Westchester boys set sights high

Nov. 26, 2012 @ 09:14 PM

Last year was a season of change for the Westchester Country Day boys. Now, with coach Dagan Nelson in his second season, the Wildcats are once again setting their sights high.

Westchester returns six players from last year’s team that went 15-15 overall, won the NCISAA Triad Athletic Conference championship and reached the 2A state playoffs, where it lost to Caldwell Academy by one point.

After winning the state championship the previous year, that might have been a down year for a program and fans used to incredible success. But, with a new coach and countless new faces, it was a very important step in maintaining a successful program.

While losing Davis Tucker, who is now playing college basketball at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, to graduation was a sizable blow, the Wildcats do return a number of key elements that will help them build a solid foundation this season while also working in six newcomers.

Sadeeq Bello, a 5-foot-8 junior guard who is being recruited by Division I schools, led the team in assists and steals en route to an All-TAC selection last year. Josh Burton, a 6-2 combo guard also being recruited by Division II and III schools, averaged 19 points per game last year and was All-TAC as well.

Justice Cuthbertson, a 6-3 junior combo guard and Division I recruit, and Bruno Beca, a 6-9 post player and Division II and I recruit, will also fill key roles, with Cuthbertson providing strong leadership and Beca continuing to improve. Furthermore, David Ayodele, a 6-5 sophomore, will add an inside presence as he develops.

“It’s too early to tell (what our team does best), but I like our team chemistry,” Nelson said. “We have a nice blend of upperclassmen and newcomers. ... We have had two early-season injuries thus far. Injuries and youth are the biggest challenges facing our team.”

So, while they continue to work hard and improve as a team, the Wildcats remain focused on competing against the best teams, winning championships and continuing to grow their program under Nelson, who previously coached at the State University of New York at New Paltz before taking over for longtime coach Pat Kahny last season.

“Our only expectation is to get better every practice and game,” Nelson said. “We will keep our focus on consistent improvement. We are very excited to see where that consistent improvement will take us.”