Panthers ready to make deep run in 2019-20
HOOSICK, N.Y. — For the Hoosick Falls boys basketball team, all the ingredients are in place for a deep run in 2019-20.
The Panthers only lost a single player to graduation after a 21-2 record and a Section II, Class C finalist appearance. Eight of the nine players on the roster are seniors, all with at least two years of experience.
The only potential problems are as usual the tough Wasaren and non-league schedule, but also the fact that they are in Class B, one student over the cut-off.
"It could be a big year, under normal circumstances," said coach Mike Lilac, who is entering his 24th season leading the Panthers. "But Class B is a different animal. We always see everyone's best shot so we have to keep answering the bell every game."
The Panthers have a 54-game win streak against Wasaren League opponents, and have won 84 of the last 86 matchups in league play.
Hoosick is led by Jon Kempf, who entered his senior season with 1,153 career points. After a pair of games in the Lake George tournament, he stands at 1,226 — 45 short of the all-time leading scorer at Hoosick Falls, Howie Dewey, who reached 1,271 when he graduated in 1985.
Last season, he averaged nearly 22 points a game with a high of 41 during sectionals against Canajoharie.
"He's worked really hard in the offseason and right away you see that," Lilac said. "But we do want to find the balance so teams don't think we're a one-man show."
Tristan Williams returns after being injured late in the year last season. Before being hurt in the last game against Greenwich, Williams averaged 17.6 points a game and looks to make another huge impact in 2019-20, especially on the defensive end.
"He makes a difference offensively obviously, but really on defense," Lilac said. "He had 10 blocks this weekend [in the Lake George tournament] and he can bail us out if we get beat off the dribble. He has an ability to block or alter shots, it's nice to have him back in the middle."
Max Kipp returns for his third year as a varsity starter.
"He's a spark for us and in the first couple games this season, if we were slow, he could get us going," Lilac said. "If I can put Max on their best offensive player, I like the matchup."
Two more veterans coming back for the Panthers are Dmitri Rose and Isiah Burnett. Both had games last season where they were a big part of the offense — Rose scored 16 in a win over Waterford, while Burnett added 17 in the sectional victory over Canajoharie.
But Lilac said where they really excel is on the defensive end.
"Both guys worked hard in the offseason," Lilac said. "Isiah was in the gym through the fall. I'm happy to have him back. And Dmitri, with Tristan back, we can put him on their best players and he can make life miserable for them."
In the opening tournament, Rose had nine assists in each game, along with keeping Lake George's Cameron Orr at 10 points in the final.
Hoosick Falls continues its season on December 9 when they host Berlin at 7:30 p.m.
Roster: Jon Kempf, Tristan Williams, Dmitri Rose, Isiah Burnett, Max Kipp, Nick Houghton, Zach Cahill, Sam Wickenden, Dylan Baker.
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