NCCC welcomes fresh faces

SARANAC LAKE – The North Country Community College men’s basketball team downed Word of Life 82-37 on Tuesday night.

The Saints took control early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead to start the game. They never looked back from there.

Zane Ramsdell keyed the early run with six of his team-high 12 points. Srdgan Grcic scored his only four points of the game during that run.

Overall, the Saints had a balanced attack. Only two players scored in double digits and 16 contributed points.

Donny Patraw was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points.

“We shared the basketball,” Saints coach Chad LaDue said. “It was nice to see all 17 guys get a chance to play. Our talent level is a little higher than theirs, to be honest. Going into it, we kind of knew that, and we just wanted to not play sloppy and not get any bad habits, and really work on getting better defensively.”

The win was the first of the season for the Saints, who are now 1-2.

LaDue said the team has had a lot of turnover from last season and he’s just getting a feel for the players. Because of that, he hasn’t set any expectations other than just improving day by day.

“I have 17 new faces out of the 20 guys on the roster – only three returners – so it’s going to take a little while,” LaDue said. “We’re getting to know them as much as they’re getting to know us. You know, Michael Boyea is our leader both on and off the floor. And you know, I expect big things out of him this year, and I expect things out of our two transfers Ege (Cinel) and Nikola (Cvetanovic). They both need to play well for us to be good. We really have 12 guys that we feel comfortable on the floor anytime.”

LaDue expects Cinel, Thomas Barnes, Boyea and Cvetanovic to play on the perimeter while Matthew Gullotta and John Dunlavey will lead in the paint.

“We don’t really have a legit true post, but Matt does a nice job in the post for us. Then John Dunlavey from Malone, we do expect big things out of him as well,” LaDue said.

One change this year is that more than half the players are international, an increase from the past. The team features players from Serbia, Turkey, Montenegro and Australia, along with some North Country towns such as Chateaugay and Malone.

“We have 10 international kids,” LaDue said. “Traditionally, I usually have three or four, but it’s just something with recruiting. We graduated a large class, so I had to bring in more players this year.”

The Saints will also have a new face on the bench this season as Joe Akey has joined Rob Roy as an assistant coach. Akey, who attended North Country and played basketball for them, had been the head coach at Paul Smith’s College the past several seasons.

“Joe played for me from 2004 to 2006, and then when he was done over at Paul Smith’s, it was a no-brainer,” LaDue said. “Whenever we can welcome back one of our own back to the family, it’s a nice addition to our program.”

The North Country men return to action this weekend, playing Corning on Saturday and Finger Lakes on Sunday. Both games will be at the Chateaugay High School. North Country was unable to host the games because it is having its annual craft fair this weekend in the gymnasium.

At least two of the players should be familiar with the gym. Both Boyea and Devon Barnes both attended high school at Chateaugay.

NCCC women rely on athleticism

The North Country women’s basketball team also had success against Word of Life Tuesday, pulling off a 78-29 victory.

The Saints were led by Tori Pennington’s 12 points and Abbey LaPage’s 11. The pair were among 12 Saints who scored in the game.

Saints coach Jerrad Dumont was happy with the outcome that brought his team to 2-1 on the season.

“It went really well,” he said. “I thought we got out in transition really well. We got a chance to really run all of our sets through and get some easy points in transition. We played 2-3 (zone defense) tonight because I thought we had to work on it for our regional games this weekend, and I thought we were really active in it. And I thought it was tough for them to get shots and reverse the basketball.”

“I think we need to work on our rebounding a little bit, especially for this weekend. I think Word of Life had like 10 second-chance points against us, which isn’t good.”

Like the men, the women have a lot of new faces this season. Dumont hopes that they’ll help the squad rebound from last season.

“We have Veronica Uras and Emily LaPage returning from last year,” Dumont said. “Last year, we went 7-17, which was a tough year for us. It was a very tough year, but those kids had got 24 games of experience to help them for this year, which is really good.

“We brought in 11 new freshman, which are really carrying the scoring for us this year. Courtney Boyea from Chateaugay is doing really, really well, and Tori Pennington from Bear, Delaware, has really been playing really, really well.”

Dumont expects this season’s team to be strong on defense, relying on an athletic squad.

“We’ll be able to get up and defend in full court and we will get out in transition offensively,” he said. “Hopefully, get easy buckets. Speed the game up.”

“We’re very athletic, and we can really get up and defend. Teams that slow us down in the halfcourt, play zone in the halfcourt. We will have to worry about hitting shots and making sure we get out in transition and pushing the basketball.”

The women will also travel to Chateaugay this weekend to host Corning on Saturday and the Finger Lakes on Sunday.