By Terrance Gavan – Voice Sports
A whole passel of senior hoopsters are taking a victory lap this year, and coach Roland Zilla, who is probably going to pack it in after this season, is expecting a lot from his core group of returning seniors.
“Some of these guys have been with us for five years and it’s a great group of returning players,” said Zilla.
The seniors are already nine games into a busy season.
They’ve played two three game tournaments, the most recent a two day long pop in North Bay last weekend.
They boast a 4-5 overall record and are 1-1 in Kawartha league play.
Once again Zilla will be contending with stiff competition from Lindsay’s IE Weldon and LCVI, and Fenelon Falls Falcons a triumvirate of AAA schools with large enrolments and players who have access to tons of representational league options in the major centers.
“I was happy with our showing at North Bay,” said Zilla. “We played Timmins High School, who are very strong and we did well to stay within 28 points of them. We beat Sault Ste. Marie and lost our other game, but it was a good tourney for us.”
Zilla said that the true measure of his squad might spin on a recent victory over St. Thomas Aquinas.
“The St Thomas game was our best game of the year,” said Zilla. “St Thomas won the COSSA championship last year and we just played a tremendous game.”
The senior Hawks beat the Trojans 52-34. Jesse Lefebvre and Luke Watson had 14 points apiece, and Damon Flatman – in his first year of senior ball after a stunning junior career – had 11 points.
Zilla says that with the exception of a superlative IE Weldon squad, most of Kawartha, including the Peterborough area clubs, can be had. He said that Weldon is the early season favorite.
“We have a good group of returning Grade 13s (victory lap players) and a solid group of Grade 11 players,” said Zilla. “Luke (Watson) is back and Jesse Lefebvre is becoming a dominant center. We also rely on Jesse Walker Chris Allison, Caleb Zilla, Josh Dennys and Justin Levely for senior leadership.
Unfortunately one of the leading lights on last year’s squad, Andrew Elia is filling a spot between the pipes for the senior Hawks hockey team. Zilla said that Elia will be missed. Dave Waito and Walter Tose will be assisting Zilla this season.
Keys to success this season?
“We need more out of Luke and he needs to be more of a finesse player,” said Zilla. “Jesse Lefebvre can jump out of the gym, but the guy that’s really coming through is Chris Allison. He’s been working very hard on his game and he can score. The league is really equal except for Weldon, and we can compete with the Peterborough teams as well.
“The kids that are all returning have been here for five years and are loyal to the program made the commitment in grade nine
They play their home opener on Tuesday, Dec 14 and are on the road against Fenelon Falcons today.
Junior Hoops looking solid
Paul Longo and Martin Gage are sharing coaching duties with the junior Red Hawks hoop squad this year.
Longo says that every year is a rebuilding year in junior ball but he seems pretty confident that his Hawks will be competitive this season.
“We’re one and two overall this season,” said Longo, this week. “We’ve got size, speed and a pretty good bench and we’re pretty competitive in our league. We’ve got some good grade nines and carrying 14 player – eight Grade 10s and six Grade 9s.”
The nucleus of the team consists of returning players Louis Ferracutti, Tanner Ballantyne, Zach Cox and Kieran Poropat.
“We also have some Grade 10 players who didn’t play for us last year including Jordan Hamilton and Cooper Shurlock,” said Longo.
Cox will be the go to guy down low and has already started to impose himself. He scored 14 and popped for 14 boards in a loss to Fenelon Falls.
Longo is expecting a breakout year for Cox who was the team’s best player inside the paint last season.
“I’m expecting him to be scoring and rebounding well for us this year and then we’ll have to see how the rest of the team fits in,” said Longo.
Home opener for both squads goes next Tuesday afternoon at the Hawks Nest.