By Rob Tetro
The Fulton boys’ varsity basketball team this season wants to focus on one game at a time.
And by doing so, it hopes to win eight games.
Fulton coach Matt Kimpland says the Red Raiders can reassess their goals if they earn those eight wins.
But, Kimpland mentions his team has goals for activities off the court as well. Fulton is striving to be a team that has every player earning at least a 3.5 GPA (grade point average) while missing very little school at the same time.
This season, the Red Raiders will feature five starters with limited playing time at the varsity level.
Kimpland considers sophomore Cody Green the only returning starter from last season’s team and he was able to play only half of the season.
Mark Pollock, Seth Britton and Austin Haskins also return from last year’s team.
All 11 players showed tremendous involvement in the summer tournaments in which Fulton participated.
They played against teams from Oswego, Red Creek, North Rose-Wolcott and Phoenix to name a few. The team played in 25-30 games from June through August.
The Red Raiders came away with the St. Bonaventure Team Tournament Championship, but lost to Jamesville-DeWitt by 15 points in the semifinals of another tournament.
Fulton began in-season practice Nov. 11. An open gym was held during the two weeks leading up to the start of practice. The Red Raiders used those open gym sessions to develop the conditioning needed for basketball participation.
Despite having many players who were physically able to take part in fall sports such as football and soccer, the team struggled during the first few days of practice to make the adjustment to the conditioning needed for basketball.
Currently, Kimpland feels that the conditioning of his team is about 85 percent to 90 percent of what it needs to be. The Red Raiders begin the season following Thanksgiving and were expected to have met Kimpland’s conditioning goals by that time.
Fulton has not yet named captains for the upcoming season. Kimpland points out the individuals he selects for the job will display strong leadership abilities and be able to encourage teammates to step up during moments of adversity.
While assessing the schedule for the upcoming season, Kimpland suggests the Red Raiders will be challenged early and often. Fulton will participate in a Watertown tournament followed by games against Central Square, Camden, Jamesville-DeWitt, Bishop Ludden and Christian Brothers Academy.
Kimpland feels this will allow his team to become battle tested rather quickly. He said the tough early schedule his team faces will allow them to be a tougher team during the second half of the season.
Kimpland said his team is excited to take on some of the best teams Section 3 offers. He suggests this team could be one of the most skilled teams Fulton has had in a long time. Many of the players consider basketball their favorite sport to play and have the skills to show for it.
The Red Raiders will be a team with a great desire to compete and succeed. Fulton will also be a team that plays with poise and intensity regardless of the circumstances they may face this season.
The team also will have offensive versatility. Shooters like Cody Green and Brian Hudson will help Fulton stretch the floor, while big men like Chris Jones and Seth Britton will be able to keep opposing defenses honest with their presence down low.