Menard takes reigns of young Panthers team

By: Staff Reports
Berwick’s young basketball team is going back to the basics.

The Panthers have just one senior on the 2011-12 roster.

“We are very young,” first-year Berwick coach John Menard said. “Even our senior is in his first season with the team.”

Menard, known as one of the better baseball coaches in the area, stepped up when the school needed a faculty coach.

“The school asked for someone to help out and I decided to step up,” he said.

Menard, in his 13th year at the school, has coached basketball before leading the BHS girls’ team several years ago.

The lone BHS senior is Joe Francois.

“Joe has come along nicely and he is gonna help us out tremendously this year,” Menard said. “He gets in there (the post) and gets a lot of rebounds.”

The Panthers’ guards are Nick Canty, Palmer Cox and Nathan Baumgartner.

“They will be counted on to get the offense started,” Menard said. “We need them to be a general on the floor.”

Chaz Russo, Nick Osburn, Devin Tabor and Bryan Hernandez are all role players.

“They can go a lot of places on the floor,” the coach said. “I’m still learning the best position of some of our guys.”

Russo, Osburn, Tabor and Hernandez are all juniors so they will be counted on as leaders next season.

“They can have a big part in turning this program around if they work hard, get better and return next season,” Menard said.

Tabor has also emerged as a scorer for BHS.

“If he gets hot, it helps the team on the offensive end,” Menard said. “A young team needs a go to guy. He also has some good size.”

Berwick has three freshmen on the varsity squad.

Tre’ Matthews, Brandon Naverro and Daniel Gray are all seeing limited minutes.

“They mostly play jayvee but sometimes we need to put them in varsity games,” Menard said. “Tre is developing his shot and he will be a good guard for us in the future while Naverro and Gray are both big strong kids that will be a handful when they learn the game and how to use their size.”

Menard like most coaches pick Abbeville or Patterson to win District 9-3A.

“Abbeville went to the Top 28 last season and Patterson can go on any given year,” he said. “Franklin is always athletic so we don’t catch a break in the new district.”

While Berwick will not likely figure in the district race this season, Menard said he expects maximum effort.

“We may be young and inexperienced but we don’t lack effort and that’s a part of building for the future.”

Palmer Cox and Craig Brodie are Menard’s assistant coaches this season.

“Coach Cox was around last season and he has a ton of basketball experience,” Menard said. “We are going to follow the ground work he has started and Coach Craig is a young energetic guy who works well with our young guards.”

The Panthers will play in the Lumberjack Invite Thursday through Saturday.

BHS opens with a 4:30 p.m. match up today against St. Martinville. Central Catholic plays Teurlings at 6 p.m. while host Patterson faces Houma Christian at 7:30 p.m.

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