketball team thinks it can end the 2012-13 basketball season just as strongly, but with a young team and some key injuries, it is prepared for some bumps in the road early on.

“This year’s team is more athletic, but we’re very young, so we have to play a different style,” said third-year coach Bob Platek. “The problem is three starters will be out the first three weeks because of injury.”

One of those starters is senior Jessie Hay, who, as the new girl last year, could not have asked to work with a better group of players.

“We had a lot more height,” said Hay. “We lost more than we won, but we still had fun and till had a good time. Even if we messed up, we worked on everything.”

“Jessie is a great player at any position,” said Platek. “She’s a great shooter, especially at threes. When things get crazy, she’s like the glue that holds everyone together.”

Another senior that will miss the first month is senior Taryn Shepherd.

“Great kid; great teammate,” said Platek. “She’s like a stat-filler. She’ll get anywhere from 8 to 10 points, 7 to 12 rebounds, two steals. She’s very valuable to our team.”

One returning senior that is ready for the start of the season is Keyana Houston. In her third year on varsity, Houston will front the point of attack on both sides of the ball for Cleve Hill.

“She’s lightning fast and plays great defense on the ball,” said Platek. “She’ll be a leader for us this year.”

Transferring over from Maryvale before the start of her junior year, Hay anticipates playing more of a leadership role coming into this season with a team full of underclassmen and middle schoolers.

“It’s a lot more stress I have to handle because they’re so much younger than me,” said Hay. “When it comes down to basketball, I take it really serious. So I want things to be done right and I want them to be done good. I take a lot out of them, but I’m not expecting them to do it perfect the first time.”

With her senior season still one week away, Hay already feels an obligation to mentor the young team, which currently has a roster with a handful of freshmen and sophomores, one junior and three eighth graders, who will all see ample playing time.

“I’m kind of still waiting on what’s going to happen,” said Hay. “These girls are great. I’ll be happy to say that I knew them and got a chance to play with them. I’m hoping just to have them remember me.”

With potential four- and five-year players on this team, an even brighter future seems right around the corner for Cleve Hill. But as long as they can weather the injury-storm this December, the Eagles should continue their season into March once again.

“My goal is to get better everyday,” said Platek. “We definitely want to be competitive. We’re going to have some growing pains because we’re young and we have three starters missing a third of the season. But I think at the end of the year we’ll be a better team.”
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