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Senior captain Mike Sitro capped off a nice two-year career with North Branford boys’ hoops by garnering All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors this season. (Photo courtesy of Mike Sitro )
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After getting cut from his 8th-grade basketball team, Mike Sitro spent one year at Sheehan and then stepped away from the game as a sophomore. However, Mike made a triumphant comeback when he transferred to North Branford for his junior year and then went on to have a sensational senior season this winter.
Mike led the Shoreline Conference by averaging 23.8 points and 17.5 rebounds on the campaign. A senior captain, Mike earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors and was also named North Branford’s Most Valuable Player.
“We went 1-19 my junior season. It was disappointing, but it made me want to work harder. I would try and get as many shots up as I could and lift weights whenever I can,” Mike says. “Going in as a senior, I was thinking, ‘This is my last year. I’m only going to have one more year to play basketball.’ I played as hard as I could every game, tried to be a good teammate. It was definitely a better season than last year.”
Mike transferred to Northford to live with his father Chris prior to his junior year. That summer, he hit the court as often as possible to stay in shape and improve his game. When Mike joined the T-Birds as a junior, he felt that the time off only made him stronger and better prepared to succeed at the high school level.
“Taking a year off to try and get better and work on my individual skills is definitely what I needed,” says Mike. “Going to the new high school was like a fresh start. Everything was new. I met some really good people. The one thing that helped me was staying motivated to get better. The most important thing was putting in the work during the offseason.”
While North Branford came up shy of making states this year, the team still increased its win total by five from the previous season. Mike delivered a career performance during one of those wins—a 62-56 victory versus Cromwell on Jan. 16. Mike scored 35 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lift Head Coach Cliff Yerkes’s club to a big road win over a solid Cromwell squad.
“We go there, and Mike is unstoppable. He fouled out two or three of their guys and scored 35 points,” Yerkes says. “We beat a team we had no business beating in their gym. I was using Mike to break pressure, because no guard could stop him. The ball was in his hands, so he could shoot the free throws that sealed the game.”
Mike experienced a high point when North Branford defeated Cromwell. However, Mike also went through the lows of sports when he was cut in 8th grade and saw limited minutes in his freshman year at Sheehan. Mike developed a bit of a chip on his shoulder after getting cut. From that point on, Mike played like he had something to prove and wanted to show that he deserved to be on the floor.
“It started when I got cut from the 8th-grade team. It forced me to try even harder for myself athletically and pushing my body to getting where I wanted it to get,” says Mike. “This past summer I would be in the gym for hours, just using it as motivation and getting better every day.”
Mike adds that growing closer to his father helped him improve as a basketball player. After Mike moved in with his dad, the two would shoot hoops together and play games like H-O-R-S-E. Mike wanted to get the upperhand against his dad, and that made him work even harder.
“I really look up to him. He’s a great guy. He helped me, too,” Mike says of his father. “He always took me down to the courts to play basketball with him. He would always beat me and that made me want to get better. I wanted to be a better basketball player than him. I’ll never forget it.”
Mike found a home during his two campaigns at North Branford. Mike made constant progress on the court, while forming a lot of connections off of the court throughout his tenure with the T-Birds.
“It was a great experience,” Mike says. “Going to a new high school was a whole different environment. It was a positive change. I had more opportunities, and it was a better fit for me academically and athletically.”
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