Friday December 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
EAGLE IN THE SKY — North Collins’ Zane Lloyd takes to the sky during the season opener at Gowanda. The senior will play a bigger role, with the Eagles graduating most of their starters. Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt.
In his second season as head boys basketball coach, Rob Catalino is looking at a rebuild for North Collins.
However, he’s found some enjoyment in starting from the beginning with this group, after last season’s team depended heavily on its seniors, including the program’s second all-time 1,000-point career scorer Jared Keppel.
“I’ve been teaching the basics and slowly going through the skills that need to be accomplished to play at this level,” said Catalino, coming off a 9-10 season, in which the team fell a round short of qualifying for the Class D semifinals, losing in its home playoff opener. “These kids don’t play the sport a lot so they need to learn how to compete in game situations.”
In searching for some scoring, Catalino will look to three seniors that saw time on the floor last season. They are center David Fera and guards Zane Lloyd and Jake Fyock. All are serving as captains, as well.
Fera helps keep the team together on the court as a leader, while Lloyd, is a top-notch athlete, coming off a stellar soccer career, who Catalino will look to in creating offense and finishing. Fyock should be very active on the court, this year, as well, according to Catalino.
Dylan Mercado, a ninth grader, has already broken into the starting lineup as a guard, while juniors Matt Parnitske and Aaron Strauss and senior Kyle Loretto should also see time this season. All can play at the guard or forward spots.
Juniors Conner Dosser and Kyle Luther and senior David Weber round out the roster. Catalino said before the end of the season, freshmen Harley Mehnert and Zach Schroder and eighth grader Brandon Zielinski will find themselves playing some minutes at the varsity level, as well. Schroeder was described by Catalino as the program’s best pure shooter.
“We’ve got some kids starting the year at the JV that may be playing up at some point,” he noted.
The Eagles had been building the past several seasons toward making a bid for the sectional semifinals but were derailed a bit last season by injuries. This year, expectations are more modest but Catalino still expects his team to be competitive.
With the realignment of CCAA divisions to pit teams closer in proximity against one another, North Collins got a bit of a break. Class D powers Sherman and Clymer are no longer in the division, but Catalino said this group still may have a hard time with the likes of powerful teams from Ellicottville, Forestville and Franklinville.
He does see his Eagles being able to compete a little better with Pine Valley and West Valley.
Off to an 0-1 start, North Collins will play at the Gowanda Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 7.