Saturday, May 30, 2015
Amsterdam, NY ,


Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Fort Plain boys basketball head coach Casey Russom is shown at a recent practice in Fort Plain.

Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Fort Plain senior Chris Hanifin calls for the ball in the post during a recent practice in Fort Plain.


Tight-knit group keys Hilltoppers

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - Updated: 6:50 PM


Recorder Sports Staff

FORT PLAIN -- As the Fort Plain Hilltoppers run through drills, it is tough to figure what is getting the better workout between the players' bodies and their mouths.

Seemingly every movement at a basketball practice for the Hilltoppers is accompanied by a shout or two -- or three -- of encouragement, as the close-knit group cannot help themselves from cheering each other on.

"On your toes, on your toes," shouts senior Zach Sweet to a teammate during a defensive slide drill. "Get your butt down, butt down."

Next up, it is senior point guard Joe Ray's turn to do some shouting, his directed at Jake Sardina, a fellow senior, during the same drill.

"Ain't nobody getting by you, Jake," says Ray. "Ain't nobody getting by you."

While the Hilltoppers likely leave their practices with their ears ringing and their throats sore, Ray says the early-season enthusiasm has been the team's best weapon.

"We just kind of wanted to make [being loud] a staple around here, a priority," he says. "We wanted to be loud, be positive, and get everyone going. If we're loud like that, everyone's going to play better. ... Everyone's doing it, too; everyone's clapping and yelling, getting each other going. It just makes the team better and bonds us more. We're more of a family."

The Hilltoppers were a successful bunch last season, as head coach Casey Russom's squad advanced to the Western Athletic Conference Cup Championship and earned a No. 6 seed in the Section II Class C playoffs. But the squad faces a tall task this season in replacing the production of Harold Dettmer, this past season's Recorder Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Fort Plain figures to miss Dettmer the most on the offensive end of the court. But Russom says this year's squad should have more balance than a year ago.

"I don't think we have anyone that will score 25 points for us," he says. "But we have a lot of guys that can score eight or 10."

"We work well together," adds Sweet. "It definitely feels more comfortable knowing most of us have been playing together for a while."

The Hilltoppers' lineup this season is built around its four returning senior starters in Chris Hanifin, Ray, Sardina and Sweet. Besides those four, though, the Hilltoppers also return several players and bring up a gaggle of players from a successful junior varsity club.

"Guys like Joe Ray can step up for us, or Jake and Zach -- our leaders -- and some of the juniors coming up (will contribute)," says Hanifin. "We've got a lot of guys who can step up."

The Hilltoppers figure to again be in the mix in the WAC North, after winning the division a year ago. Russom envisions this year's club using the same formula as last year's team to garner success.

"Our defense is going to have to feed our offense," he says. "We need turnovers to get some easy baskets. Besides that, we just need everyone to score two or three more points per game than they did last year. If a few guys do that, that's 10, 12 points real quick (to make up for Dettmer) and we'll be good."

The Hilltoppers are looking forward to their upcoming season -- which starts tonight at home against Galway -- as the squad looks to rebound from its unexpected first-round sectional loss from a year ago. Sardina says one of the motivating factors for this year's team is a collective desire to go further in the playoffs.

"What's special about this group is that we're all looking forward to something," he says. "We all want to be here."


Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Montgomery County Research Report


The Recorder Sports Schedule


The Recorder Newscast

Most Popular

    Area sports calendar
    Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    Napoli, Red Sox top Angels
    Monday, May 25, 2015

    The Sawyer Craze
    Thursday, May 28, 2015

    National Grid to discuss transmission line plans
    Monday, May 25, 2015

    County plans to pick up the ball on Concordia project
    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Lawsuit threatened over economic development cut
    Friday, May 29, 2015

    Amsterdam revises its tent fees
    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Needed: $325,000 by June 15 Bridge artwork is not included on projects list
    Thursday, May 28, 2015

    Canal inspections hit in state report
    Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    City remembers the sacrifices made
    Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Copyright © McClary Media, Inc.

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us