HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — At the start of the season, many didn't believe that the Hoosick Falls Central School boys basketball team would be Wasaren League champions for the third year in a row.
"Many people didn't think we get a share of the Wasaren League title, I can tell you that," said Hoosick Falls coach Mike Lilac. "Most thought we'd be in the middle of the pack and just be an OK team, but the kids worked hard all season, kept getting better as the year went on and because of that we were able to become champs again."
One reason why many weren't so high on Hoosick Falls to start the season was their lack of experience.
Going into the season, the Panthers had only one returning starter from last season in senior Connor McCart. Everyone else on the Hoosick Falls squad either played as a reserve on varsity or on junior varsity.
"We had a lot guys that had to fill in key roles," Lilac said. "You knew what your were going to get in Connor, but you weren't sure yet how the other guys would do."
Early on, it looked like that the people's prediction on the Panthers' season would be right as Hoosick Falls started off the season 2-2, losing the first Wasaren League games in two years.
Then after their non-league loss to Cohoes that dropped them to 3-3 on the season, the team started to get it together.
The Panthers won 10 of their final 14 games in the regular season to finish 13-7 and in that stretch won nine straight games against Wasaren League opponents that help them finish 12-2, tied with Stillwater and Mechanicville for a three way share of the Wasaren League title.
"We kept working hard everyday in practice and proved that we were a better team then what people thought we were," McCart said. "A lot of the guys, especially the seniors, went all in on working hard to help turn around the season and made it point that we could still win the Wasaren League, that our team was as good as anbody else in the league and it feels good that we were able to do that."
Just like the past two seasons, the Panthers had a senior nucleus that carried them
Leading that charge was McCart, who finished the regular season as the team's leading scorer, however, the true success for the Panthers was the play of his classmates.
One senior that stepped up big time for Hoosick Falls was Remington Hickey.
Coming into this season Hickey had only been a reserve on the varsity, but this season has become one of its top offensive threats.
The senior ended the regular season as the team's second leading scorer and has a team-high 41 three-pointers on the season.
"It's really cool to watch yourself get better every week," Hickey said. "I'm happy I was able to become that offensive threat that our team needed to help us win. It feels good as senior to be playing my best basketball ever right now and helping the team keep share of that Wasaren League title."
Alex Mendez has also played a large role in Hoosick's success, giving Hoosick Falls another good offensive weapon, as well as being a great defender on the perimeter.
"I just go out their and do what my teammates and coaches want me to do to help the team win," Mendez said. "I want to win as badly as everybody on this team does and for that to happen I know I had fill my role and do it well."
Mendez is currently the team's third leading scorer and best free throw shooter.
Closing out the senior core for the Panthers is Kellen Skott, the leader of the team, Lilac said.
"I always like trying to help my teammates on the court. Whether it's motivating them or calming them down," Skott said. "I know I'm not the most talented guy out there, but I know that I can do other things like being a leader, playing well on defense and bringing a sense of toughness to the team that can help us win. Like coach said, not everyone can be a superstar, but you can be a superstar in your role and that's what I try to for this team."
The Class B playoff seeds will be announced today.