Chautauqua Hurricane set to open 3rd season

OBSERVER File Photo Larry Rivers of the Chautauqua Hurricane (2) dribbles upcourt during a game last season. Rivers is one of four players returning from last season’s team, which begins its training camp Monday.

Although the temperatures are frigid and the snow is deep, it’s Hurricane season. The Chautauqua Hurricane semipro basketball team, that is.

Now a member of the North American Basketball League’s Northeast Division, the Hurricane begin training camp for their third season Monday at the Salvation Army in Dunkirk, with some practices at Brocton High School as well.

Their first game is Jan. 26 at their biggest rival, the Jamestown Jackals. The team’s first home game is Feb. 2 against the Buffalo Blue Hawks in Brocton High School’s gym, which will again serve as the home court of the Hurricane.

“We joined a new league because we felt that this would be an opportunity to play across America,” said Hurricane owner and CEO Sixto Rosario. “The NABL has teams across America with four divisions. The national championship will be held in San Antonio, Texas this year.”

Coach Jerome Moss returns for a third season, and said the goals of the franchise remain the same: Get its players exposure so they can play at a higher level, and to give northern Chautauqua County basketball fans a fresh option to root for.

“What we’ve been trying to do is bring in a team of basketball players that’s a little higher-level. It’s above high school … it’s above Division III,” he said. “We want to give guys the opportunity to continue their basketball career, whether overseas or in a higher league at home. We saw this area didn’t have anything like that so we are trying to continue making this work.”

Moss said the team has four returning players: Larry Rivers, Travonta Gatewood, Marcus Feagan and Alex Croxan.

It has also brought in Badrian Taylor, who played at the University of Texas and Tyler, and Raul Moore, who played at Albright College. “We’re looking for those two gentlemen to make a big impact,” Moss said.

Moss said fans should expect a run-and-gun style out of the Hurricane. “Due to our team makeup, I think we’re going ot be a fast paced team … with a really intense kind of game. It should be fun to watch,” he said.

In order to attract more fans and boost community support, the team is planning clinics and tournaments for kids.

“We’re looking to do things for the community to get the community involved,” Moss said. “Last year we had a decent turnout from the community, but obviously we want our fan base to grow … the community did show support (last season) and we thank them for that.”

The Hurricane-sponsored tournament will be for boys and girls from grades 5 through 8. It will take place Friday and Saturday at the Salvation Army and at Northern Chautauqua Central School. The clinics will take place every Saturday from Jan. 20 through Feb. 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army, which is located at 704 Central Ave.

Moss believes that if fans come to a Hurricane game, they will watch a fun brand of basketball.

“I think if people come out they will enjoy what they see,” he said.