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Niagara-Wheatfield High School basketball preview 2012-13

Senior-led N-W boys basketball team builds into improved team

They boast senior leadership and some quality depth, but most of all the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons boys basketball team understands that every step along the way, good or bad, is all a part of the process of becoming a better team.

As the Falcons enter the 2012-13 campaign, they return three starters and feature six seniors in their top seven roster slots.

Leading the way is senior Jack Mulcahy. a first-team All-NFL selection last season as a guard.

But Falcons coach Erik O’Bryan said that Mulchay is capable of playing every position very well as a solid all-around player.

The rest of Niagara-Wheatfield’s starting five includes seniors Chris Galvano at point guard, Anthony Capuccili at guard, Nick Yarussi and Murray Taylor.

Senior Zack Dubuc and junior Joe Ayers are the first two to come off of the bench, but O’Bryan stated that both are fine players capable of starting if need be.

Never one to get comfortable or satisfied with how things look on paper, O’Bryan is focused on making sure his team knows they will have to work hard everyday.

“We can probably go nine deep, too.” O’Bryan said as he sized up his team. “But it’s early. I’m confident that we have seniors, but that’s about it right now. We have to see how it plays out. There’s guys that might not be in the rotation now that will be as the year goes. That’s how it usually is.”

Looking to improve on the five wins from last season, O’Bryan said that he felt tough non-league games against St.Mary’s of Lancaster and Sweet Home will only make the team better as the season moves along and at their best as a group come playoff time.

But first thing’s first. Dealing with life in an always competitive Niagara Frontier League, O’Bryan’s feels finishing in the top half is certainly within reach.

“I think overall our league has always been pretty competitive,” O’Bryan said. “There’s really no freebie in our league; the kids come to play every night...I would like to be in the top three, personally.”

Now in his third season as varsity coach at Wheatfield after a successful run at North Tonawanda, O’Bryan feels that the program as a whole is moving in the right direction.

“As a group, this is our third year here at Wheatfield and it takes time when you’re trying to do things. It took time in North Tonawanda and it takes time here too,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track as a program, I really do. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm about the program and that’s pretty tough to do

when you had a season like we had last year.

“This is a group of guys that were sophomores when I first got here so I’ve been with them three years.”

Believing that his players have a handle on what he expects out of them, O’Bryan said that if they stick to the basics of solid defense and rebounding on both ends, they should be successful.

Falcons’ girls hoops looks to compete

Life in the Niagara Frontier League is never easy, but the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons girls basketball team knows it can compete with anyone.

Leading the way for the Falcons will be senior co-captains Melissa Smith and Rachel Pawlak.

Speedy guards, Smith and Pawlak both have good ball handling skills and a the ability to hit big shots.

Most importantly, Smith and Pawlak bring leadership and give the Falcons a reliable foundation to build off of as they welcome new faces to the varsity family.

“They show leadership by example,” Falcons coach Diane Fegatilli said. “They both work very hard in practice and come to the gym ready to practice, and they work on their game before we start practice. They push each other.”

The Falcons have also been blessed with height as 6-foot-2 sophomore Allyson Czaja joins the varsity team after a strong freshman season on the junior varsity.

Realizing that virtually every club in the NFL has 6-footer in the post, Fegatilli couldn’t be happier that she has a player who will, in time, go toe-to-toe with the opposing team’s big.

“It’s going to take a while, but I’m think she’s going to hold her own after she gets used to the game ­— the physical aspect of the varsity game,” Fegatilli said. “She’s worked very, very hard on posting. We’ve spent time in practice working on the fundamentals so that soon they’ll become second nature for her.”

Fegatilli said she is focused on developing Czaja as a post player, with her back to the basket.

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