Trumansburg Blue Raiders buying into process

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Trumansburg boys basketball has been competitive early in the season despite the 1-3 start. After a 12-point loss to start the season against Spencer-Van Etten, its last three games have been decided by single digits. Its most recent game was the closest, losing 54-53 to Lansing on Dec. 20 as the Blue Raiders missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Competitive spirit is exactly what head coach Paul Pennock is looking for from this team. They’re looking to rebound from a season where they missed the Section IV playoffs and three IAC All-Stars graduated. Trumansburg is looking to do so with only four seniors on the official roster.

“We’re down to three seniors now,” Pennock said. “One of our guys, Joey Lupo, is out for an extended period of time. Even then, out of our three seniors, only one of them, Dre Capers, has had any real varsity experience. We’re even younger than what appears on paper.”

Despite the lack of age and size on the team, Pennock is happy with what he’s seen from his squad in its first four games.

“I’ve been real encouraged,” Pennock said. “These guys are working hard. They definitely understand, especially the seniors, that sense of urgency. This is their last crack at it. They’re bought in and they’re doing what they need to do to get us over the hump for sure.”

The schedule put Trumansburg to the test right away with games against Section IV finalist Lansing and quarterfinalist Spencer-Van Etten.

“Being early in the season and still trying to find our team’s identity, we weren’t really sure [what it was],” Pennock said. “To be able to go out there against some good competition and see that we can compete and that we’ve got the parts in place to be successful is really encouraging.”

The team is sold on Pennock’s plan for success, and the head coach knows this season will be one of growth. He’s been seeing that growth daily from his team.

“We’re still learning,” Pennock said. “Every day in practice, we’re learning more and more. Every film session, we’re able to pick apart an awful lot of good information. These guys have bought into the process, and they’re definitely working on getting us there.”

Perhaps the most promising part of this Blue Raiders squad is that seven of the players will return as seniors next season. Being able to watch these players grow has been an enjoyable experience for Pennock.

“It’s been great,” Pennock said. “This group of guys, one sophomore in Lucas Taves and then our group of juniors, are guys that we’ve been working with for some years coming up through the program. They come to work every day. They know what we need to do to get better. They genuinely love playing the game.”

On the court, Pennock has seen several positives that will make for a good foundation to build upon with his inexperienced roster.

“We’re certainly not that big,” Pennock said. “And being young, we have something in our back pocket. We’re pretty scrappy. We play really hard and we can get up and down the court in transition. We’ll go for entire quarters and every one of our field goals is assisted. These guys love sharing the ball. They have fun playing. It’s apparent out there. When things get moving, it’s a lot of fun for them.”

This season is certainly not a lost one, as the Blue Raiders have shown an ability to stick around in games. Some of the close losses they’ve experienced so far can easily turn into wins down the road. For example, Trumansburg missed over 10 free throws in the one-point loss to Lansing, which is a difference-maker that can be fixed over time.

“I’d like to think we’re growing right now,” Pennock said. “Our JV program has been pretty successful. Rob Reakes, our coach on that team, is really good. Our modified program has been really successful. I feel like we’re on the move right now as a program. I’m hoping we can generate enough excitement and enthusiasm, not just in the school but in the community at large, to start filling up that gym of ours again.”

The Trumansburg faithful will have to wait a few days for a chance to fill up the gym again. The Blue Raiders return from holiday break on Friday, Jan. 3, going on the road against a struggling Odessa-Montour team. Then, the 6-1 Waverly Wolverines will visit Trumansburg on Jan. 7.

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