Scrappy Hornets get a late start

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Kirtland Hornets Boys Basketball

Kirtland coach Nick Gallo is excited about his team’s potential during the 2017-2018 season but he won’t get a good look at the Hornets until next week thanks to the football team’s run at the Division VI state football championship for the sixth time in seven years.

All three of Kirtland’s returning starters are members of the football team, which means the Hornets have been practicing with a skeleton crew during the preseason.

Fortunately, Gallo is familiar with each of the players that will report to practice next week and knows what to expect out of his squad.

“This will be a very scrappy, tough-nosed team with skill at every position,” Gallo said. “The team will look to get better every day and know that the season is a marathon. Hopefully, we’ll be playing good basketball by late January.”

The Hornets finished a disappointing 11-12 last winter but with several returning starters and other key varsity players, Kirtland has the versatility and potential to compete for the conference title and more.

“The team can start 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 up front, but also will be able to play five guards,” Gallo said. “I will look to utilize these skills to create great shot selection and be difficult to guard.”

Seniors Brandon Samsa and Dylan Fulco and juniors Dominic Capretta and Jack Bailey are projected to fill four of the five starting spots in the lineup. The other has yet to be determined.

Samsa, a guard/forward, averaged 13.1 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists last season. Fulco, a forward, scored 5 points with 4 rebounds per contest.

“Brandon is primed for an outstanding season. He can guard 1-4 and has one of the best jump shots in the league,” Gallo said. “Dylan’s leadership qualities translate from the football field right to basketball. Dylan’s length and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions.”

Capretta, the team’s point guard, averaged 5.6 points, 2.5 assists and 3 rebounds per contest. Bailey, a forward, averaged 4 points and 4 rebounds per game last year.

“Dominic is a gamer,” Gallo said. “He will look to be more and more of a floor general this upcoming season. Jack will be a load in the interior. His ability to rebound and also to step out and hit outside shots allows him to a dynamic player.”

Success for the Hornets hinges on their ability to play a high level on any given night.

“The team needs to provide intensity and toughness on the defensive end of the floor to have a chance to win,” Gallo said.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.