Showcasing his talent

Soon-to-be Fredonia senior John Piper will get a chance this weekend to display his talents on the hardcourt, as he will be a member of the Buffalo team at the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Summer Hoops Festival, which is being held in Johnson City.

“Basically, coaches have the option of joining the association,” Fredonia boys’ varsity basketball coach Greg Lauer said. “And I’m a member, so any player had the opportunity to try out if your coach is a member of the organization. So, he went to a two-day tryout up in Lancaster, I believe, and he made (the team).”

The team is made up of players from Section 6 and will compete against other all-star teams representing the other nine sections in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, as well as private schools.

“He knew like a day after the tryout that he made it,” Lauer said of Piper. “He’s pretty excited and they want him to play point guard. And that’s where he’s looking to play for us next year. He had really good tryouts, he said. He was hitting shots and doing different things, so yeah, he’s pretty excited to make this showcase team.”

Joining Piper on the Buffalo team are Zak Cziekl (Cheektowaga, senior), Collin Gemerek (Depew, senior), T.C. Brown (Amherst, junior), Justin Jones (Canisius, junior), Grant Beyer (St. Joe’s, junior), Bryce Morrison (Randolph, senior), Kordell Holness-Lightbody (St. Francis, senior), Zack Panebianco (Jamestown, senior) and Cort Williams (Williamsville East, senior).

“John’s had an excellent summer so far in our summer leagues,” Lauer said. “And hopefully that carries over into this tournament for him this weekend.”

Coaching the Buffalo team will be Depew boys’ varsity head coach Larry Jones, and Lauer knows Piper will be in good hands.

“I know Larry really well,” Lauer said. “He was the coach at Depew when I played at Clarence and then when I started coaching at Fredonia, I met him again through (former Fredonia boys’ varsity coach) Dave Polechetti. And I’ve got to know him really well since we’ve gotten to go to Buffalo State. He’s a really good guy, a really good coach and he’s really down to earth.

“Larry knows how to get the most out of these guys and he’ll push John to where he wants him,” Lauer continued. “Larry will do a real excellent job and it will be real easy on John.”

Lauer has used Piper mainly as a shooting guard at Fredonia, so he is looking forward to his senior leader getting the chance to work on running the point against elite competition.

“I really want him to be our point guard this year and kind of take over,” Lauer said. “And I think that’s what he’s going to be doing with this team. And to play at an elite level, against elite defenders and play point guard this weekend, will certainly extend into November and get him used to playing that type of competition at that position. He hasn’t really played point guard since his freshman year on varsity, so it will be good for him to transition into this season.”

The games this weekend will be played in the gyms of the Johnson City High School, Middle School and Elementary School and will begin today at 4 p.m., when the Buffalo team takes on a team representing the Adirondack region, which is made up of players from Sections 2 and 7.

“I’m sure his dad will let me know on how the games go,” Lauer said. “And I’ll be in contact with John.”

Pool-play games will continue through Saturday, with single-elimination games beginning Sunday at 8:45 a.m. Aside from playing the Adirondack team, Piper and his teammates will get to go up against Mid-Hudson (Section 9) at 8:30 p.m., on Friday; Suffolk (Section 11) at noon, on Saturday; and Southern Tier (Section 4) at 4 p.m., on Saturday.

“(Former Fredonia player) Dylan (Meyer) made the team last year and played for Larry,” Lauer said. “And Dylan said it was a great experience playing with all those elite guys. It’ll be great for John to get this experience and play at this level, because the competition is extremely good when they get to play these other sections.”