Tonawanda News —
Last year's season ended abruptly for the Kenmore West boys basketball team.
After clinching a share of the regular season NFL title, the Blue Devils were stunned by Williamsville North and its budding superstar Sterling Taplin before ever getting a chance to play under the bright lights at Buffalo State.
At first glance — the Blue Devils lost four starters and seven of their top 10 contributors from last season's squad — a fall off from last season's 13-win NFL regular season may seem in the cards, but there's one person who may be able to keep the Blue Devils from taking a step back: Quinton Campbell.
"When he's on the floor people need to game plan for him," said Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze. "He is an imposing force and he's still only learning how to play the post position. When he asserts his will, you don't find too many people that are as imposing as him."
Meetze said that having Campbell is a nice thing because when his team needs a bucket it can always just throw it inside to the 6-foot-7 senior. When he attracts a double team in the post others are bound to be open.
The Blue Devils have dropped two tough games to Monsignor Martin teams St. Joe's and Bishop-Timon, and Meetze said that he thinks his team can get the ball inside to Campbell even more. He said doing work inside opens everything up on the perimeter, and Campbell should be able to post a double-double every game.
After Campbell, Ken West forward Shay Cuadra is starting to blossom into a supporting role for the Blue Devils. In his team's first two games the junior has posted 17 points per contest and Meetze expects him to continue to develop as the season progresses.
"He's the guy we really expect to step up this year," Meetze said. "A lot of people don't know who he is but I think by the end of the season people are going to know his name. He's probably our most athletic kid, pound for pound. He can shoot outside, he can drive to the hoop and he's probably one of our fastest kids with the best jumper. He's also in charge of guarding the other team's best player."
Adam From plays the other forward position and Meetze said he is strong defensively and as a weak-side rebounder.
Meetze starts a pair of point guards in his backcourt in Alex Price and Joe Northrup, but he said the two compliment each other nicely.
"I'm really lucky to have two kids that could play point guard," he said. "Joe is usually our chief ball-handler. He plays great on-the-ball defense and he doesn't turn the ball over very much. … Alex is like Joe, pretty good ball-handler but more of a score-first point guard. I don't see too many teams with two starting point guards in the starting lineup. We haven't really been rattled from teams' pressure and I don't expect us to be."
The Blue Devils will go about 12 deep this season, according to Meetze. The team has a lot of size off the bench in Greg Howell and Josh Sanders. Tyler Grandits and Noah Whalen will earn some minutes at forward and Meetze said that Whalen may be the smartest kid on the team.
Terrell Ford and LaQuan Salter — 1/2 of Ken West's starting secondary on the gridiron — will be the first options off the bench at the guard spots. Ford is a freshman with a ton of potential who Meetze is hoping can use this season as a learning tool before he is inserted as a starter his last three seasons. Salter is a defensive specialist who runs hard every minute he's on the floor.
"I'm really interested to see how these kids (coming off the bench) play now that we start our league," Meetze said. "I'd really like to get our bench going more. It will be interesting to see how they step up. We're going to need them this season."
The Blue Devils begin league play at 6:30 p.m. tonight when they host Grand Island at home.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 683-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.