There are some changes to the boys basketball scene this season, with the overriding one concerning the divisions in which the players will compete.
In the Foothills Council, each team will play every other team twice, instead of the previous twice-in-division and once-out-of-division. That’s an additional five league games, for a total of 18, leaving Foothills teams just two non-league games. There also will be no championship game between division winners.
In the Adirondack League, Hadley-Luzerne drops to Division 2 and Warrensburg moves up to Division 1.
With the addition of Berlin, the Wasaren League now has two divisions: the Hudson (larger-sized schools) and Battenkill (smaller schools). Because of that, the league will have a championship game at the end of the regular season and before sectionals.
As for some local teams to watch, Lake George heads the list. With three returning all-state players from last year’s state finalist team, the Warriors should be a force in Class C once again. Section II Class B champion Glens Falls lost some key players to graduation, but still returns one of the state’s best players in junior guard Joseph Girard III. Likewise, Class D sectional champion Argyle lost state Class D co-player of the year Kobe Lufkin to graduation, and has five sophomores, but one of them is sharpshooter Peyton Lufkin.
Glens Falls: Obviously, the Indians’ fortunes will follow those of their star guard, Joseph Girard III, who has grown to 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. He averaged 36.4 points per game last season. Aaron Sampson, Justin Holness and Noah Balcom also return in the backcourt, as do Quinn and Trenton Girard. Glens Falls lost its height, however, as Andrew Stamatel and Greyson Brady graduated, and Justin Thomasen moved to Florida. Senior Jaquob Bushey (6-4, 275) and sophomore Nick Danahy (6-5, 215) will provide most of the minutes in the paint.
Hudson Falls: The Tigers have a big void to fill with the graduation of leading scorer Cam Jett, but first-year head coach Chris Cottrell has a nice blend of players to try to do that. Guard Riley Maddison is only a sophomore, but a returning starter who averaged 8.8 points last season. Also returning are guards Connor Hermanson and Caleb Condon. Six-foot-three Tariq Minix gives the Tigers some height.
Queenbury: The Spartans have three returning starters from last year’s team, led by point guard Cam Bleibtrey, who averaged 11.5 points last season and made 34 3-pointers. The other two returning starters are guard Patrick Conway, whose athletic versatility is a plus and who averaged 8 points per game last year, and swing man Jeff Van Anden.
Schuylerville: The Black Horses have a good core of returning players from last year’s 8-13 team. Leading the way is junior shooting guard Stratton Sherman. He led the team in scoring last season with a 16-points-per-game average. Also returning are guards Nick Budesheim and Paul Harshbarger. Josh Mason adds height as well as some 3-point touch. Schuylerville made 14 3-pointers in its season opener, so it has to be respected beyond the arc.
South Glens Falls: The Bulldogs will try to improve on offense from a 1-20 campaign last season. Leading the list of returners is Sam Maziejka, who had six double-digit scoring games last year and became a reliable scorer. Also among the returners are Kevin Amberger and point guard Cam Beccerril.
Argyle: Losing Section II’s all-time leading scorer in Kobe Lufkin, as well as backcourt mate Jonah Horton, to graduation is obviously a hit, but the Scots have Kobe’s younger brother Peyton, a 5-8 sharpshooter, to soften the blow. Andrew Facin, Chris Reynolds and Garrett Caprood also return for the Scots, and despite new roles will be looked to to help the younger players adjust. How quickly that adjustment takes place should determine the Scots’ success.
Corinth: Dawson DeLisle, the Tomahawks’ leading scorer last year with 15.1 points per game, returns at shooting guard, and can drive or spot up. Other returners include versatile guard Shawn Tedesco, Colt Guilder, who should help with scoring, and Garrett Wood, Nic Moses and Dillon Dumas. The Tomahawks lost three starters to graduation, but have a good mix of players who can play multiple defenses and run the transition on offense.
Fort Ann: The Cardinals are a young group looking for their own identity after the 58-9 run of the last three years, fueled by the graduated Tyler Mattison, Jeremy Johnson, Garrett Bailey and Jon Allen. Junior Luke Loso, who can play inside and outside, will be counted on for leadership, as the team has just one senior, as well as a freshman and a sophomore in the starting lineup.
Fort Edward: The Flying Forts lost some experience, as well as a jack of all trades in Austin Young, to graduation, but there are some returners with quality minutes under their belts. Forward Anthony Miller will be the primary inside scorer and rebounder. James Bombard is expected to be a solid 3-point shooter, while sophomore point guard Hassaun Judge will need to distribute and score.
Granville: The Golden Horde’s resurgence last year will be a bit harder to follow due to heavy graduation losses, but they still have talent. Senior Matthew Parker averaged 12.4 points and was the team’s leading rebounder. Junior guard Nick Sumner missed much of last season to injury, but returns and brings two-way skills. Bart Bartholomew also returns and will have to contribute scoring and rebounding.
Hadley-Luzerne: The Eagles will be led by senior guard Connor Backus, a reliable outside shooter and veteran player. Also, the versatile Jackson Diamond can do damage in the paint or from the outside. The Eagles would like to play an up-tempo offense and spread the scoring. The drop down to Division II brings its challenges, as Whitehall Argyle and Salem are no easy tasks.
Hartford: The Tanagers lost leading scorer Nate Leise to graduation, but return a good number of players to make them a cohesive squad. Gavon Darfler began his career with a double-double, so he should provide Hartford with an inside presence. Adam Mitchell will also help with scoring and rebounding. Lucas Casey is another returning player.
Lake George: The Warriors reached the Class C state final last season, and based on the returning and incoming talent, there’s no reason to believe there should be a letdown. With the return of all-staters Caleb Scrime, Alex Jones and Mason Flatley, the cupboard starts well-stocked. Add to that the play of late-season call-ups Connor Vidnansky at guard and the 6-7 Chris Becker in the middle, in addition to 6-2 junior Riley Orr, a transfer from Queensbury, as well as several other quality contributors off the bench, and the Warriors look to be in position to make another long postseason run.
North Warren: Coach Jeremy Whipple believes his team needs to rebound and play defense foremost in order to be successful. Stephen Monroe is a three-year varsity player who will be looked to to make shots and lead defensively. Joe Phelps is the defensive go-to guy, while Jack Buckman should be the Cougars’ primary rebounder. Brandon Olden is a first-year point guard who will have to add to every aspect for North Warren.
Salem: The Generals lost leading scorer Andrew Terry to graduation, but are hopeful that senior Nate Holmes will take over that role and also lead the team in other ways. Sophomores Brady Nichols, Thomas DiDomenico and Bryan Ferguson should help Salem’s outside shooting. Matt Braymer, Nick DiDomenico and Phil Mazzucco will help in the post.
Warrensburg: Coach Mike Perrone’s goal is a winning record, and he’s got eight returning players to help him achieve it. Senior Garry Ross is the top returning scorer (10.3 ppg last season), while also adding 5.6 rebounds per game. Evan MacDuff added 8.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Junior Brandon Bailey should help with scoring, while Cole Lanfear and John Kelly will help with ballhandling duties.
Whitehall: The Railroaders have a top weapon in guard Evan St. Claire, but also have some inside clout with Danny St. Clair, who averaged 7.4 points per game and helped with rebounding. Whitehall just missed out on the league semifinals last season and has that goal squarely in their sights.
Cambridge: The Indians finished at .500 last season, and have designs on getting above that mark this season. Brenden Holcomb is the leading returning scorer, averaging 12.8 points last year and providing an inside presence with his 6-4 frame. Cambridge has height depth this year, with 6-4 Nathan Genevick, 6-3 Tristan Williams and 6-7 Jacob Peters.
Greenwich: The Witches had some graduation hits, but return a balanced scoring unit and have some depth. John Walsh knocked down 14 3-pointers last year. Greenwich also has decent athleticism in the paint with Carson Mosher, who also has 3-point ability and scored 24 in the Witches’ opener, and Josh James.
Hoosick Falls: The Panthers have a good cast of returning players, as Guy Milliman averaged 13.3 points last season, while Evan McCart scored 11.1 ppg. CJ Baker and Jonathan Kempf are also veterans who should help Hoosick Falls make a run at the league title this season.
Saratoga Catholic: All-league guard Terel Tillman leads a talented bunch of Saints. Tyler Haraden was the third-leading scorer last season and has good 3-point range. Sam Haraden and Ryan McFadden are strong defensive players. The 6-5 Sean Englert will help clean up the glass, while Aiden Dagastino was the JV’s leading scorer as a freshman last season.
Bolton: Sophomore Kevin Neacy leads the returning Eagles, as he can attack the basket and finish. The Eagles are small, so team rebounding will be essential. Seniors Jacob Beebe, RJ DeMeo and Michael Galvin have to help with all-around play. Josh Baker should be solid in the post, while Craig Wholey will be a 3-point threat. Adam Seamans and Jayden Mignot will have ballhandling duties.
Johnsburg: Leading scorer Jim Morris graduated, however the Jaguars’ starting five return from last year. Dawson West, Logan McKinney and Connor Cavanagh will work the perimeter. Nat Kinblom and Calab Buck will be important under the basket. First-year coach Dave Cavanagh wants his team to be aggressive defensively.
Ticonderoga: The Sentinels hung with Lake George in the regional finals, and two of their best players in Evan Graney and Colton Huestis return. Graney can do whatever is needed, while Huestis is Ti’s top 3-point threat. Ethan Thompson will help the Sentinels in the paint.