In basketball circles the Wasaren has long been known as one of the premier small school leagues in the state. The conference schedule’s a gauntlet run with no nights off, teams knowing if they don’t bring their “A” game they’ll head home with a loss.
That being said the Hoosick Falls Panthers over the last five seasons have simply dominated the league. Winners in 70 of their last 72 league games, including 40 straight have led to five consecutive Wasaren crowns for the Panthers.
“Our kids have always enjoyed playing with a target on their backs and keeping “it” going”, said longtime head coach Mike Lilac. “They proudly accept upholding that tradition.”
This year’s version of the Panthers will combine that winning tradition with a nice group of returning players.
Juniors Jon Kempf and Max Kipp started every game last year as sophomores with seniors Isaac Friel and Brennen Andrew and juniors Isiah Burnett and Dmitri Rose all seeing quality minutes as well, setting the Falls up to once again reload.
“It looks like we’ll have more depth than we usually have” said Lilac. “We have some solid players moving up from last year’s J.V. team and our first ever transfer student, Tristan Williams, a 6’4″ forward who moved here from Cambridge and has blended into the team nicely.”
As for the Panthers identity this season, expect more of the same. “We’ve always leaned on our tough man to man defense to keep us going through any sluggish offensive periods” offered the head mentor. “I hope that can continue.”
When asked about contenders for this year’s league title Lilac said, “I think our whole division is very tough. “Anyone in our division can compete for a league title.”
Lilac noted there are six new coaches in the 10 team league, one of them being his son Alex who takes over the Hoosic Valley program. “I look forward to a special night against his team on January 11th in Hoosick Falls.”
As for what his team must do this year to continue their run of success Lilac responded, “We have to play solid defense and play unselfishly. We need to be prepared to get the other team’s best effort. We always will get our opponents best shot.”
And to be sure the Panthers expect nothing less. They know they’re riding a 40 game winning streak in Wasaren play, and every team in the conference understands again this year, that a league title runs through Hoosick Falls.