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Basketball Peview: More experienced Eagles looking to use athleticism

The 2012-13 Lake Shore High School varsity boys basketball team includes, from left, first row: Steve McMehen and Matt Vona, Second row: head coach Dan Gerken, Connor Govenettio, Bruce Freidenberg, Wade Bergum, Ryan Joslyn, Colin Hart and coach Bob Lake. Missing from photo: Clark Brueckl and Dane Cala.

It took a few weeks after the first day of winter practices for Dan Gerken to be able to field a varsity basketball team. With the volleyball team extending its season by making it to the state final and two of his juniors colliding face to face early on in practices, Lake Shore’s veteran coach only had two or three of his nine-player roster available to participate.

As most of those players finally return to practice, Gerken will look to a group that is the most experienced Lake Shore team in three years.

“We’re hoping to reap the benefits of a few years of getting experience and that our senior leadership comes through,” said Gerken, coming off a five-win season after winning twice in 2010-11. “We’re keeping the numbers down and trying to play with nine guys. We want them to play hard every minute on the floor.”

Gerken is hoping to use the success seniors Ryan Joslyn, Dane Cala, Connor Govennetio and Clark Brueckl have enjoyed with the volleyball program and the return of junior Wade Bergum, last year’s Most Valuable Player coming off a record-setting soccer season, to catapult the basketball team back into a winner. The senior-laden team also includes returning forward Bruce Freidenberg.

“We’ve got some great athletes and nice young men. If I can figure out where to put them with the Xs and Os to put them in good spots, it will at least be a fun year,” noted Gerken, who credited Brett Lyford for his work as an assistant.

Using that athleticism and scoring points in transition will be important for a smaller team that could struggle to defend and rebound.

“We’d love to play a little more up tempo,” said Gerken. “We were scoring a few more points than we were the past few years so I don’t think putting the ball in the basket will be the issue. Defending has been what we’re working on.”

After becoming the first sophomore ever to be named team MVP at Lake Shore, Bergum went on to break the Lake Shore single-season scoring record in soccer. He’s getting back into shape after recovering from a toe injury he suffered during a playoff soccer game.
Lake Shore senior Clark Brueckl tries to drive past Hamburg's Kyle Violanti. The Eagles will rely on returning players like Breuckl for an improved season.

Bergum will be joined in the backcourt by Cala at the point and Brueckl, who averaged 9.8 points last year, including knocking down a team-high 38 three-pointers. Gerken calls Cala one of the best athletes in the school with a major motor, while Brueckl has expanded his repertoire after playing throughout the offseason.

“He’s become much more versatile,” Gerken said of Brueckl. “He was more of a stand-alone shooter, but now he can drive and finish in the lane and take a jumper off the dribble. He made himself harder to guard.”

Joslyn, a 6-foot-4 forward, returns for his third varsity season off a tremendous volleyball season. “I want to get him the ball in the post and let him operate,” Gerken noted.

Gerken calls Govenettio, also a tennis player and fine student, “a Renaissance Man.’ The 6-foot Freidenberg, who was nominated for the Trench Trophy after the football season, will play power forward. Up from the junior varsity are junior Colin Hart, who’s developed his game in the offseason, and Matt Vona, a good shooter.

Hart has missed some practice after fracturing his nose in a collision with classmate Steve McMehen, who returns to the program after a year away. Gerken noted that McMehen has experienced the biggest turnaround in a young man that he’s seen in his 28 years of coaching.

Although Lake Shore lost only one starting senior in Ryan Spears, a pair of juniors, Tyler Mascio and Andrew John, both of whom had played with the varsity since their freshman seasons, transferred.

The Eagles will not play in the annual Jim Emerson Memorial Tournament, electing to instead open the season in a non-division game Dec. 8 against Eden. The extra time provides the Eagles with more opportunity to prepare for moving down into ECIC Division III, which encompasses playing 14 games.

Lake Shore boys 2012-13 schedule
Sat., Dec. 8 at Eden                     1:30 pm
Wed., Dec. 12 at Amherst              7:30 pm
Tue., Dec. 18 vs. Springville        6:30 pm
Thur., Dec. 20 at Cheektowaga    6:30 pm
Sat., Dec. 22 at St. Francis              5:30 pm
Fri., Dec. 28 at N. Collins            7:30 pm
Thur., Jan. 3 vs. Amherst              6:30 pm
Tue., Jan. 8 vs. East Aurora           7:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 11 vs. Pioneer               6:30 pm
Tue., Jan. 15 at Depew              7:30 pm
Thur., Jan. 17 vs. Maryvale          6:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 25 at Springville               6:30 pm
Tue., Jan. 29 vs. Cheektowaga     6:30 pm
Thur., Jan. 31 at East Aurora        7:30 pm
Mon., Feb. 4 at Pioneer                   7 pm
Fri., Feb. 8 vs Depew                    6:30 pm
Tue., Feb. 12 at Maryvale               7:30 pm
Thur., Feb. 14 vs Hamburg              6:30 pm


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