Buccaneers launch official feeder program for youth basketball players

The Oswego boys varsity basketball team plays defense against Syracuse-ITC during a game on Dec. 29. Provided photo.

OSWEGO — James LaMacchia senses a wave of positive momentum in the Oswego High School boys basketball program that the head varsity coach is positioning to sustain for future generations.

The Buccaneers are launching an official feeder program for youth players in the district that will be guided by LaMacchia, other coaches, and veteran players on the varsity team.

The program is expected to begin this month and designed to help build fundamentals for players entering the Oswego modified teams.

LaMacchia believes it is the first youth circuit directly connected to the scholastic squad in nearly 30 years since former coach Bill Farden organized teams from players in Oswego elementary schools from grades 4-6 to compete against each other and develop basic skills. He is aiming to begin a similar operation.

“I’m really excited and I like the fact that we get to help with those players, because it gets the kids motivated to want to come out and play basketball and realize what we do in a practice,” Oswego senior forward Zachary Chamberlain said. “I think it’s going to be really good for kids that want to play basketball some day at the varsity level.”

LaMacchia has long desired a direct line between the young players discovering the game and his varsity unit, and said he believes now is the time to strike due to the combined quality of character and talent atop his program.

Oswego entered the new year with a 2-2 overall record and is coming off a 7-2 campaign last year, which marked its highest win total in six seasons despite the condensed schedule due to COVID-19 concerns.

Enthusiasm appears to be coinciding with that success as LaMacchia cited record numbers with more than 70 players at the modified level, and nearly 30 trying out for both the varsity and junior varsity teams.

“I needed something connected to our younger players and this is the best and most coachable group I’ve had right here in quite a while to launch it, so I thought this was the perfect year,” LaMacchia said.

Plans call for the new youth teams to meet for an hour each Saturday with the location to be determined, with half the time dedicated to skill development and the other consisting of scrimmages in a 3-on-3 format utilizing multiple baskets and limiting downtime for all players.

The Oswego coaches and players will guide the teams and oversee the sessions that are meant to give young players a basic introduction to the sport and a foundation for future skills. There won’t be any zones, presses, or play concepts involved as LaMacchia said he wants kids to learn how to play freely and “figure it out in open space.”

“I think it’s great to get these kids involved with us and our team and coming to our games, I think that’s such a big thing for our team and whole organization and community,” senior guard Nathan Devinny said.

The Oswego varsity leaders set the tone for the program over the past offseason with an active regimen aiming to keep their upward trajectory from a season ago.

The Buccaneers competed in a spring league with other Section 3 teams, two summer leagues, and held 45 open gym sessions during the summer months, on top of a slew of solo workout routines by returners.

“The offseason was definitely busy, but that’s what we all asked for,” Devinny said. “We wanted to put the work in and do the best we could this season. I think it’s done great things for our program.”

Oswego closed last season with five straight victories and posted the second highest winning percentage of all Salt City Athletic Conference Empire Division teams.

The Buccaneers last made the Section 3 Class A playoffs in 2017 and are working toward emphatically ending that drought.

“I think we all have very high expectations for this year based off what we did last season,” senior guard Lucas Warner said. “We’ve been struggling but last year we saw so much improvement from the beginning to the end of the season, and I think we’re going to see that this year as well.”

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