NEW YORK MILLS, N.Y. (WKTV) - The defending Class D state champion boys basketball team from New York Mills has revelled in the glory of their perfect season last winter, but now they're focusing on this year.
Gone are superstar Fred Russ, as well as key big man Jeff Albright. Jake Kehrli, who was a big contributor in the Marauders' two state games last year, is out, possibly for the season, after sustaining an injury before football began in the fall.
So that mean senior center Matt Welch and junior point guard J.T. Ross will have to shoulder much of the load. But in order to get back to even the state semis, where the Maruaders have been each of the last two years, they'll need other guys, like Nick Etienne, Addison Wolanin and Cody Mariotti, to also step up.
"We have a lot of weapons this year, shooting outside, Cody can work inisde, too," says Welch. "It's not like we lost a lot of our game, we still have a lot of things we can do."
"I think we have more speed this year, stamina-wise and we have a lot more depth at the guard position," adds Ross. " So if our guards play really good this year, then it's going to let Matt have an open game more, shoot from the outside and bring it inside. So we just got to find Matt."
Also back for at least one more year is head coach Mike Adey, who has 462 wins and was inducted into the NY State Basketball Hall of Fame a day after the championship win last winter.
"We're really excited about playing," says Adey. "I could have retired last year and rode off into the sunset. I didn't want to do that because I knew we had kids this year that love to play basketball and I love to coach basketball, so we're looking forward to it. But it's a new year, we're not defending anything. We're trying to win a first championship for this team."