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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Blue Devils Look For New Voices

Yes, it was only a scrimmage, but the early returns simply were not acceptable for a team that has high expectations for the 2016-17 season.

On Nov.18, after dropping the third straight game in a four-team scrimmage, the Kenmore West Blue Devils headed for the team room for a heart-to-heart talk.

When that talk was over they emerged a team that had already tasted the sting of defeat. It was a moment they did not want to experience again.

More importantly, they seemed to get the early wake up call that if they hoped to succeed this season they would need to do it as one.

“We just all have to go do our own jobs and things will go our way,” senior Tyler White said after the meeting.

Like every high school team the Blue Devils are dealing with the challenges of filling holes after losing some key pieces to graduation. Gone are hard working Jay Taylor, who gave the team its sense of toughness, six-foot-5 center Aaron Tucker and point guard Terrell Ford. Not only was Ford a presence who could be counted on to drop 20-25 points a game, he was the voice of leadership.

“He did all the things we needed. He could will us to victory,” Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze said.

“And Aaron is tough to replace as well. You think with the three guards (back) there’s better shooting, but if you don’t do the little things, that’s it. I think they’re all finding their roles. Trying to figure out whose really the point guard. They’re all really friendly so no one wants to say ‘hey do a better job of this or that.’ That’s a big difference.”

Meetze believes he has the talent to succeed in the always competitive Niagara Frontier League. The question is who will step up and be that voice to rally the troops when times are tough? Meetze is looking no further than Tyler White. After the meeting, Meetze took White aside and stressed that White was needed to be that vocal guy who could draw the best out of his teammates.

The Blue Devils lineup also includes returning forward Kevin Carpenter and their dangerous three-guard attack of junior Tal James and seniors Kyle Laplante and Tyler Aquilina, who were all starters last year.

“The ceiling is pretty good with this group if we play team ball,” Meetze said. “We had a good summer. Played really well at the Bonaventure team camp, but we were doing all the little things.”

Meetze continued by saying that the little things, like grabbing rebounds, battling for loose balls and boxing out were the things they didn’t do on that Nov.18 scrimmage with Williamsville North, Amherst and Section V McQuaid. Meetze said he knows they will find that groove as a team.

Those four, together with White, should give the Blue Devils a starting line up that can compete with just about any team in WNY.

“I truly think that we have one of the most dangerous teams in Western New York,” White said. “I think, personally, that we have three of the best guards (James, Aquilina and Laplante) in Western New York. It’s just a matter of all coming together and working together. Doing our jobs and we’ll be a great team.”

Erick Rainey, Ronnie Martinez, Jake Poummit, Jack Stoerr, Jacob Robb, Dylan James and Rob Burns complete the opening day roster. Junior Andrew Fron is also on the roster, but is still sidelined because of a knee injury sustained during the football season.

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