As the 2021-22 high school basketball season entered the new year, things started to take shape within the league and class standings. Midway through the season a number of teams started to stand out as section leaders including Oakfield-Alabama, Le Roy and Caledonia-Mumford, while Notre Dame, Wheatland-Chili and a few others are absolutely in the mix.
After last winter’s short season and the graduation of a number of talented players, individual personalities weren’t as obvious to start the season as they perhaps were in the past. And while a fair amount of talent returned, few had been their team’s player of choice in the past except Cal-Mum senior Kyle Wade.
OA mentioned above lost a lot of his section winning team, Batavia lost almost his entire roster, Pembroke knew he was going to be talented but young and relatively inexperienced and Notre Dame was going to be without his best player due to a injury – to name a few of the question marks ahead of the season.
However, a number of players started to stand out midway through the campaign and now is a good time to start watching some of the athletes who will likely be in contention for the Daily News Player of the Year award. Fab-5. come march.
Past winners of this award include Owen Thompson of Attica (2016-17), Tyler Cowie of Perry (17-18), Ryan Davis of Alexander (18-19), Vinny Molisani of Cal-Mum and Colton Dillon of ‘Elba (19-20) and Batavia Zach Gilebarto (20-21). So, there are high seasons to be experienced.
Here’s a quick look at some of the male basketball players on our radar as January moves forward (in no particular order):
Despite the loss of many key players from last season’s squad that won their first Section V title since the 1970s, Oakfield-Alabama didn’t miss a beat this winter. Ryan Stehlar appears to have another behemoth on his hands as the Hornets reached a 7-0 and did so impressively, scoring over 23 points per game. With that, three seniors have had an impressive start to the season.
Fourth-year college forward Kam Cusmano is leading the way as he has been one of the most dominant players around, averaging 22 points and over eight rebounds per game. His twin brother, Kaden – another four-year-old – is also in the mix as he averages 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists per game. Senior guard / striker Gaige Armbrewster is no slouch. After a formidable football season, Armbrewster is successful on the pitch, averaging 15 points and a team record of six assists per night.
The Hornets were in action Friday night at home against their rival Notre Dame.
Caledonia-Mumford senior goaltender Kyle Wade proves once again that he is one of the best players around for one of the best teams in the region.
The Raiders got off to a 7-1 start in the final season with head coach Dan Dickens on the sidelines and Wade led the way. The longtime varsity player has hit the 1,000-point plateau for his career, as this winter he tallied the stats sheet to 21.5 points per game with 9.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.8 interceptions per night.
Cal-Mum’s only loss this year was against a strong Le Roy team, while the Raiders were in Bath-Haverling on Friday and will be at Avon on Saturday.
Despite a stunning loss to York earlier in the week that momentarily ended the Oatkan Knights’ impressive run, they have certainly proven to be a team that is in the mix for what is an elusive section title at Le Roy. And in the first month and more of the season, it’s senior goaltender Mitch Hockey and second-year forward Merritt Holly, Jr. who have outdone themselves.
Hockey was recently named the MVP of the Batavia Lions Club Grand Schools Tournament after Le Roy beat Attica for the title, averaging 16.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds and two steals per game.
Meanwhile, Holly, Jr. has grown into one of the best players in the LCAA with two more years to go. Holly, Jr. is averaging a monster double-double of 23.1 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Le Roy hosted Rochester Prep on Friday night and the Knights host Letchworth next week.
After a tough season last winter, the Dragons are off to an impressive start to the 2021-22 campaign at 7-2, with losses to undefeated Oakfield-Alabama and a strong Section VI St. Mary’s team. And they are doing it with young guns that will be there for at least a year.
Junior guard Cayden Pfalzer was named MVP after Pembroke won the Akron tournament title late last month and he is one of the region’s top scorers, averaging 22 points per game.
Not far behind is second-year guard Tyson Totten, who averages 18.8 points per game, while junior point guard Jon Suro has been the point guard and leading the team in assists. Totten and Suro have both been named to Akron’s overall tournament squad.
The Dragons host Albion on Saturday and have a big league game with Notre Dame on Tuesday.
THE BALANCED EFFORT OF NOTRE DAME
In head coach Mike Rapone’s last season, the Fighting Irish got off to a strong 7-2 start and they do without, arguably, their best player as a senior Colin McCulley was injured in the ACL.
In McCulley’s absence, it was two junior guards who paved the way for Notre Dame in Jordan Welker and Jimmy Fanara. Point guard Welker is averaging 15.1 points per game with a team record 5.7 assists with 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals, while Fanara leads the team with 16.9 points per game to do with 4.7 rebounds, two assists and 1.6 steals per night.
Notre Dame had a tough clash on the road with undefeated OA on Friday night.
DON’T SLEEP ON BYRON-BERGEN
At 6-3 to start the season, the Bees had one of their best openings in years, with losses only to Elba, Notre Dame and defending champion Wheatland-Chile and many other premier teams. plan, BB did with balanced effort.
Senior forward Corden Zimmerman has been a beast in the post and is averaging 18.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, as he also set the program record for points in a game earlier in the season. Meanwhile, junior guard Gianni Ferrara is enjoying his best varsity season averaging 14.8 points, a team-high 5.6 assists, 3.3 steals and three rebounds per night.
The Bees played a game with Kendall on Friday and have one with Holley on Tuesday before a big clash with Pembroke next Thursday.
MORE STARS CLIMB TO THE TOP
Alexander is 4-4 and the fact was a small formation and the Trojans have senior goaltender Nick Kramer as their pace maker. Kramer is averaging a team-high 18 points and 7.1 rebounds per game with 2.1 steals per night. Alexander had a tough game with Wheatland-Chile on Friday night.
Quietly, Dansville has taken six straight wins to move up to 6-2 this season after tough and close losses to Avon and Cal-Mum to start the year and fourth-year college senior Drew Morrow is having his best season at this day. The 6-5 forward averages a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds per night. The Mustangs faced Keshequa on Friday and have a tough game in Livonia next week.
York came off their biggest win of the season earlier in the week when the Knights knocked out Le Roy. At 5-3 before Friday night, York had won four of its last five games and junior guard Maddox Timothy became the leader with 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and three assists per night.