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Hardy2
December 06, 2006

Hurricanes' Basketball: Nowhere to Go But Up


When a team plays 19 games in a season and wins only one of them, there could be cause for concern about that team's future. But that doesn't appear to be the case for the Westhampton Beach boys' varsity basketball team, which despite going 1-18 in 05-06, looks to be one of the more improved squads in League VI this season.

Senior point guard Joe Siciliano (5.7 ppg) is a converted shooting guard who last season transferred from St. Francis Prep. "His dribble drive and the way he kicks the ball out to his teammates are both strong," said head coach Ron Gholson.

Siciliano will be joined in the backcourt this season by Birkan Kopuz, a six-foot shooting guard who played the point for the Hurricanes last season. Kopuz, who transferred from Turkey last season and averaged nine points per game to lead the team, is poised for a big year now that he'll be encouraged to utilize his superb shooting skills.

"[Siciliano and Kopuz] both went through a season of getting acclimated to our style and they should be much more comfortable this year," Gholson said.

Freshman Bruno Cavallo is another intriguing prospect who has tremendous upside according to Gholson. "He's a scorer with nice touch, but like any freshman, his weakness is his defense though that should improve quickly. He's going to be a real good player. He works on his game a lot."

Junior guards Aaron Wilson and Bobby McCoy along with senior shooting guards Daniel Shoton and Eric Gilliam add to Westhampton's depth at the scoring position. Gilliam logged a lot of playing time last season averaging nearly seven points per game.

Jon Gilardo, a transfer from Southampton, is a sophomore point guard who will also be vying for playing time this season. "He has good understanding of the game for a young man of his age," said Gholson.

Up front, the Hurricanes will feature junior forwards Jerry Hart and Scott Johnson as well as junior center Tyler O'Rourke. Hart averaged 8 points per game last season and can potentially be Westhampton's top inside player this season according to Gholson.

O'Rourke stands at six-foot-six and brings a smart, physical package along with much-needed low post presence while Johnson is a tenacious hustler.

Six-one forward Thomas Denning is an inside presence and a strong defender off the bench as is Jacob Mainzer, a returning six-two forward who averaged five rebounds per game last season.

Another newcomer to the Hurricanes this season is Jeramee Griffin, a transfer from East Hampton. Gholson described the six-one swingman as having a nice mid-range shot and good ball-handling skills although he did not play high school basketball last season.

"We're looking to really improve on last season's record, just come out and be competitive again," said Gholson. "The playoffs are the picture. We're in a tough league with teams like Amityville, John Glenn, Bayport and Harborfields, so it's going to be tough. Our league is very tough. We're not taking anyone for granted this season."

"The top goal [for us] is the playoffs and we need seven wins to get there," he continued. "To obtain that goal, we have to improve every day. Defensively, we need to be one of the better teams in the county."

Gholson, now in his fourth season as Westhampton's varsity coach, was a key role player while playing for Bridgehampton in high school and then later for the University of Bridgeport. He knows firsthand the importance of role players to a team's success.

"If I can get some of these guys to develop this season and step up and the role players do their part, I think that we can be in the mix. It's not going to be easy. But that being the case, that's what makes it fun. Our team chemistry has improved. We have leaders here. If we can get the talent that we have to come together and strive for one common goal, I think that we can have a good year."

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