As basketball season begins, Panthers have new leader
Former Cohoes coach Dan Hytko has come out on retirement to lead the Panthers, taking over for Eamonn DeGraaf, who went 109-46 in seven seasons and was state runner-up in 2014-15.
The Panthers were 18-5 last season, falling in the Section II, Class B semifinal to Glens Falls.
This is the 45th season Hytko has coached in the area. He first was in the college ranks, as an assistant and then as a head coach at Hudson Valley Community College for 15 years. After that, he went to Cohoes and coached the boys team, coaching his son. Soon after, the girls coaching job opened and he took it, coaching his daughter for a couple of seasons.
He stepped away from coaching after the 2014-15 season for two years when his daughter Morgan took the Cohoes job, and the opportunity to coach at Hoosick Falls came about during the summer.
"It's been interesting," said Hytko, who is also the coordinator for Section II. "The transition has been really good, impressed with how they responded to [the change]. The team leaders have been great as well, I wouldn't have been able to do it without their help."
The Panthers not only have a new coach, but also lose the Wasaren League MVP and the team's top scorer in Kelly Pine — who's now at Hartwick — and a first-team all-star in Lizza Ryan to graduation.
They do have a pair of honorable mentions in Eliza Whitman and Logan Thayne that return. Thayne averaged nearly 10 points and 10 rebounds a game, while Whitman, more of a three-point specialist, averaged about six points a contest.
"Logan, I watched her play in AAU [for Empire State Takeover], some of the other girls I'm still getting used to," Hytko said. "Logan will be a big cog in what we're doing. It's a bit of a blank slate though. Slots are open, they need to come out and earn their spot."
Hytko is ready for the challenge with the Panthers.
"The girls are focused and ahead of the game, even on Day 1. I'm looking forward to it," Hytko said. "If we do what we're supposed to do, I think we'll be OK. I'm very happy to be here and happy how they've responded to me."
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