MANLIUS – Jason Marquis jokes that he tweets maybe once every six months from his @BVStormBball account on Twitter.
However, after day one of practice for the Bureau Valley basketball team, the Storm coach couldn’t help but get out his smartphone to praise his team for working so hard “the BV community would be proud.”
“We have a lot of hard-working kids,” said Marquis, now in his second year as head coach. “They’ve been putting a lot of effort forth in practice. I think where there is effort you hope that leads to execution and when there is execution you should win some basketball games.”
After graduating 11 seniors from a squad which finished 18-13 and won the Warkins Christmas Classic in Erie, there are a lot of unknowns for the Storm this season. But, if there is one thing that Marquis believes his team will be consistent on it will be their effort on the floor each night.
“Our goal in every game, no matter if it’s the first or last game of the year, is that when people come and watch us play they believe that we played harder than any team they’ve seen the rest of the year,” Marquis said.
Despite the big turnover on the roster, the Storm will still return two starters, and it’s their two leading scorers from a year ago, juniors Parker Neuhalfen and Tommy Johnston.
Neuhalfen (15.4 ppg) was a first team all-conference selection last year and has started at the varsity level since his freshmen year. He took over at point guard last season when Frank Gebeck was injured and will still see some time at the point, but will also share those duties with senior Ryan Young and junior Alex Johnson, allowing him to play on the wing as well.
Johnson scored 12.4 points per game as a sophomore post player and was a second team all-conference selection. His ability to score inside gives the Storm a nice 1-2 punch with Neuhalfen.
“I think you look at their skill sets and Parker and Tommy are both very good basketball players and both very good athletes,” Marquis said. “They need to learn what it takes to lead a team, and I think that’s a process. I think it’s something that our team really looks at them for, and they are conscious of that.”
Despite being the only two players that saw significant minutes last year, Marquis doesn’t believe they will have to carry the offensive load by themselves. Juniors Josh Mead, Payton Shipp and Blake Balensiefen all saw a lot of playing time at the sophomore level and will see significant minutes this year.
The Storm will also have something they’ve lacked in recent years and that’s size in the post with the addition of foreign exchange student Lennard Winrich and senior David Miller, both 6-5 forwards.
Rounding out the roster are senior Bryan Arteberry (G) and juniors Sean Shepard (G), Evan Frank (G), Dylan Martin (G), Seth Cambron (F) and Chris Shynk (F)
“I think we have a good second group,” Marquis said. “We just need to continue to refine our skills and learn what it takes to win at the varsity level.”
The Storm will get that opportunity when they tip off their season on Monday at the Wally Keller Tournament, hosted by Wethersfield High School. The tournament runs from Nov. 25-30.