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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Hutch Looks to Engineer Another Championship

New Hutch-Tech head coach Dan Conley didn’t hesitate when he talked about what would be key to a successful season: Character.

Conley, who replaces former head coach Dave Sardo, said the goal for 2016-17 is an obvious one. Try to regain the Canisius Cup championship that they won two seasons ago. Step one of that journey is realizing the level of commitment that it will take to become champions.

“Character. Character people. It’s a work in progress,” Conley said. “Character is No.1. Number two is that they play hard and that they have a legacy to keep up. Hutch-Tech in the city schools is always in the running for a championship. Basically those two things. Legacy and character. When these girls graduate they need to look back on what they did for the program. Did they keep it going in the right direction?”

It won’t be easy for the Lady Engineers as they not only lost key players because of graduation, but also because some girls opted to go out for Hutch-Tech’s brand new indoor track program.

So Conley said he will be relying heavily on his senior captains in forward Amani Watson, forward Temara Cross and point guard Nakia Funderburk.

“I rely on them totally and I need them to set good examples, too,” He said. “It’s a work in progress. They work hard. They’re nice girls. All three of them are excellent girls.” Funderburk said the roles of the captains will be crucial as it’s up to them to set the right tone every day.

“Just basically a lot of mentorship in and out of practice. During school,” Funderburk said. “Getting together, having fun together. Building more and more chemistry. It’s just a work in progress. This year is a whole new team, a new mind set. We just strive for a big goal. We want to make it farther in sectionals and get to a point where we can call ourselves better champions than we were before.”

Funderburk added it was also the duty of the captains to remind the girls that with a new coach there will be changes to some degree. Don’t fight those changes. Embrace them with a team first attitude.

“We’ve been totally open minded to any change,” Funderburk said. “It’s a different coach. Different feel. Different outlook on the game as well as how he coaches and how his (system of) subs works.”

Hutch-Tech will also be counting on senior forward Kiara Ford and junior guards Janeka Jackson and Merce Dejesus, who are all returning players.

Losing 63-27 to the host Lady Bulldogs in the opening round of the Kenmore East Tip-Off Tournament was a hard pill to swallow for Hutch. But going toe-to-toe with a respected program like Ken-East which went to the Section VI Class A-2 championship game last season is the kind of game that will only make them better in the long run.

“They knew that coming in. They knew (East) was a good team with a game under their belt and they have a good tradition,” Conley said. “We’re taking it one day at a time and getting better. Even though we only scored 27 points we had a lot of opportunities. It’s early in the season, you’ll miss a few baskets and I can’t get upset about that. We had a lot of situations where we had great plays, we just didn’t make the shots. And down the road that will change.”

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