Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
Sewanhaka High School’s boys varsity basketball team has their eyes set on the playoffs and beyond this season.
Led by third-year head coach Jason Allen, this could be the year the Indians really turn the corner, after struggling last season.
“We can be a very good team this year,” said Allen. “I think we can be a playoff team. The conference is very deep, but I think we will be in the mix with the top four teams and the playoffs.”
Allen’s confidence comes from the players that he has developed. Starting at Sewanhaka in 2010, this is the first senior class that Allen has had the opportunity to be with since their first days at the varsity level.
“They are a great group. Our [the coaches] success comes from them,” he said. “They are spreading what Sewanhaka basketball is all about.”
One player that Allen will really depend on is junior small forward Carlos Bodden. He played early for varsity last season as a sophomore, and his coach believes he is now ready to up his game. He was selected to the Nassau Country Preseason All-Star team, and his coach expects him to be a great leader on and off the court.
“He is our best overall player,” said Allen.
Bodden will receive help from senior guard Phil Repalone on the offensive end. Repalone should be able to help the Indians space the floor.
“He is our best offensive player. He’s a very good shooter,” said Allen. “He works very hard on his game.”
Lastly, the Indians will look to junior guard, Danori Williams, on the defensive side of the ball. Williams, who sat out last season due to injury, is the team’s best defensive player, according to Allen.
“Missing last season helped him mature and [increased] his hunger and passion,” Allen said.
Allen will not only have to rely on these players, but his entire team, as he hopes to run an up-tempo style on both sides of the ball.
“We definitely will play up-tempo on offense and defense. We want to create pressure and use our athleticism,” said Allen.
One of the Indians’ biggest weapons will be their speed and they look to take advantage of that by pushing the ball. Allen also looks for their pressure defense to create offense off of turnovers.
“We’re not going to let up on anyone,” he said.
Allen emphasized that in order to play this style of basketball, the Indians will have to rely on their bench. He believes they can go nine or 10 players deep into the roster and not have a drop-off from the starting five. Allen admits that he has a good problem in deciding who to start with this much depth.
Allen also thinks his team will be hard for others to prepare for as there will not be one key player or one guy that will consistently score 20 points per game.
“We have guys capable [of scoring 20 points-per-game] but it’s not our style,” Allen said.
While Allen admits in a tough conference every game is crucial, there are a few that stand out as a big test for him and his team. The Indians also have a difficult non-league schedule that should test this team.
Some key games will be conference foes Lawrence and reigning champion Hewlett. Allen also recognizes that the Indians play what he called one of the best teams in the county against Valley Stream South and that they open up their season against the very tough Long Beach team.