For the fourth consecutive year, the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons will have the same starting point guard — Byron Mulkey.

Mulkey, the Falcons career leading scorer, is one of the best players in Western New York and is drawing plenty of attention from quality colleges and universities.

“He (Mulkey) is the program. You don’t get special players like Byron all the time,” said N-W coach Joe Casale.

Once again, Mulkey will be counted on to be the leading scorer for the Falcons — but then the question becomes, who will step up and be the next few offensive options?

“Teams will try to take away Byron, and we want to be ready for that,” Casale said.

Casale hopes for production from Joe Kephart, a returning senior who provides versatility at either the guard of forward positions. Aaron Foote, a junior, also will compete for time at the guard spot.

Another key contributor will be Stefan Marzahl — but not until he returns from a spleen injury, likely in January.

Casale said that the Falcons will have to make up for Marzahl’s absence by committee until the senior guard comes back.

“A few of the younger guys will have to hold the fort until Stef gets back,” said Casale.

The Falcons are still looking for players to step up and seize the open forward spots.

Several big men could see time in the post, including Josh Kilgour, Nick Doyle, Frank Nalls, Jeff Bissell and Charles Jacobs.

“We have a lot of young big guys, so we’ll have to mix things up,” Casale said.

Casale plans on using four guards in some situations to play to his strength, which is up-tempo basketball.

“We are going to try different things, including playing four guards,” he said. “We just want to utilize what we have and get easy buckets in transition off of our team defense.”

Mulkey agrees that the Falcons will need to keep up the quick pace to be effective.

“We lack real size, so we have to utilize our speed and get up and down the court for easy baskets,” Mulkey said.

Niagara-Wheatfield always plays a tough non-league schedule, and this year is no different with dates against Canisius and Niagara Catholic. Then the Falcons open play in the Niagara Frontier League, which Casale says will be talented and balanced.

“Our goal is to win the league, but Lockport has to be the favorite. They have everyone back — Kenmore East has guys back, too. There is talent everywhere and it’ll be fun.”

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