Cougars' prospects bright after early-season debut

CHESTERTOWN - Early last week, North Warren Central Athletic Director Jason Humiston was guarded about the prospects of his boys basketball team for 2009-10.

Citing falling enrollment, small class sizes and the tough competition in the Adirondack League, he said the boys team had their work cut out for them.

But Monday, the outlook for the coming season had a new lustre. Over the weekend, the boys team won its own Thanksgiving tournament by beating Minerva-Newcomb by a commanding 50-23, then defeating Johnsburg 39-28 for the championship.

"I was fairly happy - two wins are two wins," he said, still cautious. "The early-season tournament let us see what we need to work on."

The Cougars have a strong lineup this year, with reasonable height and possessing a good variety of skills, Humiston said.

The key is for each player to dedicate fully to improvement, he said. The improvement must include holding onto the ball more, as the team turned over possession 22 times in the game against Johnsburg. Such generosity with an opponent spells defeat in the Adirondack League, he said.

"We've got to work more on some defensive stuff," Humiston said, adding that the team's low-post game, anchored by Benn Frazier, needs work.

"Frazier has played well for us," the coach said, noting that Frazier was on Junior Varsity last year. "He's improved a lot, and he's stronger than an ox - he rebounds well and can command his place under the basket."

Bryan Beckler, Humiston said, also is showing a lot of promise, working hard whether it's rebounding, stingy defense or creating turnovers.

Humiston said the team is in the midst of developing chemistry, aided by players attending basketball camp and competing during the offseason against squads from far-larger schools.

"We have a young team, but we're going to work hard, move forward and see what happens," he said.

But the team may just accomplish more than expected, like its predecessors.

The 2007-08 season was particularly outstanding, with the team extending a winning streak deep into the Section II tournament, ending up a Sectional semifinalist. This campaign into the off-season captured the attention and prompted the pride of Northern Warren County residents.

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