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STAC BOYS BASKETBALL: OWEGO REGROUPING FOLLOWING HEAVY GRADUATION LOSSES (2023-12-01)

Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — The Owego boys basketball team will have its work cut out for it if it hopes to challenge for another Section IV championship.

The River Hawks graduated seven players, four of them starters, from a 15-7 team which reached the Class B state quarterfinals before its season ended against eventual champion Westhill.

The lone starter back is senior Riley Loomis, who averaged 5.5 points per game. Loomis and the remaining returning players averaged a combined 12.4 points per contest, the fewest in coach Chris Evans’ lengthy tenure.

Coming back are seniors Ben Rollison, Kam Wicklund, Talan Schumacher and Owen Bronk, as well as junior Joseph Palladino.

Newcomers whom Evans hopes can help the team along are Zach Bensley, Jack Buchsbaum, Damian Vizina, Danny Tavelli, Matt Higgins, Nick Brown and Hunter Slater. Vizina is a senior, the others juniors.

Noticeable graduation losses are 6-foot-6 twin towers John and Joe Bangel, both of whom are now playing at Wells College, along with Drew Tavelli, Ryan Pryor, Jace Riegel, John Larter and Lucas Harbol.

With the addition of a sixth classification, the River Hawks bump up a class also.

“Moving up to Class A (we've been here before) could present a significant challenge for a relatively young squad,” Evans said. “We will continue to play hard and improve each day. We may play quite a bit differently as opposed to previous years when we took advantage of our inside strength. We are all looking forward to the stiff competition.”

Competition in the STAC Central division, where the Hawks were 8-2 last season, won’t get easier either with Waverly coming over from the IAC.

“Waverly is absolutely loaded with arguably the top player in Section IV (Joey Tamasso) and some newcomers from Athens,” said Evans. “Seton will be strong once again with their tremendous guard, Drew Ericson (not to mention a seasoned veteran coach in Tommy Dempsey); Oneonta will be much improved; Susquehanna Valley has a new coach as Dave Springer (formally at Binghamton) will take over the reigns there; Chenango Valley is always tough.

“In Class A, Maine-Endwell and JC will be the favorites as both teams are highly athletic and skilled.”

Owego opens the season Saturday, hosting IAC power Moravia in the first round of the 3rd annual Charlie Sibley Memorial Basketball Tournament at 4 p.m.

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IN PHOTO: Owego’s Joseph Palladino. ... TCSR STOCK PHOTO.

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