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Published: December 19, 2009 10:38 pm

HS HOOPS: Banker takes training to new level

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Sure, Kallie Banker was the Niagara Gazette Player of the Year as a freshman. But with the goal of one day playing Division I basketball firmly in her mind, there was no time for the Grand Island guard to bask in the glory.

So, like any great athlete, she went back to work. And not just on her hardwood game. But rather on her speed, strength and agility — areas in which she and her family identified as weaknesses.

To get the best results, Banker enlisted the help of Tony Surace, Director of Sports Medicine and Athletic Training at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. The tandem worked together for about two months with each of Banker’s test numbers showing great improvement by the end of the program.

“I was amazed at how much she improved,” said Surace, who is the mastermind behind the Competitive Edge Sports Performance program. “She’s a really hard worker. Every time she left she was drenched. I think she’s got a head up on other players.”

According to Kallie’s mother, veteran GI coach Jenepher Banker, she began to see the training pay off during the summer AAU circuit and even more into the early portion of the high school season.

The elder Banker noted that her daughter’s now stronger with the ball in her hands and is rebounding much better this winter due to an increased vertical. Despite playing the point for the Vikings, Banker is now often one of the team’s top rebounders.

For my money, Banker is already one of the area’s most complete players despite only being a sophomore. Add in an outstanding work ethic and you’ve got the makings of a great college prospect.

Personally, I would love to see her end up at a school like Canisius under one of my favorite coaches, Terry Zeh. By the way, Jenepher Banker was an assistant at Canisius before coming to GI.

News and notes

I have to give the Niagara Falls boys program some credit for finally bringing aboard a reliable and knowledgeable scorekeeper in former LaSalle High School assistant and Niagara County Community College head coach Frank Rotundo. The likable Rotundo is a welcome addition in this reporter’s eyes… Since we’re in the giving mood, I’d like to extend many thanks to both Sal Constantino and Dan Gill for their hospitality over the past week or so. Constantino did another great job with the Cataract Classic and Gill, the St. Mary’s AD, was more than accommodating at the ECIC-MMAA Challenge… On a more serious note, Kenmore West sharpshooter Ashley Krier was noticeably missing on the court and in the scorebook during the Blue Devils’ loss to Lew-Port Friday. If that is a permanent loss, which sources say is the case, that all but removes West from contention.