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<B>Cambridge Central School junior Max McNeil takes a layup during a drill at practice on Wednesday, while teammate Ryan Jeskie, left, looks on. The Indians&rsquo; last two seasons have been tough, but things are heading in the right direction in 2013-14. </B>

GEOFF SMITH

Assistant Sports Editor

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- The last two seasons have not been kind to the Cambridge Central School boys basketball team, with the Indians winning only one game.

And there is no guarantee that things will change for the 2013-2014 campaign.

But as Cambridge basketball practice gets underway, there is a chemistry in the air that has the Indians hopeful for a better result this time around.

"Our mentality is good this year," junior point guard Caleb Rowland said. "We are coming to the gym every day and working hard. We are practicing the basics, because we know we have to do the basics well and not get crazy and do all the fancy things other teams are able to do."

And for a team that will carry nine players on the roster into the season, with only three as returning varsity players, the basics will be key if Cambridge wants to pull out a few wins.

"The last couple of years, we have had gaps between the experienced players not working well with the new players," said junior Max McNeil. "This year, we don't have that. We only lost two seniors, so we have experience playing together this year."

McNeil and Rowland are two of the returning players, along with senior Ryan Jeskie. Beyond them, junior Chris Warnke will make a full-time move up to varsity, after playing in the team's Sectional tournament loss at the end of last year.

"He is a presence we did not have all of last year," coach Tim Ogilvie said of Warnke. "We are looking for him to step up and help us."

The team will also welcome Brandon Ricketts to the team, a junior who transferred from Granville. Seniors Parker Bruce, Brady Sausville, Keanne Brennan, and Swedish foreign exchange student David Albersahntd will round out the nine-man roster for the Indians this season.

"We have a few players who haven't played before, but they are fitting themselves in nicely, adding to the team and giving us some depth," Rowland said. "We can sub a little bit here and there and get fresh legs on the floor."

Defensively, Ogilvie said that he expects to run a lot of zone, usually in a 2-3 or a 3-2, but will mix in some man-to-man when needed.

"When you don't have that depth, running man-to-man is tough," Ogilvie said. "We are trying to do a lot of conditioning so we don't run ourselves into the ground and run out of energy."

Offensively, Ogilvie wants his team to try and get easy opportunities in transition, but is also stressing the need to play with "basketball smarts."

"I'd like to see us make good decisions in transition, if something is available to take advantage of," Ogilvie said. "Yet recognize if something isn't there, we need to pull it up, get balanced, and run an offense."

"We know we aren't going to be a shooting team," Rowland said. "We have to minimize [shooting], and not force shots this year."

The team starts the season on Friday, when they host Schuyerville in a Wasaren League game. From there, the team will play Wasaren foes Greenwich, Hoosic Valley, Stillwater, and Hoosick Falls before the Christmas break. The team's non-league games this year will be a home-and-away against Berlin, an away game at Mechanicville, and an away game at Cobleskill-Richmondville. GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Doug Luke (20th season)

Last year: 3-15 (2-12 league); made Sectionals

The team: The Cambridge Central School girls basketball team heads into the year light on numbers and experience, but Doug Luke's squad will have a few returning players to lean on.

Senior Sarah Cuddihy will run the show for Cambridge at the point, helping to direct the offense while also setting herself up to score some buckets.

At center, sophomore Olivia Mooney will look to use her size inside to create a presence in the paint for the Indians.

"They are the two people that we have to get scoring from," Luke said. "Those are the only two who have real experience."

Olivia's younger sister, eighth-grader Helene Mooney, will get a call-up to varsity, with Luke saying "she has a good head on her shoulders and knows what's going on."

Senior Morgan Linnett and juniors Erica LaFlamme, Erica Dupuis, and Tonya Clark should also figure into Luke's rotation for the season.

Opener: Today at Schuylerville, 7:30 p.m.

-- Geoff Smith

WRESTLING

Coach: Sherman Trinkle (5th season)

Last year: 12th at Class D tournament

The team: The Cambridge program is battling some injuries to key wrestlers to start the season, but the Indians look to have a few wrestlers who could compete for sectional titles in Class D this season.

Eight return for another year for the Indians, including two wrestlers with winning records last season. Seniors Austin Dean went 13-7 at 160 pounds, while Nate Winchester (220) was runner-up at sectionals.

Both are nursing football injuries, but Trinkle is optimistic about their chances for the season.

Austin's younger brother, eighth-grader Colton Dean, will wrestle at 182, Gabe Begin will start the year at 145, but will fall down to 138 after Christmas.

Sophomore Ryan Telford, another returning wrestler, will wrestle at 152 before drop to 145 after Christmas. Junior Maria Hughes will wrestle at 113 in her second varsity campaign , and brothers Chris and Carter Couture will wrestle at 170 and 126, respectively.

Opener: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Salem, 6 p.m.

-- Geoff Smith