Seasoned roster guides varsity basketball team


Phil Dolinger

Senior Forward Elijah Ford attempts a shot during a game against Fairfax High School.

Ryan Hodinko, News Editor

After finishing with an even win-loss record and as the runner-up in the conference tournament last season, the varsity basketball team has its sights set even higher for this season.

The team hopes to find success using an experienced starting five, mixed with a slew of less experienced players looking to emerge as valuable pieces to the team. With a talented roster top to bottom, the players feel an increased expectation in regard to their goals for the upcoming season.

“This year’s team could definitely win the district. We have lots of players with varsity experience,” junior and shooting guard Christian Parana said. “It would be a disappointing season if we don’t win [the district championship.]’

The team returns four of their five starters from the previous season, including Parana, sophomore and point guard Kendall McHugh, senior and guard Bret Caslavka as well as senior and forward Elijah Ford. Additionally, senior and forward Daniel Carmichael is a strong candidate to assume a starting role after playing significant minutes coming off the bench last season.

All five bring different aspects to the roster. McHugh is a talented ball handler and a facilitator of the offense. Parana specializes as a three-point shooter, and with McHugh combines to create a quick, dynamic backcourt duo. Ford is the tallest of the five starters and is a strong defender, having been named all-district defensive player of the year for the 2015-16 season. Carmichael is a powerful presence as a rebounder, scorer and defender. Lastly, Caslavka is a well-rounded player, contributing significantly as a shooter, defender, driver and ball handler.

Ford and Caslavka, both entering their fourth seasons on varsity, have now become the leaders of the team. Hopefully, this extensive varsity experience from the starting five will result in advanced team chemistry, both on and off the court.

These guys have played a lot of basketball together, from within the program to summer and fall league games,” head basketball coach Jim Smith said. “It should [give the team more chemistry.]”

Despite the veteran starting five, there are still opportunities for less experienced players to earn minutes and make significant contributions to this year’s team.

“A new player on our team is [senior] Chris Pitura, and I think he could have a very good year,” Smith said. “He’s given us some athleticism, and he’s another good shooter, ball handler and defender.”

Pitura, a guard, played freshman basketball before taking a break to focus on baseball. This year, however, he decided to return to the court.

“I always liked basketball, but baseball was always my number one sport,” Pitura said. “I’ve been playing [basketball] with the guys for years now. They’re a very talented group, so I figured it would be fun to come back and play with them.”

Despite the clear abundance of talent and experience, a successful season is no guarantee. However, this season brings a new sense of hope to the players and fans for an successful and exciting season.