By Kevin Prise
MIDDLEPORT — When members of the Roy-Hart boys basketball team were asked about their keys to success this season, everyone smiled and looked at senior forward Alex Stoddard.
Stoddard is the Rams’ leading returning scorer from 2012-13, and the rest of his teammates professed that feeding Stoddard the ball would be the go-to play throughout the upcoming winter season.
But in addition to Stoddard, 25th-year Roy-Hart head coach Mark Rydza returns a strong group of players that hopes to make an impact in the Niagara-Orleans League this season, and chase down defending league champion CSAT.
“We’re excited to play,” Rydza said. “We had some guys leave, but we think our returning guys are ready and able to pick up the slack. We’re looking forward to going out there and hopefully winning some games.”
In addition to the scoring acumen of Stoddard, Roy-Hart will look to sophomore Andy Xapsos, the slotted starting point guard, to run the offense and provide a sense of calm when things get tense. Xapsos directed the Barker/Roy-Hart offense during the football season this past fall, and should be well-conditioned to step onto the basketball court without missing a beat (as should Stoddard, who played soccer in the fall).
The Rams went 9-5 last season in N-O play, finishing fourth in the league behind CSAT, Newfane and Akron, and compiling a 13-7 record overall. Rydza said the team hopes to maintain a physical and fast-paced style of play, with a lot of driving inside and getting to the basket.
The team has also focused on developing its defense to this point in the preseason, and plans on applying consistent pressure to the opposition throughout the year.
“It’s all about consistency,” Rydza said. “We’ve been working on defensive communication, working on a lot of defensive drills.”
Offensively, the team feels it has a nice blend of guard play and size inside, providing various scoring options from the inside as well as on the perimeter.
Rydza said the team will miss three departed seniors — Brad Bobbitt, Blake Coppola and Ryan Farewell. Bobbitt was a three-year starter at point guard who limited his turnovers while providing an integral blend of toughness and experience, and has moved on to play basketball at St. John Fisher outside Rochester, Rydza said.
Bobbitt earned first-team all-league honors during his time as a Ram, while Coppola earned second-team honors as a tough inside player who could also score from outside, Rydza said. Farewell was a strong player as well, earning honorable mention all-league.
The Roy-Hart roster is rounded out by junior guard Nelson Andrade, senior guard Cody Breedlove, senior forward Robert Frasier, senior forward Austin Heschke, junior forward Bailey Hudson, junior forward Aaron Metz, senior guard Marc Roman, junior forward Sam White and senior guard DaRon Woods.
Roy-Hart is classified in Class B-2 for the sectional playoffs, and varsity boys soccer coach Barry Webber will serve as the JV basketball coach.
The Rams open their season on Dec. 3 with a 7 p.m. non-league contest at Tonawanda.
2013-14 Roy-Hart Boys Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent Time
12/3 @ Tonawanda 7 p.m.
12/11 BUFFALO ARTS 6:30 p.m.
12/13 WILSON 6:30 p.m.
12/17 @ Tapestry 6:30 p.m.
12/20 MEDINA 6:30 p.m.
12/27 @ Alden 7 p.m.
1/7 @ Newfane 6:30 p.m.
1/10 ALBION 6:30 p.m.
1/14 @ Barker 6 p.m.
1/17 @ CSAT 6 p.m.
1/21 @ Wilson 6:30 p.m.
1/24 @ Medina 6:30 p.m.
1/28 AKRON 6:30 p.m.
1/31 NEWFANE 6:30 p.m.
2/4 @ Albion 7 p.m.
2/7 @ Akron 6:30 p.m.
2/11 BARKER 6 p.m.
2/13 CSAT 6 p.m.