By Sophia Ricco
The Cold Spring Harbor boys varsity basketball team has dominated so far this season, holding a strong defense and picking up points through a united front.
The Seahawks have a record of 17-2 this season and will face off against Oyster Bay in the Nassau Class B semi-finals this Sunday night at Farmingdale State College.
Head coach Jason Mercurio feels his team is “battle-tested” after coming out victorious against challenging teams.
“We just have to prepare now,” Mercurio said. “We know each other really well, so we’re just getting our kids ready to put their best foot forward for that game.”
The team started off the season playing against tough non-league teams to prepare for a fiercely competitive league. Although there is no league championship game, Cold Spring ranked second in their league after Malverne. The Seahawks finished their season strong with a big win against Malverne in their last game, handing the Mustangs their only loss of the season.
“It was a really great win that gives us momentum going into the playoffs,” Mercurio said. “Our kids are really excited about this Sunday.”
Mercurio attributes his team’s prosperity to the positive attitude his captains and players have during practice. In previous years, the team’s “Achilles’ heel” was stopping the opposing team’s offense from scoring. Many of the team’s seniors witnessed the issue first hand, and they made it a priority to improve.
“Our team has made a commitment to playing better defense, which has been a goal since the first day of practice,” Mercurio said.
This year, the Seahawks were ranked one of the strongest defensive teams in the county. Mercurio credits captain Jack Vavassis for leading the improvement and considers him to be the “anchor” of the team. As a guard, he demonstrates his “incredible” skill by defending opposing team’s best players and securing many rebounds.
“He’s been the catalyst to get everyone on the team to buy into playing better defense,” Mercurio said. “Without him, we would’ve never been able to do the things we’ve done this year.”
Fellow captains Nicholas Suter, a three year veteran of the squad, Aidan Adomities, a three year starter, and Thomas Milana a two year veteran, use their experince to lead the team. They’ve each seen many playoff battles, and know what it takes to keep the team calm during stressful situations.
“We’ve proven ourselves over the past four months, that we could play with anyone and beat them,” Mercurio said. “I’m happy we finished 17-2, but I feel there’s more we can still do and I’m happy our team keeps improving and getting better.”
Sophomores Kip Dallaris and Luca Sanna have stood out as strong players at a young age and earned themselves solid gametime. Although ten of the team’s players are seniors, Mercurio feels his team will remain powerful in coming years with young talent.
In his six years coaching at Cold Spring Harbor, Mercurio has an overall record of 82-37. He’s built the team from the ground up , and since then has made vast improvements. He said he feels proud of this accomplishment, especially since his record in his first two seasons was 18-18.
In preparation for the big game on Sunday, the team has been watching and critiquing film from their games against Oyster Bay. During the regular season, each team won one game and Mercurio feels Sunday’s game will be a “good battle”. The players’ biggest focus will be handling and moving the ball to one another, to set up the best shots possible.
“For the first time in playoffs, we’re gonna play an opponent we’ve played before, so that’s something different for us,” Mercurio said. “Typically, we’re facing teams we don’t know much about. Now we’re in a different ball game, we’re playing a team we know a lot about and they know a lot about us.”
If the team wins on Sunday they will move on to the Nassau Class B Championship, but Mercurio said the Seahawks aren’t looking too far ahead.
“All season we have been preparing for these next two weeks,” He said. “Everything that we’ve done up until this point has put us in this position, I know the boys have what it takes.”