The Steinbrenner boys basketball team played their first home game on Tuesday, Dec. 3, against long-time rival Sickles High School. The Warriors had never beat the Gryphons after years of facing off, and unfortunately, this week’s game did not end the Sickles’ winning streak.

Last year’s varsity team had a rough year, winning just six of their twenty-six games for the season. Charles Allen, the boy’s basketball coach, however, is hopeful that this year’s boys will turn it around.

“We didn’t have a lot of success in terms of winning and losing,” said Allen, “so obviously that’s the ultimate goal; be a little bit more competitive and hopefully get some more wins.”

This group of players is brand new, entirely made up of boys that didn’t play varsity last year. But Allen is still optimistic, as the students now playing on varsity were once a part of the most successful JV team Steinbrenner has ever seen.

At the Sickles game, it was clear that the Warriors were outsized, with much of the Gryphons’ team standing heads and shoulders over their opponents. That made guarding, rebounding, and defense a struggle for the shorter team. Allen says it’s a challenge they’re likely to face throughout the season.

Sickles player Javohn Thomas goes for the basket amid blocks from Warriors players Darnell Nziga and Max Otto. Defense was tough for Steinbrenner, as they were largely outsized by their competitors.

“You can’t coach size. Some teams have it, some teams don’t,” said Allen in a post-game interview on Tuesday night, “people are going to pressure us. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be more physical and rise up to the challenge. Play a little more intelligently and keep ourselves out of the situation of getting trapped.”

Though the final score was 45-67, the competition remained heated, particularly in the third period of Tuesday’s game. After halftime, the boys bounced back for a time, whittling down the lead to as close as six, much closer than the final deficit of twenty-two.

Shawn Cochran, who plays small forward for the team, said in a post-game interview that the boys’ success this season will need to stem from consistency.

“Mentally, we need to play at a high level the whole game, not just up-and-down,” said Cochran, “give your all every single week.”

The men’s basketball team looks to take on Wharton next, on Friday, Dec. 6.

Jordyn Dees // Editor-in-Chief

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