Panthers aim to continue success with new coach

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HOOSICK, N.Y. — Coming into any program for the first time can be tough.

The job is even more difficult for a coach whose top four scorers all graduated.

Sixty-five percent of the team's scoring, including Wasaren League MVP Kelly Pine — who averaged 17.3 points per game — and starting point-guard Lizza Ryan, are gone, leaving sophomore Logan Thayne as the leading returning scorer, averaging about 10 points a game last season.

Long-time coach Dan Hytko takes over from Eamonn DeGraaf, who went 109-46 over the past seven seasons, including an 18-5 mark and a sectional semifinal appearance. Hytko said he's pleased with his team's progress in the early going.

"They've done a good job picking up the new system," said Hytko, who coached at Cohoes and is in his 45th season of coaching."The community and school district has been really been behind me. The kids are having fun, playing well and improving every day."

Thayne was a role-player last season, a nice second option under the basket. This season, teams will focus even more on the sophomore, who upped her game this summer with a stint in the Empire State Takeover league. She averaged a double-double for the Panthers as a freshman.

"She's one of our top players that is back and she's taken on a leadership role, along with Eliza [Whitman] and Noreen [McAuliffe]," Hytko said.

Whitman, McAuliffe and Grace Wysocki also return, but most of the team moves up from the junior varsity squad. Lillian Hickey came up last year in the postseason as well.

In fact, three of his first players off the bench are newcomers in Maddy Walker, Sky Haynes and Caroline Cipperly.

"They've done a really nice job for us coming off the bench," Hytko said. "A lot of the JV kids from last year have gotten some good playing time."

Early this year, Hoosick is 1-2 after a win over Beekmantown and a loss to Hoosic Valley in the Cohoes tournament. They also lost to Class C state semifinalist Mekeel Christian earlier this week.

"We've played some really tough teams right off the bat," Hytko said.

Things don't get any easier in the Wasaren League, one of the toughest in Section II.

"I used to coach against Mechanicville when they were in the Colonial Council," Hytko said. "I've scouted a bunch of teams in the Wasaren League and you have to be ready every night. Every year, the league produces top teams in the Section."

Hoosick's next game is on Wednesday when they host rival Cambridge at 7:30 p.m.

Roster: Eliza Whitman, Noreen McAuliffe, Logan Thayne, Olivia Brownell, Faith Adamczenko, Sky Haynes, Maddy Walker, Caroline Cipperly, Lily Abbott, Molly Walker, Grace Wysocki, Abby Decker, Lillian Hickey, Eva Helft.


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