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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 4, 2008

Wright: “People have been asking me if this is a rebuilding year”

By Jordan J. Michael

BERNE –– Bulldog varsity boys’ basketball coach Andy Wright is concerned about his team after it lost to Heatly in the season’s first game, 49-35.

Heatly is a Class D program from Green Island. “I’ve never known a BKW team that lost to them,” said Wright, in his history classroom. “That loss is a major setback. I’m going to remind my players of that all year.”

Wright is in his sixth year of coaching the varsity and played for the Bulldogs from 1992 to 1995.

BKW also lost its second game to Hoosick Falls, 55 to 47, in overtime. Junior Ryan LaBelle and senior Dave Sikule combined for 36 points. Sikule played through the game with an injured ankle and might be out for two weeks.

“LaBelle and Sikule are the main guys on this team,” Wright said. “I don’t have any solid starters after those two. I’ll have fun switching around the line-up this year.”

Sikule’s injury severely hurts the team, considering that he has been the starting guard for the past two years. Wright told The Enterprise that Sikule is “an extremely talented athlete and top student that can play anywhere.”

“His basketball IQ is ridiculous,” Wright says of Sikule. “I’ve been around the game enough to say that he is the best small-school player in the area. It’s like having another coach on the floor.”

The Bulldogs went 14-6 last year behind seniors Joe Conklin, Josh Skinner, Ben Burton, Matt Lounsbury, and Sikule. The team shared a Western Athletic Conference South title with Schenectady Christian. Sikule is the only starter left.

“Last year was good and I have fond memories, like beating Christian on their home floor,” said Wright. “With four starters gone, I’m trying to get these kids some experience quickly. The atmosphere is different.”

Wright says that people out in public ask if the team is rebuilding this year. “The community is really interested. I find myself talking about basketball all the time,” he said. “On paper, it looks like we’re rebuilding the team. But, these kids have some talent.”

This season marks the 75th year of BKW basketball and Wright thinks that this makes for a “neat” season of basketball for the school. “There is a lot of tradition here and I want to honor some people,” he said.

The team will gain experience when it travels to the Glens Falls Civic Center this Sunday for a Coaches vs. Cancer event against New York Mills. And on Dec. 27, the Bulldogs will travel to Lake Placid for a game against Tamarac.

“We get to play in two really nice venues this season and we can get stronger from that,” said Wright. “Tamarac is a top Class B school and we don’t want to get embrassed up there. But I’m pretty sure miracles have happened there before.”

This also marks the last year for the original gym, as it stands. The facility will get remodeled over the summer.

“We have home-court advantage because the gym is very loud,” Wright said. “When you get 300 screaming people in there it turns into a tin can with the metal walls. This is a very symbolic season.”

It will be hard to maintain the level of last year, but Wright would like to see his team in the top three. “I think this program is capable of being towards the top every year,” he said. “We have good talent underneath and creating a winning atmosphere is important.”

The team is as quick as last year and opponents will have a tough time pressing the Bulldogs. But the coach is concerned with the offensive distribution.

“LaBelle and Sikule provide most of the offense,” Wright said. “The other players have the ingredients but we need to find a common denominator. We’ll have to play small ball like we have done in the past.”

Jake Tanbasco, Justin Coon, Paolo Audino, James Schager, Curtis Clark, Billy Labarr, Josh Rebeor, Pat Stanton, and Sean Loucks haven’t really been game tested. “I’m looking for someone to step up and make a big difference,” said Wright.

Wright said that the WAC is looking very balanced this year and BKW won’t get any breaks. “We have never lost to Sharon Springs, but the junior-varsity kids have lost to them,” he said.

“I think we can surprise teams that look at us as being down,” Wright said. “The response to our first two losses will speak loudly to the character of this team.”

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