OLEAN, NY -- The Olean Huskies boys basketball team still has Glens Falls, the site of the New York State Boys Basketball Tournament, in its sights.
Olean returns just one starter from last year’s 28-1 state championship team. Despite a less experienced roster, coach Jeff Anastasia said his goals are the same for this season.
“(The goals are) to win the in-season tournaments that we play in, our league title, the sectional championship and the state championship,” Anastasia said.The first goal was achieved, as the Huskies won the Olean Tip-Off Tournament championship with a 76-35 win over Maple Grove on Friday night and a 61-40 victory over East Aurora on Saturday evening. The team lost to Maryvale 59-54 on Tuesday.
The transfer of 2015-16 leading scorer Ben Eckstrom to a New Hampshire prep school and graduation of second-leading point-getter and top rebounder Elijah Ramadhan left Olean in need of a go-to offensive option. Senior guard Monty Shoemaker has established himself as the main candidate, with 18 points on Friday and 24 on Saturday.
Shoemaker averaged 10.8 points a game last year, but will likely need to at least match the 16 Eckstrom averaged a contest if the Huskies will be bound for the state tournament again in March.
In addition to Shoemaker, Anastasia listed sophomore guard Mike Schmidt, youngest son of St. Bonaventure men’s basketball coach Mark Schmidt, as a player he has high expectations for. Schmidt had a well-rounded weekend, with averages of seven points, nine assists and 5.5 rebounds.
Anastasia said he always has to adapt to meet what he considers the strengths of his team, but always stresses the defensive side of the ball.
“Defense is our constant,” he said.
Holding Maple Grove and East Aurora to just 35 and 40 points, respectively, is a good start.
The Huskies face their next opponent, Wellsville, on Saturday. Wellsville had a 15-4 record last year, so the game should serve as an early litmus test to the caliber of Anastasia’s squad this season.