Flames promise energized season

By MEL PERKINS

Head coach Joe Cangilla returns this year for his third season with the Flames, and the players appear to have a renewed attitude with more energy

The Flames lost to Brentwood in the first game of the Brentwood Tip-Off Tournament, but rebounded nicely when they beat Propel Montour 80 – 42 the next night in the consolation game. Northgate’s second loss came at the hands of Avonworth when they fell 47 – 41 in a hard fought game that wasn’t decided until the last minute of the contest.

The Flames will rely on three returning starters from last year. Taking the lead will be 6’3” senior Malcolm Randall. Randall put up 38 points against Propel Montour and he can score inside and outside the paint. Defensively, he will be charged with matching up with the opposing team’s big men. Randall is a solid leader and an all-time glass cleaner on the boards. The quality of his play was witnessed last season when he faced off with some talented players at the center position.

Senior Ryan Puskar returns with a full season of starting under his belt. Puskar, at 5’10,” is a reliable outside threat, and will pose problems for his opponents around the perimeter. Puskar will knock down the three-ball while looking to create plays inside the paint. As a senior, Puskar will also provide the Flames with valuable leadership.

Also returning from last year as a seasoned starter is 6’2” junior Raylan Whetsell. You will see Whetsell at the point guard and shooting guard position throughout the game. Whetsell has a nose for the hoop, doing most of his damage inside the paint, but don’t be fooled, he can also score from the perimeter and is going to cause opposing teams a lot of match-up problems. Whetsell will also play a major role in the rebounding department.

Finishing up the starting line-up and contributing in the regular rotation, Cangilla will be expecting a lot from several players. Bringing experience from last year is 5’11” junior Jacian Sustayta. Sustayta picked up some valuable playing time last year, and he plays hard defense, getting steals and initiating the fast break. Sustayta can also drive to the hoop and can shoot well from the perimeter. Also, getting into the mix will be 6’0” junior Nate O’Mara and 5’11” junior James Eubanks. O’Mara commands a strong presence inside, and the team will lean heavily on him when it comes to rebounding and scoring in the paint. Eubanks will bring perimeter shooting along with quickness on defense, especially when they get into their pressure defenses.

Also looking to add some quality minutes, Cangilla will be looking to 5’6” sophomore Lavar Green, 5’9” sophomore Josh Dugan, and 5’10” freshman Jeff Roberts.

Cangilla is excited about the season beginning and when asked about the start of section play coming up, he said, “I am feeling pretty confident. Being my third year, it is one of the first years that I can confidently sub four or five guys off of the bench and not really lose a beat. And, it is pretty nice to have that luxury.” From the looks of things, this team is going to play fast because they have the depth, but it is crucial that the defense does not let up.