SHS Bulldogs have resilient senior leadership

By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Fri., Feb. 11, 2011
The Stafford High School boys’ basketball team has senior captains who led the team through a rough season. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.
The Stafford High School boys’ basketball team has senior captains who led the team through a rough season. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.

Discouraged; that is the only way to describe the players and coaches on the Stafford High Schoolboys’ basketball team. With a disappointing season record of 2-12 as of press time last week, it would be very simple to call the remaining games a wash and begin to focus on next year. But there are four outstanding reasons to celebrate the Bulldog spirit: Everett Palozej, Tony Bachiochi, Stephen Dusza and Kevin McNiff, the team’s senior captains.

Head coach Mike Morhardt credits the senior leadership for continually reinforcing an optimistic outlook in the Bulldog locker room. “While this season has been, by far, the most perplexing I have ever been a part of as a coach, the kids have been resilient and continued to work very hard to be successful,” he said.

Each senior brings a unique skill set to the team. Guard Everett Palozej, a four-year player, brings a calm demeanor and high basketball IQ to the court. “Everett is the most dangerous, well-rounded player in the group,” Morhardt said. “He has the ability to score from outside, as well as slashing to the basket.” Palozej achieved a season high of 15 points in a recent match against East Windsor.

Guard Tony Bachiochi keeps his team on point with a calm and calculated approach to the game. Scoring a season-high 15 points against Windsor Locks, Bachiochi’s even playing style is relied on by Morhardt. “Tony is an unassuming, purposeful player who has really come into his own this season. One of our most consistent players, his toughness and aggressiveness have been keys to us playing well,” the coach said.

In the forward position, Kevin McNiff reached a season-high 12 points against Hamdenin an early season game. Quick thinking and a long reach give McNiff the upper hand off the boards. “Kevin is a ferocious rebounder,” Morhardt said. “He is one of the hardest workers and most unselfish players I have ever had the opportunity to coach.”

Every team has an anchor, the one person the coach can rely on to bolster failing morale. For the Bulldogs, that is Stephen Dusza. “Stephen is a selfless leader who does anything that is asked of him on and off the floor,” Morhardt said. “He is the emotional spark for our team and brings endless energy and a zest for the program that is unparalleled.”

When asked what he believes his role on the team to be, Dusza humbly replies, “Whatever coach needs me to do. I’m the enforcer – I just do what needs to be done.”

With NCCC tournament placement still undecided, the Bulldogs continue to persevere and approach each game with renewed optimism. Morhardt credits his four senior captains and their positive attitudes. “They have all been extremely valuable assets to the program,” he said.


Coach’s Corner-

Stafford High School Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Mike Morhardt

Number of season with this team: 2

Thoughts on the season: “All the kids are working hard and battling, and I am confident that we will finish strong and still win enough games to qualify for the state and, hopefully, conference tournaments,” Morhardt said.

Upcoming schedule: Feb. 18 – Ellington – Away; Feb. 22 – Coventry– Away; Feb. 25 – East Granby– Home

Complete schedule on

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