By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — A lot has changed for the Lewiston-Porter boys basketball team since last season’s program-best run to the Section VI Class A-2 semifinals.
Graduated are the three seniors who led it there, Nick Mansour, Marc Paonessa and Josh Daul.
Despite the losses, head coach Matt Bradshaw thinks the Lancers could find themselves playing at Buffalo State again this season.
“We’re a very different team, a little more guard oriented,” he said. “We play with a lot of energy, and that can get you a long way. ... I don’t think Buff State isn’t a possibility.”
Heading the team is senior guard Zach Keegan, who shares captain duties with bench scorer and fellow senior Joe Scirto. The two play similar energetic games, and Bradshaw said it’s spread to the rest of his roster.
“(Keegan) brings great leadership, and he never tires,” Bradshaw said. “He’s a fire plug that loves basketball. He comes to practice ready to work every day, and the younger players see that.”
Joining Keegan in the starting lineup are guards Jernard Jackson and Craig Paige and forwards Colton Stallard and Bobby Stevens.
Jackson, only a sophomore, has drawn praise from Bradshaw for his ability to handle the ball and run the offense. Paige, a junior transfer from Niagara Catholic, brings an athletic 6-foot frame, while Stallard and Stevens have been able to focus on the defensive end.
“We’re not a very big team, but we’ve played a few,” Bradshaw said. “They’ve done really well so far holding some big players down.”
Shooting has been a strength early on, with the Lancers hitting 10 3-pointers in a win against Cardinal O’Hara and nine in their Niagara Frontier League-opening win Tuesday against Kenmore East.
L-P’s bench will also be a strength, with Bradshaw using nine players on a regular basis. Joining Scirto in the reserves are guards Jordan Willard and Jake Eoute and forward Tyler Dietz.
That depth works in the Lancers’ favor on the offensive end, where Bradshaw said he has five players that can score 15-18 points per game.
“Every game is a different person,” he said. “Defenses can’t key on one guy because they never know who it’s going to be that night.”
Lew-Port (3-1 overall) hosts Niagara-Wheatfield in Friday as it looks to improve to 2-0 in NFL play.
Follow Niagara Gazettes sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.