Tonawanda News — It's been a very happy new year for the Cardinal O'Hara boys basketball team after a 7-3 start to the season, already more than doubling its win total from a season ago.
The big man in the middle — 6-foot-6 sophomore center Jovel Littlejohn — has had a lot to do with the turnaround, but the energizer for the Hawks is senior guard Zack Glowacki, who's started for O'Hara since his freshman year.
Glowacki has endured through tough times at O'Hara. The Hawks won only three games last season but have been thirsting to compete in the Monsignor Martin Association.
"Zack has more energy than any player I've ever had on my team," said O'Hara coach Dave Pfohman. "He's a great kid, a tremendous captain and a great leader. There's not much more I can ask from him. He's always in the gym working on his shot."
Glowacki, a North Tonawanda resident, is the only senior on the Hawks' roster and is settling into his new leader role for O'Hara. He was named a co-captain last season but deferred to senior Darryl Herring when it came to being vocal in the huddle and on the court.
He's also had to be more assertive this season on the offensive end of the floor. When he was inserted into the starting lineup as a freshman his job was to run the offense and limit mistakes, now he's averaging 15.4 points a game and doing it with his trademark jump shot and his ability to penetrate to the basket.
"As a freshman my job was to run the offense and that's all I thought about. I didn't think about scoring, I just thought about running the offense and not to turn the ball over. Because if I turned it over I'd be gong to the bench," Glowacki said. "As sophomore and junior year progressed I worked more on my shot and my ball handling. I love to help my team with points, but I want to do whatever I can do to help the team win."
Pfoman said Glowacki has improved his game every season, and it's a product of his hard work and passion for the game.
"His jump shot has been smooth throughout, but he's matured to where he can use it within the context of our offense," Phohman said. "He knows when he should be shooting, when he should be passing and when he should be dribble driving. He's never been a slasher, up until this year he's never had it where our offense opens up to let him slash and finish. But his game has transitioned in every direction."
Glowacki has also grown as a person. The senior cares deeply about his teammates and his community, Pfohman said. He's the first one to go to a coach if one of the other players has a problem to try and help to find a solution.
On the weekends Glowacki volunteers at the North Tonawanda Recreation Center to help teach kids the game of basketball.
"Sometimes he comes into practice late because he's working with the kids at the community center. That's nice and it shows how much he loves the game," Pfohman said. "I was so tough on him because my thing is discipline determines destiny. When he was a freshman he did more things when he was late — he was always running. Now he asks me if I'm getting soft on him, but he's come so far."
As far as the team goes, Pfohman says the Hawks are improving every day and still don't know how good they can be, which is a good thing.
Glowacki said the difference for O'Hara this season has been its aggressiveness and desire to compete. The road he's traveled to get to this moment has helped shape him, and the Hawks are reaping the benefits.
"I've learned to take losses and mature from each game," Glowacki said. "When the team wins I'm humble. I don't say we're the best team ever, because we're not. When we lose we learn from it and when we win we're humble. That's what I've been taught — from my family and coaches."Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.