Elk Lake eyes title

Elk Lake’s Nick Dudock (right) shoots a jumper over a teammate during a drill at practice on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/ JOHN LUND

Elk Lake’s Nick Dudock (right) shoots a jumper over a teammate during a drill at practice on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/ JOHN LUND

Times Shamrock Writer

The Elk Lake boys’ basketball team is hungrier than ever to get past last year’s obstacles that ended the season too soon.

The Warriors put together a 20-4 record before losing to district champion Holy Cross in the semifinals and dropping the third-place game to Mid Valley and a shot in the PIAA playoffs.

“Last year was a very exciting year for us and we enjoyed it a great deal,” head coach John Warnero said. “It gave us fuel and passion to reach that next level. This is a new year with new challenges that we are looking forward to.”

Warnero returns for his 8th season as head coach and will be assisted by Marc Weisgold.

The Warriors lost Rob Heft to graduation, but return five seniors who will look to immiediately make an impact.

“Rob was one of the best players I have ever coached,” Warnero said. “It’s going to take all of us to chip in to fill that role.

That’s exactly what those seniors, Tanner Reyan, Matt Woolcock, Tyler Arnold, Nick Dudock and Pete McGee plan to do.

“The seniors have been a tight group and have played together since fourth grade. Veteran leadership and team unity is what this squad is all about, and they possess a great deal of dedication and commitment to represent our program well.”

The seniors will be joined by junior Wyatt Warner; sophomores Seth Tewksbury, Bailey Newhart, Cole Tyler, Hunter Watkins, Jonny Baltzley, JJ Heft and Gavin Kelly; and freshmen Ben Woolcock, Kyle Day, Jason Vasquez, Griffin Bunnell, Evan Debonis, Chris Meaders, Alex Hewitt, Lionel Cordova, Kyle Oakes, and TJ Tyler.

As the Warriors prepare for another competitive season, Warnero has his expectations high for his team.

“We expect our team to work hard on every possession, play hard, smart and together,” Warnero said. “We need to focus on the things that we can control and the rest will work itself out. With a veteran team, we’re really focusing on the fine details and the wrinkles each read can provide. It’s the little things that can make all the difference.”

The Warriors return a great deal of experience and quickness, but lack overall size, Warnero added. The team will square off against some tough teams, including a battle against Montrose.

While the Warriors will foucs on their next opponent throughout the season, Warnero also tries to prepare his players for what comes after the season ends.

“We talk a lot about using the game of basketball as a tool for growth,” Warnero said. “Ultimately it’s all about becoming the strongest version of ourselves. We want them to leave the program with great character and traits.”

Elk Lake starts up the season on Dec. 6 against Carbondale, and will hold an alumni game and ‘Meet the Warriors’ night on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Attendants can meet the youth travel team, junior high boys and junior varsity and varsity teams for the 2013-2014 season. Donations will be taken to benefit the Coaches vs. Cancer efforts.