WAYLAND — Ten area high school basketball teams will help tip off the 2022-2023 season Saturday, Dec. 3 at Wayland-Cohocton High School in the third annual Way-Co Hall of Fame Basketball Showcase.
The Showcase features five games — four boys and one girls game. Some of the top small school teams in Section V and the state will take the floor with proceeds benefiting the Wayland-Cohocton Sports Hall of Fame. There will be six teams from the Livingston County Athletic Association, two from the Genesee Region, one from Steuben County and one from the Finger Lakes East.
This year's Showcase will be dedicated to two long time coaches in the Wayland-Cohocton School District, Ellsworth “Ozzie” Tripp and Joel Shaffer.
Coach Tripp started boys' soccer at Cohocton in 1960 and was the boys’ varsity soccer coach until the merger with Wayland in 1993. During his tenure, he also served as athletic director and coached Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Track, Tennis and Cheerleading. Coach Tripp's soccer teams won 312 games. He was Coach of the Year five times and had the top-seeded team eight times, and won the Catherman Award for Sportsmanship 13 times. Coach Tripp's 1984 sectional champion soccer team advanced to the state quarterfinals. In 2001, Coach Trip was inducted into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Ellsworth Tripp's greatest contribution was his vision that led to the Cohocton Sports Complex which opened in 1985 without the use of tax dollars. The three soccer fields and other sports facilities were Tripp’s way of helping combat the abuse of drugs and alcohol in the Wayland-Cohocton area. More than 200 games are played at the complex each year, including the Boys State Championships on three separate occasions, prompting the Cohocton Sports Club to honor him with a Distinguished Service Award in 2003 and now the Complex is named after him. Tripp was inducted into the Wayland-Cohocton Hall of Fame in 2005.
Joel Shaffer was a math teacher at Cohocton from 1970-1993 and Wayland-Cohocton from 1993-2007. Shaffer was a huge influence as a coach in the Wayland-Cohocton District. During his own high school career, he was an accomplished three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and baseball. He played four years of college soccer and one year of baseball at Hamilton College. After college, Joel’s teaching career began along with his love of coaching. For 50-plus years, Joel coached over 135 teams in various sports at all levels. Even after Joel retired from teaching, his commitment to coaching continued. He instilled teamwork, motivation, determination and sportsmanship in his athletes; all of which were lifelong skills.
Joel was one of the original members of the Cohocton Sports Boosters. For over 30 years, along with a handful of other wonderful individuals, he was a driving force behind the success of the Cohocton Sports Complex with countless hours cooking french fries and flipping burgers in the concession stand and pitching in wherever he was needed. His favorite sport as a player was soccer; as a spectator, it was basketball; and as a coach, it was baseball.
Joel will always be remembered for his coaching motto, “Have fun. Play hard, Play clean. Be humble in victory and defeat.” A motto he exemplified to his athletes, students and community in his own behavior daily. Joel was inducted into the Wayland-Cohocton Hall of Fame in 2019. Joel passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 7, 2021.
Organizers of this event have been very successful over the first two years of the showcase with five teams winning sectionals the first year and three others losing in the championship game. Four teams won sectionals last season with two others losing in the finals.
Dansville looks to continue last season's success
There are lots of storylines surrounding each matchup this season.
The first game will feature Dansville coming off its first LCAA championship since 1993 playing Marcus Whitman, a team currently undergoing a youth movement due to injuries during football season that will see them start only one senior alongside three sophomores and a freshman.
“We return three starters and every guy on this year's team was a big part of our success last year,” Dansville coach Dave Moodie said.
“We will start a very young lineup," Marcus Whitman coach Greg O’Connor said. "The younger guys have been putting a lot of time in the offseason for several years, so they will compete in every game as that is their nature. We are full of youth, and it would be easy to say we can build on that, but this youth wants to make an impact now. Youth will not be an excuse for a loss, but that loss will be an opportunity to grow. The impact from senior leadership and the determination of the youth could make for a surprising season."
Pavilion meets youthful Hornell in lone girls game
The girl’s game will feature two teams on complete opposite ends of the spectrum as Pavilion comes in as defending sectional champions led by Two Senior All-Stars Lauren Kingsley and Karlee Zinkievich playing a Hornell team that fell in the sectional championship game last season with a roster full of sharpshooting young guns who can score in bunches. They met last season with Pavilion winning 62-61. Hornell is seeking its first ever sectional championship. Pavilion is coming off an extended volleyball season that saw them win sectionals. The volleyball team is also led by Kingsley and Zinkievich.
“With the success of the volleyball team over the last several years, the girls are used to having no break or a very short break before basketball starts. Recovery from their Fall seasons, and preparation for a long Winter season is the focus early on,” Pavilion coach Ben Schwenebraten said.
“This is the youngest team we have had at the varsity level so it will be an interesting but hopefully exciting season for us,” Hornell coach Brian Dyring said.
Host Wayland-Cohocton set to take on Elba
Elba from the GR is 2-0 in the Showcase and fell to archrival Batavia Notre-Dame in the sectional championship game last season and will take on the host Wayland-Cohocton Golden Eagles. Many of the players on Elba’s roster were members of the sectional championship football team and were still playing football when basketball practice started in November. That could play a factor early in the basketball season.
“We certainly are going to be impacted and it drives me crazy how NYS does not factor in the small schools that get just killed with overlapping of sports seasons. Regardless, we are really going to be behind the eight ball,” Elba coach Ciaci Zambito said.
“The showcase is always a fun way to kick off the basketball season. Getting all these successful programs in the same gym makes for a competitive day of basketball. This year should be no different as Coach Jim Burke and many others do a phenomenal job getting this whole event organized,” Wayland-Cohocton coach Jake Kenney said.
New look for Batavia Notre-Dame against Geneseo
Batavia Notre-Dame will be making their first appearance in the Showcase and for the first time in 41 years Mike Rapone will not be the head coach of the Fighting Irish. After 10 sectional championships and two state championships Coach Rapone has turned over the Coaching duties to his son Mikey. However, he didn’t leave the cupboard bare coming off a sectional championship last season before falling to eventual State Champion Avoca-Prattsburgh in the State Qualifier. Mikey Rapone is no stranger to the program or the Notre-Dame faithful, he was a player on the 2001 State Championship team and has been a coach in the program for the last 14 years.
“I started in 2008 as a program assistant, basically meaning I helped out where I could on JV and varsity," Mikey Rapone said. "In 2013 I was named the JV head coach. I was the JV head coach until 2018 when I stepped down to allow my uncle (Rick Rapone) to come to Notre-Dame from LeRoy. I stayed on as an associate head coach or assistant head coach to my father, hoping to someday take the reins. I was named 'head coach in waiting' last year and he began to let me start to install the offenses and defenses I like to run. He gave me the ability to start to rotate players the way I like to (NBA style rotation with 8-9 guys) and gave me the freedom to do all this while he was there to oversee everything I was doing. It was extremely strange to look over on the first day of practice to where he normally stood and not see him there."
Notre-Dame will be playing a tradition rich Geneseo program with two key players returning who caused some havoc in the LCAA last season in seniors Ethan Bennett and Ryan Whitney. Bennett averaged 18 points a game last season and is a threat from long-range knocking down 55 three-pointers his junior year. Whitney averaged 14.2 point per game last season. Geneseo had two signature wins last season over eventual sectional champions York and Avon.
“Ethan and Ryan both averaged a lot of minutes per game last season. To say that we are excited to have them, in particular back, would be an understatement. Both guys can guard 1-5, score the basketball and create opportunities every night. Both players had great summers, put in a lot of time in the preseason, and most importantly, have been becoming better leaders,” Geneseo coach Gregg Hepler said.
Defending state champs Avoca-Prattsburgh cap Showcase against York
The main event of the day will feature the defending Class D state champion Avoca-Prattsburgh Titans playing York. A-P currently has a 38-game winning streak spanning two seasons and have not lost a game since joining forces. A-P returns two All-State players in senior Sawyer Devoe and junior Macoy Putnam. In 27 games last season Putnam had nine double doubles, and one triple double, scored in double figures in 23 games and scored 20 or more points in six games. He had double digit assists in 12 games. He scored 28 points in the State semifinals. He had a career high 16 assists Feb. 9 versus Lyons in Victor. He was named the MVP of the Steuben County Tournament, a Steuben County First Team All-Star, Class D1 All-Tournament Team and MVP of the State Final Four in Glens Falls.
At 5-11 Sawyer Devoe isn’t your typical center or power forward, but he proved night in and night out that he was a force to be reckoned with in the post. Despite being outsized almost every game last season, he dominated. Devoe had 11 double doubles, scored in double figures in 22 out of 25 games, and scored 20 or more points nine times. He had a season-high 18 rebounds versus Jasper-Troupsburg. He grabbed double digit rebounds in 11 games. He scored a season high 30 points with 15 rebounds in the State Quarterfinals versus Westfield. Devoe was a Steuben County First Team All-Star, was selected to the Steuben County All-Tournament team, a Class D1 Tournament All-Star and won the Sportsmanship award at the State Final Four in Glens Falls.
The Titans are playing a York team who is coming off a Class C sectional championship and also return two All-State players in Maddox Timothy and Jake Pangrazio. Timothy was Section V Class C3 Tournament MVP, and a LCAA Division 3 All-Star. Pangrazio was also an LCAA D3 All-Star.
A-P also returns starting forward Haden Abbott and the first two players off the bench last season, Jamel Crowder and Evan Campbell.
“I feel that we are going to need good minutes from Crowder, Campbell and (Jamie) Reagan to fill the void of players we lost from last year," A-P Coach Brian Putnam said. "I feel that the overall success of the season will depend on how these three develop, and how we can bring a few bench players along. Putnam, Devoe and Abbott are three returning starters that we will lean on to carry the load. I feel that there is probably an expectation for another deep run. I think that it’s my job to make sure that the players don't see or feel it as pressure. This is a very different team. Even though we only lost three players that is a lot of minutes that need to be accounted for."
Prattsburgh defeated York in the first Showcase 71-69 and York lost to Avoca-Prattsburgh 59-45 in the second annual Showcase.
“Playing a team like Avoca-Prattsburgh off the bat is always such an interesting challenge. They are so fast and can throw so many things at you right on the run that you have to be mature and grown up to handle the adversity you are sure to face. Coach Putnam and his guys do a wonderful job of keeping the pressure on you all game, a few moments of lost focus or poor decision making, and you are in big trouble. It will be fun to see how we handle that early on in the season and regardless of how it goes using the experiences gained in this game to foster continued growth,” York coach Ed Orman Jr. said.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Noon – Dansville vs. Marcus Whitman
2:00 p.m. – Hornell vs. Pavilion (Girls)
4:00 p.m. – Wayland-Cohocton vs. Elba
6:00 p.m. – Geneseo vs. Batavia Notre-Dame
8:00 p.m. – Avoca-Prattsburgh vs. York
Dansville, Hornell, Wayland-Cohocton, Geneseo and Avoca-Prattsburgh will be home teams.
This article originally appeared on The Evening Tribune: Hall of Fame Showcase at Wayland-Cohocton begins basketball season