Excitement is in the air as varsity winter sports kick off. Even though student-athletes still have to deal with masks and other COVID guidelines, they are as ready as ever to showcase their talents and play with their teams. Here is a little about what you can expect to see from the teams, and what they want you to know.
Written by Coach Brandon Woods
The Varsity Men’s Basketball team are entering the 2021-2022 with a heavy senior lead basketball team. This team has great chemistry which will need to play a vital role as we aim our sights on contending for an ECIC Division II Championship. Our team is led by Seniors Diar Fleming, Josh Goscinski, Josh Byrd, Joe Veal, Noah Clifford, Jaidyn McGrath and PaNiro Breckenridge who have all played in the program since 7th grade. Diar Fleming is the only returning starter who avg 13.5 ppg from the shortened 2021 basketball season. Some key additions from JV are Ervin Myree, Billy Caviness, Rosari Appleton and Jordan Theodore. Jordan will most certainly add a ton of leadership and toughness to the point guard spot once he gets healthy! Some other notable additions to our roster are Adebobola Adepoju (Gideon) who transferred in from West Seneca East and Andre Stinson who once he continues to learn the game will be able to provide this group a presence in the paint with his 6’9 frame. To round out the roster, for the first time since Jamel Lucas (20) Freshman year, Nakhyi Harris will be the only underclassmen on the varsity roster. He has a very mature game for a freshman and brings us a balanced attack of scoring play making and high basketball IQ. He has a bright future in a Panther uniform!
We play a very competitive schedule which will prepare us for late February. We took a tough loss at home where we couldn’t find our rhythm offensively and struggled late in the game to stop the ball in transition among other things, however this group will continue to improve and learn from these early season struggles in an effort to trade them in for February wins!
After having their most league wins last year since 2010, this team is working hard towards a winning record. They aim to win in our division and make a run in the playoffs. Team captains are senior Megan Gerber and junior Krissy Baker. Coach Murak says they are “very vocal leaders and always leave it all on the floor.” He says that strengths this year for your lady panthers are rebounding, speed, athleticism, and defense. They are a fast team and are ready to prove themselves.
Boys Ice Hockey
The boys ice hockey program was saved by the tireless work of Ms. Dauria. They are now combined with the varsity team from Depew and are the Sweet Home-Depew Predators. Depew is providing two goalies, two forwards, and a defenseman. The team will be challenged by playing the regular season against large school teams. Once playoffs start in February, they will be back to playing in the small school division. Coach Turner believes that “facing large school teams may be difficult during the season, but it will only make us that much stronger and more prepared for playoffs. That is when it matters most.” Turner will be working with Coach Cardinal, Coach Beaudet, and Coach Olden from Depew. They opened their season on December 2nd with a disappointing loss against Frontier.
Girls Ice Hockey
The girls hockey program is still combined with Clarence and Amherst. The only girls from Sweet Home are Zoe Hallowell and Natalie Zwelling. The team is young this year, with a few 7th and 8th graders but they have been keeping up. Check out their new Instagram: cashhockey_
In their season opener against Williamsville North, Charles Buttery threw a new high of 299 leading his team to a victory. They then went on to defeat Clarence for the first time since December of 2015. They also finished 8th out of 23 teams in the Maryvale Tournament. Their goal every year is to finish with a record of 6-6 or better to be able to qualify for sectionals. Coach Smith says that with such a young team, every player should strive to improve their average by 5-10 pins and in doing so will set the team up for many years to come. Michael Falzone and Charles Buttery bring experience and leadership. They work hard to get better and lead by example.
The team is working this year towards improving their record, individual averages, and placing for the third consecutive season in sectionals. Senior Cassidy Papero says that they wish to improve on spares, particularly 1 pin spares. This will boost everyone’s averages. Coach Russo, owner of Manor Lanes II, wants the girls to have a good time, be successful, improve, try their best, and stay as focused as possible, especially in competition.
Team captains are Roman Haen, Cameron Millender, Aaron Shareef, and Jared Harris. All the wrestlers set goals and steps to achieve these goals at the beginning of the season. A few of the team goals are winning sectional titles, winning wrestling matches, and in general, just getting better at the sport. They unanimously voted that their way to achieve these goals would be by showing up to practice. The practice attendance has been amazing and thus has helped to strengthen the community on their team. The two seniors on the team, Roman Haen and Joel Paulus, are huge leaders along with the large number of juniors who have put time and effort into being successful. They believe that their hard work at each practice and match will pay off and their overall results will reflect that. Every time they step on the mat, their goal is to get better. Coach Stella believes they need more time in the offseason to grow and that they need to learn from their mistakes and move on quickly. He sends this message to the athletes, “Keep believing in yourselves. Great things are happening in the Sweet Home wrestling program and this is just the start.”
Boys and Girls Indoor Track
Boys and girls indoor track started their season off on December 4th at Houghton College. Coach MacPeek is excited to announce that many of the athletes have already achieved the standards to make it into the State Qualifier meet at the end of February! She says, “Track and field is not an easy sport. It takes practice, strength and belief in your own capabilities to win. I am excited to see how the athletes progress throughout the season… It feels like we are all just one big family! The athletes cheer their teammates, offer encouragement and support and push one another to be the best.” Of the 75 athletes, 19 are seniors. Team captains are Lanee Hall, Angela Carter, Shannon Sullivan, Neil Stoudemire, and Isaac Bluestein. They are genuine leaders, assist their teammates, and are committed to excellence. MacPeek is joined by Coach Lowe, Coach Hocieniec-Gentile, Coach Radlich, Coach Bell, and Mr. Basehart.
Varsity cheerleading will be hosting ECIC’s at Sweet Home on February 5th. They would love all the support from fans on the day of. Team captains are seniors, Angela Carter and Samantha Certo. Sophomore, Isabella Vega, says, “Our goals [this year] are to have a solid routine with high difficulty [and] to compete at our best. Individually, I think everyone wants to gain tumbling.”
At the time of publishing, the Unified Bowling coach and Boys Swim coaches could not be reached for comment.
Pack the pit this winter season and cheer your panthers on! You can find all the schedules here.
“Don’t dream of winning, train for it.”Mohamed Farah
“There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do – and I believe that.”Derek Jeter
“Don’t get too high on your highs and don’t get too low on your lows.”Barack Obama
Morgan is a sophomore at Sweet Home High School. She mainly writes for the advice column. She plays basketball and softball and is also part of the yearbook club.