Boys basketball: Shaker, Bethlehem among favorites in Suburban Council

Season begins Friday with five divisional games

South Division

Averill Park Warriors

Head coach: Dave Pugliese

Key players: Dan VanRoy (senior forward), Luke Ziegler (senior guard), Matt LaBounty (senior forward), Miles Joyce (sophomore guard)

Outlook: With seven of their top eight players back from last year’s team, Pugliese said he’s optimistic about the Warriors’ chances in a tough South Division field.

“We feel we can be competitive this year,” said Pugliese. “We have two three-year starters in Dan VanRoy and Luke Ziegler, so that helps us.”

Bethlehem Eagles

Head coach: A.G. Irons

Key players: John Sica (sophomore center), Myles Bergere (senior forward), Nate Kane (senior guard), Connor Morelli (junior forward)

Outlook: The Eagles have plenty of size in the front court with the 6-foot, 7-inch Sica and the 6-3 Bergere, but it’s the backcourt play and the development of a younger group of players that Irons said will determine Bethlehem’s ability to defend its South Division title.

“Our goal is obviously to put ourselves in a position to contend for titles,” said Irons. “The Suburban Council South is always going to be tough.”

Colonie Garnet Raiders

Head coach: Dave Kilmer

Key players: Godfrey Freeman (senior guard), Jake Samuels (senior forward), Sonny Benson (senior guard), John Ziamandanis (senior guard), Brandon Jeffers (senior guard), Ryan Nicholson (junior forward), Nolan Smith (sophomore guard)

Outlook: Kilmer said he knows his team will give a maximum amount of effort this season. Whether it translates to more wins will depend on what they have left in the tank at the end of games.

“We’re pretty small, and we’ll hustle a lot,” said Kilmer. “It’s just a matter of whether we can win late in the game.”

Columbia Blue Devils

Head coach: Jim Obermayer

Key players: Jahlil Nails (sophomore forward), Conrad Zampier (senior guard/forward)

Outlook: The Blue Devils have two proven scorers in Nails and Zampier, but whether they can unseat Bethlehem for the division title will depend on who else steps up for them.

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