By Alicia Dziak

It’s basketball season, which means time to grab a comfy spot on the bleachers and cheer for the purple and gold! SGI has six different teams—modified, JV and Varsity for both boys and girls— which means plenty of opportunities to catch some hoops.

The Varsity girls’ team is led by coach Bob Gainey, who lists team strengths as team defense, chemistry, and hustling on both ends of the floor. The team is made up of four seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.

“Ivette Lewandowski is a two-year Varsity player and only a sophomore,” Gainey said. “She has been playing basketball year-round and it really shows.  Her ability to handle the ball up the court and make jump shots is something our team desperately needs.  She’s an impactful player on both ends.  Sydney Rosati is a senior and an excellent shooting guard for us.  She does a terrific job playing defense on and off  the ball.  Her ability to shoot from deep, along with her aggressiveness, make her a fantastic player for us.  Grace Zabawa is back for her junior year.  Grace has excellent quickness and handles the ball extremely well, especially in traffic.”

The team will be working toward achieving many common goals, which, according to Gainey, include “Winning at least half of our games, winning our Holiday Tournament, and being the best team we can possibly be when it comes to hustle, communication, and chemistry.”

SGI was moved up a division this year, which means the girls will face some tough competition this season. “Our league is so strong this year,” noted Gainey. “I think East Aurora would have to be considered the best team in our league with all the returning talent they have and the size of their team is tough to match up with.  Lake Shore and Iroquois are two very strong teams as well.  We will certainly be challenged every night when we play in league; I think we are up to the task though!”

Check out the girls this Saturday, Dec. 2 when they play at home against Mount Mercy; tip-off is 1:30 p.m.

The girls’ modified squad is made up of 15 7th and 8th graders. “I have eight returning 8th graders, and seven players coming out for the first time,” said coach Kim Pazzuti. “The returning 8th graders have come back strong and ready to be an example to our first year players.”

Among her team’s strengths, Pazzuti noted the team “consists of a group of girls that want to learn the game and are willing to put the work in.”

Pazzuti agrees that the toughest competition will be East Aurora.  “Our toughest game will be against EA. They have the facilities to play year-round, which is always the game changer,” she said. “However, we will work hard as we did last year and we will improve with each game as we come together as a team.”

The modified level is all about learning the game. “One of my goals this season is to have fun while learning the fundamentals that will carry them to the junior varsity level,” Pazzuti explained. “Another goal will be to encourage the girls to be selfless and supportive of their teammates in both losing and winning efforts. Lastly, I would like them to get a few wins under their belts so they can experience that awesome feeling.”

The modified girls start their season on Monday, Dec. 11 by hosting Holland.

On the boys’ side, the Varsity team is led by coach Greg Miller. “This year, Varsity Boys basketball has a total of 12 members,” he said. Of the 12, there are four seniors, all returning from last year, which includes team captains Anthony Lasker, Mike Place and Matt Sion, as well as Tyler Kostelny. Juniors include returning players Mason Goodridge and Adam Pruitt, as well as Mike Sobota, Tyler Attebery, Austin Lux, Alex Fransisco, Adam Ditchey and Zach Parker.

“Returning seniors have been in the program most of the way through,” Miller said of his players. “We have strong leadership under Lasker, Sion and Place as captains.  We also have a strong sense of team unity and cohesiveness.  Some stand out players on the offensive end will include Mason Goodridge, returning player of the year for Division 4.  Also, Adam Pruitt, who plays really well at the basket and away from the basket.  Tyler Kostelny has a nice outside shot and should be able to contribute to the team’s success. Defensively, Matt Sion is an outstanding defender and should be a strong leader on the boards for us.”

Regarding the team’s strengths, Miller said, “We like to transition and run.  Our guards are good at getting to the bucket and finding open looks.  Our bigs/post players are aggressive underneath and have nice shots from outside the paint.  We work well as a team, building our chemistry and putting together team wins.  It’s going to be a two way game, both offense and defense, and the effort we put forth on both ends of the court will help us be successful this year.

Miller went on to say, “Our goal this year is to develop into a winning program.  That starts from the very top in the coach, all the way to our feeder program new to the community this year.  We want to build a team that works well together, and challenges themselves, not only in games, but during practice and off the court.  Together, as a team and program, we want to achieve as much success as possible.  In every loss that we might encounter, there are always going to be positives.  It is our goal this year to find our strengths, continue to improve on our weaknesses, and develop a strong program.”

The Varsity boys have a tough season ahead. “We have moved back up into Division 3, which will include Maryvale, Cheektowaga, Pioneer, Iroquois, Lake Shore and East Aurora,” Miller explained. “Along with that, some of our non-league games this year include some very talented players and teams including West Seneca West…also, we have Starpoint, Cleveland Hill, and West Seneca East.  Finally, we are in two tournaments— the Emerling Holiday Tournament where we will host Eden, North Collins, and Cattaraugus Little Valley and the Ellicottville Tournament, where we will play Chautauqua Lake, Ellicottville, and Frewsburg.”

The JV team, led by coach Dave Broom, is made up of nine freshmen and three sophomores. “It’s a very young team,” Broom said, adding that team strengths include shooting and pushing the ball.

Freshmen Austin Boies and Eric Copeland were cited as standout players, returning from last year when they were brought up as 8th Graders.

“Our goals for this season is to win as many games as possible and continue to improve both individually and as a team daily,” explained Broom. “We moved up to a higher division, so the competition is high this year.”

The JV and Varsity boys both host Pioneer on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

‘Tis the season for holiday prep and non-stop hustle and bustle. Why not take a break and head to the court to cheer your Griffs on to victory?