Hurricane looks forward to next NABL season

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Chautauqua Hurricane point guard Ralph Williams, right, looks to drive into the lane during a game against the DuBois Dream earlier this year, at Brocton High School, the Hurricane’s home gym. After back-to-back appearances in the NABL title game, the Hurricane hopes next season will finally bring the championship home to Chautauqua County.

The Chautauqua Hurricane’s season came to an end on June 29, after falling to the Lancaster Thunder, 116-110. The Hurricane, who finished the season with a 5-5 record, got off to a slow start to the season, but were able to pull it together at the end to make a run toward the championship game in Kentucky.

While the Hurricane fell short of its season goals of a championship, there were still a lot of things to ge proud of in the season. Guard David Blanks, in his first season back with the team, ended up nominated for the NABL MVP award. Blanks and Chautauqua teammate Ralph Williams will be heading to Las Vegas later this summer for a basketball combine.

In addition to his MVP nomination and the camp in Las Vegas, Blanks will also be participating in the three-point contest at half time of the NABL Championship game, adding yet another accolade on top of his already impressive season, and maybe more importantly, another opportunity to showcase his talent on a big stage.

Hurricane owner Sixto Rosario was very proud of his team’s performance, but still knows there are still a few steps to take to improve next season.

“We probably still need to go get another shooter. We can always add another shooter to our arsenal,” said Rosario.

Rosario admires the way his team played with passion, and the pride they felt for their team and each other, noting their excitement, despite the loss. Rosario also said he thought his team was “the best at everything” during the season. Rosario especially acknowledges the heart his team showed pulling it together from that rough start to the season.

“It really looked like a terrible start, but they pulled it together to make a run. This will be a tough follow-through trying to get better,” Rosario said.

While the Hurricane ended the season on a bit of a sour note, there are still several positives to take away from their play. It was a regular season that started off about as bad as a season can start, but thanks to the talent level of players like Williams, Blanks, and Daniel Mulamba, they were able to pull it together to make a playoff run. Their playoff run was sparked not by their stars, but by their team depth, with guys like Alex Crossan playing a large part in their playoff victory over the DuBois Dream.

Rosario said that the typical off-season is really spent relaxing, while noting that the guys who live locally will continue to work out and practice with each other, still honing their craft while the games aren’t being played. Tryouts for the team start in October, which is when the preseason begins to kick in and the mindset shifts from casual workouts to higher intensity practices. For a lot of the guys, though, Rosario says the down time is to “relax and enjoy the summer.”

The Hurricane looks to count on the team building on its success from this past season and running it back next year to try to finally claim the elusive NABL Championship.