Geneseo G Town basketball plays in Iowa

by Claudia Loucks correspondent
Kade Ariano, left; Kyle Traphagan and P.J. Moser are the three seniors on the G-Town Basketball Team, which is competing in the United Hoops League at the TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf, Iowa, with games scheduled on Friday nights

When Mike and Jenny Traphagan received an email from Geneseo Boys Basketball Coach Brad Storm regarding a basketball league that the Geneseo team could be part of, they decided to “make this happen.”

Their son, Kyle Traphagan, is a senior at GHS and a star player with the Geneseo Maple Leafs basketball team.

“Coach Storm sent an email out to the players and their parents on January 3, telling us about the opportunity for the players to be part of the United Hoops League, with games at the TBK Complex in Bettendorf,” Jenny Traphagan said. “Mike and I, along with Kyle, decided since Kyle is a senior and this possibly would be his only opportunity to play, we would make this happen.”

“We had to have a team registered by Jan. 8, with games starting Jan. 15,”she said.

Kyle Traphagan sent a group text to all players on the Geneseo team and 12 responded.

The players cannot wear their school gear to compete so Jenny Traphagan stepped up and ordered jerseys and applied the numbers on the jerseys.

“Mike is the head coach and I am the assistant coach,” she said, explaining that the school can have nothing to do with the league.

Amy Ariano, mom to senior player Kade Ariano, is the scorekeeper, as each league must provide a parent to run scores at every game.

The effort has been well worth it to Mike and Jenny Traphagan…”Just to get to see the kids on the court is awesome,” Mike Traphagan said. “You can see how playing together really lifts their spirits. We are just excited to have a season, seeing the boys back out there playing, and being able to watch the boys compete with all these other teams.”

The league the Geneseo players are competing in is the United Hoops League, a 10-week league that began with games on Jan. 15. All games are held at the TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf and each team in the league competes in two games every Friday. Spectators are welcome and admission is $10 per person.

The team also had to come up with their own name as they are not permitted to use the school name. They are known as G-Town in the United Hoops League.

In their opening games on Jan. 15, the G-Town players defeated DeKalb, 40-33; and lost by one point against Quincy, 34-33.

On Jan. 22, G-Town will face off at 8 p.m. and again at 9:45 p.m.

MEET THE THREE SENIORS ON THE G-TOWN TEAM: Kyle Traphagan, Kade Ariano and P.J. Moser.

KYLE TRAPHAGAN

-Kyle Traphagan, son of Jenny and Mike Traphagan, steps in to both guard and forward positions with the GHS team and the G-Town squad, expressed his appreciation to the United Hoops League and the TBK “for putting together a league for all the Illinois teams to compete in, because without them we would have no basketball season at all the way things are looking.”

“The league is very competitive,” he said. “We are playing a lot of the same teams we would be playing in the WB6 and other teams from Illinois.”

“Unfortunately, we are not able to practice as a team in a school setting, so we try to stay in shape and practice on our own,” he said.

When asked about not being able to compete in his home gym at GHS, Traphagan said, “Nothing compares to playing in your own gym with our great fans and student section, but just being able to complete and have something of a season feels great.”

The Geneseo team’s season was cut short after winning the Regional in 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic, and Traphagan said, “The season had just ended for us so I was looking forward to getting ready for next season. We expected to have a good team this year even with losing key seniors.”

The talented athlete loves the game of basketball, a sport he began playing in fifth grade and said what he finds most rewarding about playing the game is “being around the guys and being a part of a team, the competitiveness, and when we won the Regional Championship last year and went on to Sectionals.”

“Finding out that the chances of having a school season are slim has been hard on all of us, especially the seniors, but having this league with the help of Coach Storm ad the senior parents gives us a chance to get out and play,” he said, and added that he plans to continue playing at the college level.

Like many of the GHS students, Traphagan misses being in school as well as all of the school functions and said, “We are missing this year but I know remote learning is something we need to do.”

KADE ARIANO

-Kade Ariano, son of Amy and Neil Ariano, is center on the Geneseo Maple Leafs Basketball Team as well as on the G-Town Team, and is happy to be able to play with his teammates at the TBK Sports Complex in Bettendorf.

“I was very happy to hear that we were going to play in the United Hoops League,” Ariano said. “It is very nice that they are allowing us to play and giving us the opportunity to compete again.”

When Covid-19 surfaced in March of 2019, Ariano said he didn’t think much about it…”I didn’t think that it would ever impact us and our senior year and taking our basketball season. It initially stinks; however, leagues like the one we are in are doing all that they can do to allow us to play. It’s not the same as playing at home in front of the fans. But it is competitive basketball.”

“We definitely miss having the students and fans in attendance creating a great environment to play in,” he said. “However, there is definitely a lot of satisfaction in being able to play. Having structured competition couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The talented basketball player said it is hard for him about other schools in other states playing sports, “so finally getting the opportunity to play at a competitive level has been very beneficial to me.”

In-person practices are not currently being held, but Ariano said, “Coach (Brad) Storm does a very good job at scheduling Zoom meetings to discuss what he wants us to work on and our offense. Besides that, we haven’t been able to practice.”

“The Community Center has been a place where I have been able to continue to work on my game,” he said.

Basketball has been part of Ariano’s life since he was quite young and he began to play competitively when he was in fourth grade.

“The most rewarding part about basketball for me is seeing all of the hard work play off,” he said. “I really enjoy working hard all week for a game and hen coming out on top. In addition, it’s very rewarding to create a close bond with the guys.”

P.J. MOSER

-P.J. Moser, son of Tamara and Pete Moser, a forward on the basketball court, is enjoying being able to compete with his Geneseo High School teammates in the United Hoops League.

“It’s very much fun to be competing against other teams again,” Moser said. “The last time we played other teams in high school sports was in basketball in the 2019 Sectional game.”

He believes being in the United Hoops League is a good opportunity for the players “to get better at the game, and have fun with our teammates. The competition is very good in the league and a lot of the teams in the league are teams we have already played against.”

“I thought during the pandemic that it would be a shame if we didn’t have a season this year,” he said. “I know we lost a very big piece in Isaiah (Rivera, now on the basketball team at Colorado State) last year, but we still have a lot of good talent coming back, and the younger players coming up from the fresh-soph level last year.”

Because the teammates cannot practice together at school, Moser said getting individual workouts in “is really up to each guy, in your driveway or the Community Center are good resources to have.”

He started playing basketball when he was about seven years old and said teamwork and chemistry is something he has learned from basketball…”I try to carry that over into other sports,” he said.

In regard to his senior year, Moser said, “This definitely wasn’t the senior year anyone was expecting, but the teachers and coaches are helping us through it with school and sports.”

G-TOWN ROSTER:

-Seniors – Kyle Traphagan, P.J. Moser and Kade Ariano.

-Juniors – Anthony Pierce, Nathan VanDeWoestyne, Chase Marshall, Andrew Cotty, Brock Seei and Jordan Haser.

-Sophomores – Bristol Lewis, Will Taylor and Karson Emry.