Medina boys basketball readies for bounce-back season
By Kevin Prise Medina Journal-Register
Medina coach Tom Forrestel doesn’t want to sugarcoat his team’s performance last season. Struggling to maintain consistency across the floor, the Mustangs ended up with a 3-11 record in Niagara-Orleans League play.
Returning a few critical pieces of the puzzle for 2013-14, Medina boys basketball has its sights set on building team chemistry and playing more together as a unit this season, Forrestel said.
“We’re all looking forward to progress this season as a team,” said Forrestel, with an emphasis on the word “team.”
“Last year’s team never really jelled; they had a lack of chemistry,” he said. “This team has matured, and they should be coming together nicely. They’re picking up on each other’s tendencies, communication skills, and getting comfortable with each other.”
Junior point guard Jason Hellwig will assume the reins as the leader on the floor, after a solid fall football campaign in which he led the Mustangs to a 5-4 record and sectional playoff berth. Fellow football teammates Munjie Brown and Ben McPherson are back for another season on the hardwood.
Forrestel, who played high school basketball at Nichols School in Buffalo on the same team as former Duke standout Christian Laettner, said he is hoping for Brown to come into his own on the court this season.
The Mustangs have nine returning players, although Forrestel envisions the team’s success coming via production by committee. He added that it will be helpful to have Hellwig back, and that McPherson has had a strong offseason and first few days of practice.
“I really see us having success by committee,” Forrestel said. “We need everyone to step up well into their roles, and get the JV talents coming in and performing by committee, as well.”
Medina loses Lonnie Taylor to graduation, and Forrestel said he will be missed, along with outside shooting threat Ryan Thompson.
Forrestel described Taylor as an athletic slasher, who was strong above the rim and a good on-the-ball defender, an all-around talent on the hardwood.
Forrestel emphasized that success this year will start on the defensive end, and hopes that the team will bring energy to the court every night. If that proves to be the case, it should be a fun winter season in Mustang basketball nation.
“This year, we’re hoping to keep everything up-tempo,” Forrestel said. “We need to be energized and scrappy, and keep up the pace.”
Medina opens its regular season on Dec. 4, with a non-league home game against Oakfield-Alabama. The Mustangs open Niagara-Orleans League play on Dec. 13, with a trip to defending league champion CSAT, which went undefeated in N-O play last season.