WHS Boys Hoops Excited For New Year


Ben Grieco, Staff Writer

With many sophomores, and a great group the seniors, the Weedsport Varsity Boys Basketball Team is being coached by a familiar, but new, face – John Sgarlata. However, Sgarlata originally didn’t want to take over the team, due to recent successes with the varsity girls.

“Well, originally I said no, no one asked me, but I had no interest in it, I was happy with being with the girls, and I felt the girls were getting closer and closer to a state title, and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Sgarlata. “After thinking about it for a week…I kind of felt like the boys didn’t have the same experience playing that the girls had…I felt I was ready to have my own program as a varsity coach. I just felt it was the right opportunity at the right time – and I was ready for it.”

 Sgarlata said that this new team will have a fast playing style, to keep the game intense.

“We will be very up-tempo, and the practices are bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, and there’s no standing around, and we practice as one team – varsity and JV together,” said Sgarlata. “We’re playing at a much higher pace.”

With many returning varsity players, including J.J O’Connor, Steve Nemec, and Nick Jones, a new face brings hope for a better result than last season. After a rough 7-11 record last season, some of the players wanted improvement this year.

“It’s exciting, we’re running a lot of things, and we’re getting a lot more guys involved this year,” said O’Connor, entering his senior year. “So it takes a lot of pressure off me, which I’m really happy about. We just have so many weapons.” J.J said that they have a true point guard this year, which is his brother, Jake O’Connor.

The boys also chose captains to represent them in games, and in media days for Section III. O’Connor and Jones were selected as the two senior captains.

“It’s a good experience, I’ve never really been a captain before,” said Jones. “I wasn’t a captain in football, and it’s feels good to be a captain.”

During the rough 7-11 season, just a year ago, the Warriors faced catastrophic events with multiple ACL tears on the starting roster. The tears came during the football season, and some during the basketball season as well.

“I mean, it’s hard to tell, because I don’t have a great grasp on the other teams of the league like I did when I was coaching the girls,” Sgarlata. “I don’t think we’re going to be as good as we were at the end of last year [for the first couple months], because we’re just getting used to a new offense. I don’t know if I can make a prediction, but my goal would be to be a better team than we are now.”

O’Connor was one of many players to tear his ACL during the sports season last year. While being one of the best players Weedsport has seen in awhile, he is closing in on many individual achievements, despite being sidelined for a good portion of the season.

“It had an impact last year, but I don’t think it will affect me that much,” said O’Connor. “It will give me that extra motivation. I worked extremely hard to get back to basketball.” O’Connor hopes to join the 1,000 Point Club that has less than ten names on it.

Jones also has his own individual goals to complete to finish out his Weedsport career: “[I want] to shoot more, I’ve always been kind of passive, always looked to make the pass rather than to shoot.”

With regular season play starting soon, Sgarlata doesn’t have an exact starting roster set up. But many players are looking to contribute.

“With eight seniors, six sophomores, and one junior, I really don’t know who the main features are going to be,” said Sgarlata. “I’m going to use eleven or twelve players in a game, compared to six or seven.”

Six sophomores on one team can be quite rare, especially on a varsity team. Most sophomores in other schools are on junior varsity teams. However, according to Jones, they’ll make a smooth transition.

“I think they’ll be fine; they play AAU, and they’ve played high level basketball,” said Jones. “They’ll be alright.”

With a fresh start, and new expectations, the team also has new goals. “The goals really haven’t changed, especially for us, we want to compete for the league title, the Cayuga County title, and the sectional title,” said O’Connor. “Why not throw in the state title, because that’s what we want.”

As for Sgarlata, he has his own expectations after working under girl’s head coach, Chris Vargason.

“The girls are at the point where they expect to win at the game. I think sometimes the boys take the court, and they’re not sure, and they hope they can win,” said Sgarlata. “That culture and mindset is what I want to install into the boy’s heads.”

Coach Sgarlata and the varsity boys look to have a successful season. If all goes according to plan, the Warriors will take home the county, league, and sectional finals – then they’ll make a run for the state title, however, the boys will have to write their own story. With the ACL-tears in the past, the 2015-2016 season looks bright for the Warriors.