Weekly Feature

2010-12-01 / Sports

Marauders out to avenge early elimination

Boys Basketball

St. Joe’s Steve Moser lays up a shot against a Cheektowaga defender last week in a scrimmage at Cheektowaga Central High School. Moser is one of several senior leaders for the Marauders this season. Photo by Daniel Rosati Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com St. Joe’s Steve Moser lays up a shot against a Cheektowaga defender last week in a scrimmage at Cheektowaga Central High School. Moser is one of several senior leaders for the Marauders this season. Photo by Daniel Rosati Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com For the first time in 10 years, the St. Joe’s Marauders failed to advance past the first round of the Monsignor Martin Association playoffs in 2010. The Marauders have reloaded, though, for 2011 and are determined to make sure that won’t happen again.

St. Joe’s 2009-10 season came to an end on Feb. 21 with a loss to Bishop Timon-St. Jude in the Manhattan Cup quarterfinals at Canisius College. It was a heartbreaking ending for the Marauders, as Timon’s Mike Scarcello forced overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Tigers ran away with the overtime to eventually win, 61-54. The Bishop Timon loss was one of several close losses the Marauders suffered throughout the season as they struggled to a 12-13 overall record. Head coach Mark Simon said things just did not go his team’s way at times in close games.

“The basketball gods were not on our side in the close losses,” Simon said. “We had three nailbiters that came down to the final shot. It was just not to be. Our kids fought hard, but the gods were against us.”

The Bishop Timon loss ended the career of Kyle Wojciechowski, a three-year starter who was an MMA all-star and the Marauders’ go-to scorer in big spots.

“We ’ll miss him, but we have the guys to step up and replace him.” Simon said.

The Marauders do have a bunch of experienced guys coming back who should be counted on to lead the way for St. Joe’s.

Second leading scorer Connor Rehbaum will be back for his senior season after averaging 12 points a game last season as a junior. Rehbaum also led the team with 149 rebounds, an average of six per game.

“He’s an outside scorer,” Simon said of Rehbaum. “He’s our shooter, but he plays a well-rounded game. I expect him to be one of many threats for us.”

Other threats include 6-foot-5 senior forward Jake Spitler, 6-foot-4 senior forward Tom Escott and senior point guard Steve Moser. Fellow seniors A. Keith Louie and Edward Zirnheld will be counted on for leadership.

The Marauders’ senior leaders will be supported by a talented junior class. The most recognizable name is forward Chad Kelly. He is better known for being the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and for quarterbacking the Marauders to the MMA League AA football title in November. Kelly saw significant time for St. Joe’s last season as a sophomore after transferring from Pennsylvania and will be relied on even more this year.

Fellow junior John Dziewit comes up to the team after starring for the JV squad last season. “He’s a young man with a lot of talent,” Simon said of Dziewit. “He had a great season on JV and is expected to get better with us.”

Perhaps the Marauders’ biggest addition, both literally and figuratively, is 6-foot-7, 225-pound junior Reggie Agbeko. Agbeko transferred to St. Joe’s this summer from the African nation of Ghana. Simon said Agbeko was one of the best young players in Ghana before coming over to the United States. He will be counted on as an inside scorer for the Marauders. Simon said Agbeko will have some learning to do in order to become adjusted to American basketball and American lifestyle.

“There’s a lot of transitions he has to go through, obviously, in life and, of course, the weather coming from Africa to Buffalo,” Simon said. “The style of basketball is different, too. They play more of a street ball (in Africa). We ’re more structured. He has a lot of plays and terms to learn. There will be a period of time for that. While he learns, he’ll be practicing with the team. He works hard and should be a great asset to the community.”

Agbeko will add to one of St. Joe’s biggest strengths, their height. The Marauders have very few players under 6-feet tall and include players who are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7.

“We have a lot of depth and a lot of height,” Simon said of the team’s biggest strengths. “They’re pretty big and have a lot of athletic ability.”

The Marauders will once again have a difficult league schedule and will also face tests from schools like Middle College, Grover Cleveland, Sweet Home, Niagara Falls, Lackawanna and Riverside. They will also face Rochester schools Aquinas and Bishop Kearney and will participate in the Christian Brothers Academy Holiday Tournament in Syracuse at the end of December. The difficult schedule should prepare the Marauders for league play and the Manhattan Cup playoffs, where Simon expects his team to bounce back after being knocked out so early last year.

“Our goal is to win the Manhattan Cup first, then take each playoff game as it comes,” Simon said. “Our goal is to get to Albany for the Federation tourney, but we need to take it one game at a time. Our expectations are high. If the guys work hard, they’ll get it done.”

St. Joe’s 2010-11 Schedule
12-3 Lockport Tourney ........ TBA
12-4 Lockport Tourney ........ TBA

12-8 Riverside ................... 7 p.m.
12-10 Depew @ Cataract Classic
6:30 p.m.
12-15 Lackawanna @ ECIC Challenge
................................... 8 p.m.
12-18 Aquinas @ Keenan Classic
2:30 p.m.
12-20 Grover Cleveland ... 7 p.m.
Bishop Kearney 6:30 p.m.
12-29 CBA Holiday Tournament
12-30 CBA Holiday Tournament
1-4 at St. Mary’s........... 7:30 p.m.
1-7 Cardinal O’Hara ......... 7 p.m.
1-11 St. Francis................. 7 p.m.
1-13 at Bishop Timon . 7:30 p.m.
1-15 at Middle College . 12 noon
1-21 at Walsh ............... 6:30 p.m.
1-25 Niagara Catholic ...... 7 p.m.
1-27 at St. Francis ....... 7:30 p.m.
1-29 at Canisius ................ 4 p.m.
2-4 at Nichols............... 7:30 p.m.
2-8 at Sweet Home ..... 7:30 p.m.
2-10 Bishop Timon ........... 7 p.m.
2-15 Canisius ..................... 7 p.m.
2-18 Niagara Falls............. 7 p.m.
e-mail: mmigliore@beenews.com

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