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Senior Shane Franklin did a great job of leading the East Haven boys’ basketball team as the lone captain on the Yellowjackets’ roster in the 2019-’20 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Alias Ford was one of three juniors who started and hardly ever left the court for the Yellowjackets’ boys’ basketball squad this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Ian Reynolds and the Easties played better during the second half of their campaign and are already looking forward to next year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The East Haven boys’ basketball spent most of its season playing with a five-man rotation this winter. After altering their game-plan at the beginning of the year, the Yellowjackets found themselves lacking depth. However, as the campaign unfolded, those five teammates were able to help each other grow and showed a lot of potential on the court.
Even though East Haven finished with a record of 4-16, Head Coach Ricky Narracci said that the chemistry among his athletes continued to develop throughout the season.
“We had a lot of adversity we faced, especially in the beginning of the year. We probably played in the toughest division in the league. It was a hard year on many levels, but it was a satisfying one,” said Narracci. “The second half of the year was outstanding if you compared it to the first half of the year. We were two different teams. Once kids got comfortable in their roles and what was expected of them, they adapted well. I was proud of our kids and staff, and I think we generated a lot of momentum heading into next year.”
The five athletes who were constantly on the floor for the Easties were senior captain Shane Franklin, juniors Alias Ford, Ian Reynolds and Nick Furino, and sophomore Shea Carasone. Each player filled a different role on the team. As they continued to play together, they formed a stronger bond and functioned as a more cohesive unit.
Coach Narracci said that Franklin did an excellent job of leading the Yellowjackets.
“Shane is one of the better leaders I’ve ever been around. He did all the right things on and off the court,” Narracci said. “In the offseason, Shane did all the things a captain is supposed to do and led by example. He made sure that, despite losing games, the kids came in with great effort and attitude every day.”
Coach Narracci referred to his three juniors as the core of team. Narracci said that Reynolds is the hardest worker on the squad and continues to get better every year. The coach added that Furino was immensely valuable to the Easties with his ability to score and defend the other team’s best player. Narracci also called Ford best athlete on the team and said that when he has a big game, East Haven usually does, too.
Narracci went on to say that Carasone played more minutes than expected and gave East Haven a lift with his shooting skills.
The Yellowjackets’ progression was exemplified by the fact that they played much better against several teams the second time they faced them this year. For example, on Jan. 31, East Haven took a 71-33 home loss against Fairfield Prep. When the two clubs squared off again three weeks later, East Haven only lost to the Jesuits by three, dropping a 50-47 decision on the road on Feb. 20.
“In the beginning of the year, we were really trying to figure things out. We were expecting different kids to be playing, and had to change our outlook at what we wanted to do,” Coach Narracci said. “Once the kids saw better results when we slowed things down, they bought in. That was the biggest difference. They did everything we asked them to do.”
Narracci felt that Franklin’s leadership helped East Haven stay motivated. As the lone senior on the roster, Franklin wanted to finish his career strong and keep everyone’s spirits up on a young club.
“Shane wanted a have a great experience his senior year. His attitude kept everyone’s attention to detail and effort in practice up,” said Narracci. “We were a young team, so the message was to have faith in our plan and keep working—things are going to break our way. If you’re a young group and you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you’re building towards something, that helps.”
Although the Easties are going to miss Franklin next season, they will still bring back four starters from this year’s team, while adding some new players to the mix. After watching the way his squad played down the stretch, Coach Narracci feels positive about the prospects for the next campaign.
“Usually, as a coach you’re kind of sad when the season ends, but you’re looking forward to some time off and a bit of a break. But I’m ready to go now,” Narracci said. “I’m excited about what we can do next year. I think if the kids put in a good offseason and work on their game, we can win some games next year. I’m looking forward to it.”
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