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High School Boys Basketball: Hamburg runs away with two straight victories

Andrew Sardinia and Hamburg bounced back from two losses over the holiday break by running away with consecutive wins. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Hamburg has embraced the fast-paced, full-court running style that’s resulted in consecutive victories and given its opponents’ fits in those games.

The Bulldogs, who started the season working more of their offense through a few quality bigs inside, went to a full-court trap and press to help them beat Orchard Park 50-30 on Jan. 4 and then West Seneca East 59-36.

It was the first time in nearly decade that Hamburg defeated its cross-town rival Orchard Park, which plays a division size up in ECIC I. The Bulldogs are now 5-4 overall and 2-1 in ECIC Division II.

“For us to beat O.P., who we usually don’t beat, and the way we played to do it, they’re starting to believe in what they’re doing,” said Hamburg head coach Tim Brueckl, whose team bounced back from dropping two winnable games at the Maryvale Holiday Tournament. “We got our guys really flying around and causing teams to hurry what they’re doing and make mistakes.”

Speeding up the game resulted in two significant runs for Hamburg as it pulled away from Orchard Park in the first half. The Bulldogs put together an 18-2 run to end the first quarter after the Quakers had scored the opening basket, then finished the second quarter on a 17-2 run.

Against East, Hamburg ran out to a 9-1 lead, creating some easy baskets using its defense. In addition to holding a second straight opponent to scoring in the 30s, the Bulldogs also used a balanced offensive effort as nine players scored.

“They like the press and the box score sure says that they’re playing good defense,” Brueckl said. “They’re hustling and grinding and keeping it simple — guard, run and shoot. You can see the difference in their play.

Senior point guard Kyle Violanti has been a catalyst for the run-and-gun style as he’s piled up 16 steals over the past two games, including 10 against East. He’s also continued to score with 11 against O.P. and nine in the East game, while dishing out a combined nine assists. As a team, Hamburg had 17 assists against East and piled up 40 steals in the two games.

Brueckl wants to make sure his team doesn’t forget about getting the ball in the post where juniors Griffin Ryan and Jeremiah Bill remain threats, while sophomore Joe DeGrood has returned from an injury to contribute.

Ryan continues to be a force on both ends of the floor, according to Brueckl. He scored 18 points over the two games and had a six-rebound and five-steal effort against O.P. Bill notched a team-high 11 points in the East game and added eight in the contest prior. Hobbled by a foot injury early in the season, DeGrood had nine rebounds against East.

Also for Hamburg, Andrew Sardinia finished with 10 points against East and notched six rebounds in the O.P. game. Also against East, Anthony Guzzetta notched nine points, coming on three makes from beyond the arc. In the two games, Brandon Pierce totaled 11 points and Matt Odre, eight.

Now comes a difficult stretch in the schedule for Hamburg as it faces on the road defending division champion Williamsville South on Friday, Jan. 11, along with Williamsville East (Jan. 15), Sweet Home (Jan. 17) and Iroquois (Jan. 25). After being a middle of the pack team during a 10-10 season last year, Brueckl is eager to see how his team stacks up in 2013.

“We’re going to see what our team is made of and whether we can be a team that challenges in the division,” he noted.

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