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STAC BOYS BASKETBALL: EXPECTATIONS HIGH AS WAVERLY'S JUDSON EYES START TO 2023-24 SEASON (2023-12-15)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Winning a state football title is great for the football program, and the school itself, but it can put the basketball program a bit behind heading into the season, and that’s what longtime Waverly coach Lou Judson is facing, but he’s not complaining as expectations are high heading into the 2023-24 season.

(Waverly opens the season tonight at Windsor.)

“Once again the football season extended into the start of basketball — three weeks this year after winning a state title,” said Judson. “We were extremely behind with everything, and a bit banged up, but the guys are working very hard to get back into basketball shape.

“Getting the guys conditioned is the number one priority,” he noted. “I’m not exactly sure who we are or what we’re going to be, but I know I have a lot of depth and talent on this team.  

“Some of these players have never played together and building team chemistry is vital as we move forward throughout the season,” added Judson. “Every minute in that gym will be very critical as we move into the holidays.”

The Wolverines return all-state guard Joey Tomasso, who averaged a school-record 30.9 points per game last season, but he is on the shelf due a knee injury suffered in the state playoffs. He is expected to return two to three weeks.

Waverly also returns senior guard Jay Pipher, 6-4 senior Jake VanHouten, 6-2 power forward Jake Benjamin, sophomore shooting guard Hogan Shaw, 6-6 senior Jon Searles, and 6-2 senior guard Thomas Morley.

The Wolverines also bring in a trio of notable transfers in Ethan Perry, a four-year starter at Tioga, 6-5 forward Xavier Watson, and 6-1 guard Kolsen Keathley, as well as J.T. Williams, a 6-2 junior forward up from JVs, junior guard Nick Mattison, who missed last season with an injury, and junior forward Jack Cheresnowsky, a transfer from Athens.

“We have a few players who will be competing for starting roles and minutes off the bench,” said Judson. “I anticipate our practices will be extremely competitive.

“This team will pride itself on its toughness, defense, scoring in a variety of ways, and overwhelming teams with our depth,” he added.

Judson said the sky is the limit for the Wolverines in 2023-24

“We have a lot more size this year and will have at least two players on the floor that are 6-foot-4,” said Judson.

“I’ll have a lot of good athletes who can play multiple positions,” he noted.”This team will play fast, with high energy, and be very aggressive on both ends of the floor.  

“We have the potential to be one of the best teams in the area, regardless of class size once we get completely healthy,” added Judson. “Our overall expectation / goals are: win the Valley Christmas Tournament, win our division, win overall STAC championship, win sectional championship, and make a run in the State playoffs.”

AROUND THE STAC CENTRAL DIVISION / CLASS B
The Wolverines will play a home-and-away series with its five STAC Central Divisional rivals in Owego, Seton Catholic, Chenango Forks, and Chenango Valley, and will crossover against Oneonta, Norwich, Windsor, and Susquehanna Valley in games that will count in the STAC standings.

There have been some changes in Section IV with New York State adding a sixth classification. Waverly will remain in Class B, but traditional powers like Owego, Norwich, and Windsor have bumped up to Class A.

However, traditional strong Class C schools like Sidney, Greene, Watkins Glen, Trumansburg, and Tioga among other have moved up the Class B.

“Class B is always loaded with good teams,” said Judson. “With Seton Catholic’s run to the State finals two seasons ago, they are up to Class A.

“Chenango Forks will be good, but lost its best player,”he noted. “Oneonta and Chenango Valley were young and will be very good as well.

“Lansing returns two of their best players, ad Tioga is now in Class B and has a talented team,” added Judson.

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IN PHOTO: Waverly’s Joey Tomasso. … VSR STOCK PHOTO.

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