Chautauqua Hurricane prepare for season to begin this Friday
BROCTON — Although most of Western New York is fixated upon sports such as football, hockey and baseball with professional teams located so close in Buffalo, one local semipro team is looking to bring rise to a different sport in the area — basketball.
The Chautauqua Hurricane semipro basketball team will return to the North American Basketball League’s Northeast Division for their fourth season, which kicks off on Friday against the Elmira Eagles at Brocton High School.
“We’re excited just to get the season going,” said Hurricanes owner and CEO Sixto Rosario. “Last year we went to the championship and this year we’re hoping to get back there and bring something back to the area.”
Rosario and his wife have now owned the team for three seasons, and now that the 2019 season is just around the corner, they’ve brought in a new voice to lead the Hurricane.
That voice is new head coach Ticoh Dallo.
Dallo will inherit a team that lost in the NABL Northeast Conference championship series last season to the Jamestown Jackals in a best-of-three series, but while winning is important, so is getting these players the exposure they need to play professionally.
“One goal for us is to get at least one player to the next level — maybe overseas,” said Dallo. “Another goal for us is to win the division and win a championship.”
The Hurricane might have gained some exposure earlier this year at the Dubois Overseas Exposure Showcase, where they made it all the way to the finals before falling to the Dubois Dream.
Chautauqua County is an area that is very heavily invested in sports, but one thing the Hurricane would like to do is bring more attention to basketball, which is often overlooked by other sports such as football, hockey and baseball.
“Personally I do youth training,” said Dallo. “We do clinics here. We’re in season for in-house league with our 5th and 6th graders. So we’re bringing attention to basketball in the area through our youth and that can go a long way.”
Providing the youth with the tools to be able to participate and grow in the game of basketball is part of the mission Rosario wants to instill in the Hurricane.
“Just wanting to help the youth take the next step and get to the next level,” said Rosario about bringing awareness to basketball. “We actually have entry level basketball at 2nd grader and (Dallo) helped get it going. He does a lot of training with kids who have no experience with the game to begin with.”
“We want to keep a fun environment,” said Dallo. “We want them to keep coming back year to year and have them see that gradual improvement in their game.”
As for the team, the Hurricane want to return to the same level they were last year, and even take the next step. For the roster, Coach Dallo has his eye on one guy to step up big this season.
“One guy I expect to step up is Nathaniel Hill,” said Dallo. “He’s making the transition from a post player to a wing. I’m interested to see how his game will transform because we’ve been training all summer.”
In addition to Hill, the Hurricane will return guards Larry Rivers, Ralph Williams and forward Marcus Feagin from last year’s team.
“I’m excited about all of our players,” said Rosario. “We have a good group that’s going to compete at a high level.”
The Hurricane will play all six of their home games this season at Brocton High School, but will spend most of their time on the road in order to gain more exposure for the players. They will travel as far as Michigan to play games during this season.
“We want to get the guys out and traveling more,” said Rosario. “When were at home we’d love to have all the fans come out and support us.”
The Hurricane will start their season with a Kids Day this Friday with doors opening at 6 p.m. at Brocton High School.