FRONTENAC — The Frontenac Raiders will sport a new look on the court in the upcoming 2016-17 basketball season, and will be ran by a new face on the bench, as Ryan Varsolona takes over for the departed long-time coach Doug Barto.
Gone from last year’s squad is a group of seven seniors including three starters. Returning, however, is a roster laden with experience and athleticism.
Seniors Eian Monsour, Ryan Long, Austin Gorham, Luke Loy and Isaac Bicknell will have to take over the leadership role, and guide this team to their goal of competing for a league title in the wide-open CNC.
All of the returning seniors have starting experience and have played tough minutes at the end of close games, so this is a battle-tested group ready for the challenge.
But, Coach Varsolona knows not one player can lead this group alone.
“We won’t look to one guy to lead this team,” Varsolona said. “I think probably it will be a different guy every night. This group plays well as a team, and everyone is really unselfish with the basketball. It is going to be a group of 12 guys playing as one.”
Coach Varsolona has high expectations for this group and this year, but he is focusing on the basics in order to build his team for the upcoming year.
“We want to get one percent better every day this season,” Coach Varsolona said. “We will have to be prepared to work hard every day, and we will have to play hard.”
This type of mentality, he hopes, will pay off in the long run, deep in league play. Being mentally and physically strong will give the Raiders a competitive advantage in February, if not sooner.
“I feel we will be in a lot of our ball games due to our mental toughness and our ability to want to be better every day,” Coach Varsolona said. “You can see it in practices. They are competing hard against each other, hard fouls, battling for balls, but at the end of the day, they know they are one team, one heartbeat. We will compete all year long as hard as we can.”
Part of that mental toughness will be a carryover for the players who played football this year, something Varsolona got a first-hand look at during the season.
“They [the kids who played football] are a great group of guys,” Varsolona said. “They love to compete; they love being around each other. After a couple of days off after the season, they were chomping at the bit to get back and compete.”
Frontenac will look to returning junior starter Broc Ginavan to lead the Raiders down low as the 6-foot-4-inch forward did last year.
Helping out at the guard spots will be key underclassmen Jake Wilbert and Peyton Brown, both juniors, who will help set the tempo Coach Varsolona will be looking for this year.
“We are going to play hard and be aggressive on both ends of the court this year,” Varsolona said. “We will want to push the ball and set the tempo of the game.”
The Frontenac Raiders start their season Friday night at home with a matchup against rival St. Mary’s Colgan.