Western Wayne's boys varsity basketball team finds itself facing a whole new set of challenges this winter. Under the direction of second year skipper Kenny Hemmler, the Wildcats will compete in Division III of the Lackawanna League against such schools as Elk Lake, Mountain View, Forest City and Lackawanna Trail.

Western Wayne boys basketball Coach Kenny Hemmler stood before his play-ers and looked each one of them squarely in the eye. The only sound in the gym was Hemmler’s voice as it echoed among the rafters and bounced off the bleachers.

“A man can be as great as he wants to be,” he said, quoting the late great Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi. “If you believe in yourself and have the courage...and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile...it can be done.”

Looking Ahead
This year’s edition of the Wildcat varsity hoops team will have to heed Vince Lombardi’s words in order to attain success in the rugged Lackawanna League. Western Wayne is dropping down to Division III this winter after struggling in Division II the past several seasons.

Coach Hemmler is entering his second full year at the helm in Varden...and, he’s doing so minus eight seniors lost to graduation. That’s probably not the best of news for a team coming off a 2-12 campaign. However, it does underscore one bright spot: the Wildcats will be young, enthusiastic and exciting.

“I’d really like for us to get out and run,” Coach Hemmler told TWI Sports. “We’ve been working very hard in practice, so we’re in great condition. If we can push the ball and play up-tempo, were going to do it.”

Thus far in pre-season action, Sean Sheridan has emerged as Western Wayne’s on-court leader. A junior who’s worked hard in the weight room, Sheridan will see extensive action in the low post.

Sean can play every position on the floor, with the possible exception of point guard. However, Coach Hemmler can even foresee situations in which Sean would be asked to handle the ball.

“Sean Sheridan is a great kid,” he said. “He’s by far the most dedicated player we have on this team...and, it’s been that way since he was a freshman. Sean’s gotten bigger and stronger, but he can dribble, too. He’s a complete player.”

Joey Siclari is another veteran to whom Coach Hemmler will look for leadership. A multi-sport star who just recently finished off a solid football season, Siclari brings an innate athleticism to the gym.

Siclari will start at the 2-guard spot and be expected to generate offense. Joey is quick enough to beat defenders off the dribble, but he also possesses a solid jumper.

Joey has been slowed a bit by an ankle injury he suffered midway through the grid campaign. However, he’s been rounding into shape quickly. Coach Hemmler believes that Siclari is the key to Western Wayne’s Division III season.

“When he gets back to 100%, Joey will be a big part of whatever success we have,” he said. “He’s a very good athlete and we’re expecting big things from him.”

Kevin Botjer will man the point for Western Wayne. Though still only a sophomore, it will be Botjer’s responsibility to negotiate enemy presses. Kevin’s main task is to get Sheridan and Siclari the ball in position to score.

“That’s kind of a tough load we’re asking him to carry,” said Coach Hemmler. “But, if Mitch Vitovsky did it, I think Kevin can, too.”

John Crowley should also play a major role on this year’s squad. Western Wayne’s lone senior, He'll be first off the bench and most likely see time at power forward.

“John is mentally tough and has a good attitude,” said Coach Hemmler. “I think he can really help us this season. He’s a hard worker and a good kid.”

Freshman guard Kevin Karabin and junior center Jake Kellogg could also figure prominently before the year is out.

On the Agenda
Western Wayne will open its 2008-‘09 Lackawanna League campaign Tuesday, December 9th at Blue Ridge. In addition, the Wildcats are slated to compete in several holiday events.

Coach Hemmler’s lads tip-off their tournament season at the Hawley Rotary Classic (Dec. 5-6). The ‘Cats will also participate in the Forest City Rotary (Dec. 23 & 26) and the Honesdale Area Jaycees (Dec. 27 & 29).

Western Wayne finished up  third at both Hawley and Hones-dale. In the former, Coach Hemmler earned his first varsity win with a 69-31 rout of St. Rose. In the latter, the ‘Cats defeated St. Mike’s in equally convincing fashion.

The Varden lads will compete against teams like Elk Lake, Mountain View, Blue Ridge, Forest City, Lackawanna Trail, Susquehanna and Montrose this winter.

“I’m really excited about the season,” said Coach Hemmler. “We have to be mentally tough and consistent. We need to play hard for four full quarters if we want to succeed in this new division.”