Hurricane seeking division lead tonight

Many basketball fans in Chautauqua County may be feeling down after the regular season of both college and high school basketball concluded last month. With only the Fredonia Lady Billies high school team remaining in the playoffs, local basketball is scarce this time of year.

But fear not — the Chautauqua Hurricane is here.

The Hurricane, a member of the North American Basketball League, take on division rival Jamestown tonight at Brocton Central School with first place in the Northeast Conference on the line.

The Hurricane bridges the gap between small town and big city sports experiences. Featuring a lineup of players with college basketball experience, the Hurricane — like the rest of the NABL — plays by NBA rules. However, the environment — created by playing home games at Brocton — appeals to the small-town fan.

That environment has paid off for Chautauqua so far this season, as the Hurricane is undefeated at home this year. The team is 5-3 overall on the year, with a 4-0 record at Brocton.

Coach Jerome Moss hopes the home court advantage will be at an all-time high tonight against the rival Jackals.

“We’ve been getting good fan support,” said Moss. “We get a good crowd and the guys are very familiar with the floor. Being on our home court, hopefully, will be an advantage for us.”

The Hurricane has fallen to Jamestown both times the two teams have matched up this season so far. The season opening loss — 100-62 on Jan. 26 — was the low point of the season for the Hurricane, but the more recent matchup was more encouraging.

The Hurricane has won four of its last five games, with the only loss coming to the Jackals on Feb. 23, 119-96.

“What we took from those two matchups is that we have to be able to get up and down the court with them,” said Moss. “They are a very good transition team, and if you are slacking, they will take advantage of that and beat you to the basket.”

“We’ve got to be conscious of getting back on defense. (We can’t) let them get easy fastbreaks on us,” added Moss.

Chautauqua is coming off a 145-143 victory over the Ohio Bootleggers last Friday in Brocton. With a score like that, it’s clear to see that Chautauqua has found its groove offensively. Marcus Feagin led the way with 37 points and 22 rebounds in the Hurricane win, and Moss expects big things from him again tonight.

“Marcus has been having a very good season so far,” said Moss. “He does a little bit of everything. He’s a good rebounder, a good scorer … he’s a very good player.”

The key player to watch from the visitors tonight is Michael Davenport. The 6-foot-5 guard played collegiately at St. Bonaventure and averaged over 11 points per game as a full-time starter in 2010-11.

“One kid who seems to hurt us every year is Davenport,” said Moss. “He’s a very good basketball player. That’s one guy we’ll definitely key on.”

Tonight is a big test for Chautauqua, with a share of the Northeast Conference up for grabs. The Hurricane looks to have its hometown fans and recent in-game success lead to a crucial victory. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @bradencarmen