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Underdog Wildcats Expect To Compete With ECIC III Powers

The championship expectations never change for the Depew High School boys basketball team. The Wildcats are up against a huge challenge with a loaded ECIC III schedule in their faces.

Whether or not Depew will be in the hunt at the end of the end of the season remains to be seen. But the Wildcats have proven in the preseason that they’re ready to give it their best shot.

“Every year, we say our goal is to win the league,” veteran coach Larry Jones said. “I don’t know if that’s realistic with Maryvale, Cheektowaga and East Aurora being really loaded. But we’re going to compete. Our goal right now is to compete our rear-end off every game. And from there on if we can get a few things to go our way during sectional time and make it down to Buff State, that’s always a goal.”

The Wildcats finished last season at 9-14 overall. Entering the Section VI playoffs as a No. 8 seed, the Wildcats won a blowout prequarterfinal game against City Honors but lost a quarterfinal game against Olean and missed a chance to play at Buffalo State College and the sectional semifinals for a second straight season.

The Wildcats remain an underdog heading into the season but they’re confident this season will be better than last.

“I think it’s looking better than last year,” junior forward Chad Biersbach said. “We’re all communicating better than last year; last year we didn’t talk as much. And I think this team is just better friendships with the whole team.”

The Wildcats success will largely depend on Biersbach, a third-year varsity player. He averaged 16.9 points per game last season and his 371 total points was more than 200 points over anyone else on the team.

“With the team looking as good as it is now, hopefully (opponents) won’t be doing box-and-one and double-teams. We have some guys that can shoot so if teams are just looking at me, I have some guys I can dish it out to looking to score.”

Among the other expected contributors for Depew this season is junior Jordan Cieselski, an original Wildcat who comes back after playing at West Seneca East. Jones said Cieselski is a kid who “will have the ball in his hands a lot for us.”

Sophomore Sean Miller has been promoted from the junior varsity team and his shooting skills have already impressed; they are a big reason for Depew’s optimism. Senior forward Austin Pilley is coming off a strong football season as Depew’s top running back, as is 6-foot-3 senior Tyler Biersbach in his third varsity year.

“I’m pleasantly surprised,” Jones said. “I like our discipline at this point. The things we’re teaching; I’m starting to see more on a daily basis. At times, that didn’t happen last year. I like our cohesion a little more, right now. Seems to be a group that’s willing to listen to each other and do things for each other. We talked about how liking each other and caring about each other is an important part of basketball.”

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