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Kenmore East High School basketball preview 2012-13

After Kenmore East depended on a few star players last year, the Bulldogs will look more to a team concept in 2012-13. (File photo)

Bulldogs look to an array of players to contribute

Everyone has a chance to be a star this year as the Kenmore East Bulldogs boys basketball team heads into the new season with a different look, much different.

Recently, the Bulldogs had been built around jump off the page stars like PJ Blanch and Dante Bono, who could single-handily take over a game.

This year, it’s going to be about working as a group and everyone getting an opportunity to make a difference.

“It’s different than what it’s been like the last five or six years,” head coach Jay Robbins said. “But they do a pretty nice job of it, actually. And it’s still sort of developing so it’s hard to say what roles are going to be what.”

What this group may lack in terms of pure basketball skill, they more than make up for with a strong desire to learn and improve. They have what might be the strongest work ethic than any other group Robbins has seen in years.

“Because there’s no super standout you have to learn how to work together, you can’t rely on one guy to get all the points,” Robbins noted.

Robbins said that his team has more size across the board and some decent shooters. So even though the Bulldogs don’t have a game-breaking scorer just yet, they do have enough kids that can sink eight-to-12 points a game.

“We do have a lot of effort,” senior point guard Pat Schroeder said. “Everybody has the desire to win. And it’s not that everybody just wants to succeed as an individual; everyone wants to succeed as a team. I think that’s definitely going to be one of the key factors this year.”

Leading the way for Ken-East will be Schroeder, who was the starting two-guard last year playing along side PJ Blanch.

Though Schroeder’s pass first approach to the game is a departure from Bono and Blanch, both of whom excelled by shooting first, he should keep the ball moving enough to ensure that everyone gets a quality amount of touches. While Blanch and Jakie Daniels could always be counted on to score, spreading the ball around means everyone will be more at ease when it comes their time to shoot.

“Everybody’s going to be more relaxed and more involved,” Schroeder said.

Joe Cole, Mike Crawford, John Bender, Jack Steliano and Deion Brown join Schroeder as the projected top six on the depth chart.

Adam Geib, 6-foot-4 Ryan Flynn and 6-foot-2 Andy Fields have also been impressive in training camp and are in position to see quality minutes, too. Antoine Davis, Aaron Cannon and Ray-Shawn Bouyette have also shown a tremendous upside and ability to contribute.

Robbins added that his players hung tough game in and out against strong opponents during the summer. If they keep bringing the same blue collar mentality and learning as they go, anything can happen.

“So far, so good. It’s been very, very enjoyable,” Robbins said. “It’s been a lot of fun. They’ve got great attitudes; they listen.”

Bulldogs look to an array of players to contribute

It’s a new season, and more importantly, a new togetherness as the Kenmore East Lady Bulldogs basketball team marches into its second season under coach Kristy Bondgren

The Bulldogs will look to senior captains Ashley Kirbis, Jessica Hyland and Kaitlin Cavanaugh to lead the way. Bondgren has faith that her captains will set the right tone in terms of character, as well.

“I expect the leadership from the returners, on the floor and off the floor, because it’s not just what we do in these 94 feet and they know that,” Bondgren said. “And I think that they have started to realize that, which is a big part of where our success will come from — who we are and what we are as a team off the floor.”

Kirbis said the most important message she, Hyland and Cavanaugh wanted to relay to the rest of the team is that its success comes first and being a family is crucial. A team meeting to answer any questions and concerns from new players has gone a long way in showing underclassmen that the seniors are putting the team first.

“It’s definitely very comforting to (know) we’re not going to have any problems with them coming to us with any issues they have,” senior Kaitlin Cavanaugh said. “They’ve already talked to us about practices and what they expect out of us, so it’s really good to hear.”

Cavanaugh, who was medically unable to take part in the first eight practices, likes what she has seen from the newcomers thus far.

“Sitting on the sidelines, not being able to play, I’ve been observing a lot and looking at the younger kids,” Cavanaugh said. “And I see that the younger kids are really stepping up and showing that they’re ready to be on a varsity level team and they’re really adapting to us and warming up to the older kids, and that’s good to see. They have a lot of confidence coming out here.”

Junior point guard Julia Snitzer and sophomore Sarah McCarthy also return. Snitzer is a quick, smart player with good ball handling skills. McCarthy, a 6-foot forward, will be a force in the paint.

New faces include Kendall Mills, an eighth grader, who has a strong basketball I.Q. and is the younger sister of former Bulldogs, Kacie and Emily Mills. She will play two-guard and the point.

Renee Haase and Ashley Burst are up from junior varsity, while Hannah Emminger played at St.Amelia’s

and Kiaja O’Neill made the leap from modified.

Going against conventional that a team needs at least 12 players, Bondgren is confident that the 10 girls on her team can get it done.

“We don’t need to meet any sort of status quo,” she said. “If I have 10 kids that are going to get the job done, that’s all we need.”

Bondgren said it’s just a matter of meshing her experienced players and the youngsters into one unit.

“I think some of my returners are more comfortable stepping up being leaders, being themselves,” Bondgren said. “I feel like there’s a lot more personality with this group of kids. It’s early but they’re already starting to develop an identity as a group.”
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