Huskies Focused on Tournament Seeding as Season Progresses
This season has been challenging yet fun for the Morgan Huskies boys’ basketball team. As their record currently stands at 9-4, Head Coach Frank Rossi is excited for what’s to come in the latter half of the season.
Alongside Rossi on the sidelines, who has been coaching the team for five years, are Jordan Bean (junior varsity coach) and Ryan Radziewicz (freshman coach who assists with varsity).
Edward “Eddie” Dwake and Matt Reed are the two senior captains. Rossi sees them as great captains due to their leadership and experience on the court.
“Together, the two of them returned the most varsity experience. They are the only two senior starters,” said Rossi. “We really relied on their experience and leadership this year to help bring the younger players along.”
Not only do the two captains unite to lead the team, but they each have their own unique qualities that help them find success in their roles, as well.
“Matt as our point guard, a lot of what we do goes through him on both offense and defense. That role in general, having a little bit of experience has helped us so far this season,” said Rossi. “Eddie, individually, is one of our top scorers. He has consistently been our leading scorer and brings a level of energy on offense that has been tough to match in terms of his ability to score in a lot of different places on the floor.”
The Huskies compete in the Shoreline Conference, in which they are currently 8-1 for conference play. They are also in fourth place in the conference, competing against Cromwell, Old Saybrook, Portland, East Hampton, Valley Regional, Hale Ray, Coginchaug, Old Lyme, Haddam-Killingworth (H-K), North Branford, and Westbrook.
Reed and Dwake are both averaging about 15 points per game (ppg) to help fuel the Huskies’ success. Another player who has contributed to the winning ways for the Huskies this season is junior forward Jack Nye, who is averaging about 10 points per game to go along with 12 rebounds a game.
“He has been averaging 10 points and 12 rebounds a game. He has really been one of our best all-around players in terms of all aspects of the game,” said Rossi. “He’s rebounding, he has been a very good defender, and as an inside player, he has been a presence that plays much bigger than he is. His athleticism has been really important for the team this year.”
Other notable players for the Huskies this year include junior forward Ryan Donadio, junior forward Mason Krott, and junior guard Robbie Estabrook, who is averaging about seven points per game.
“All three of them have started; they have been key contributors consistently, both offensively and defensively,” said Rossi.
On Jan. 10, the Huskies played against the Old Saybrook Rams and won by a final score of 74-54. Since playing the Rams, the Huskies have rattled off five straight victories, also beating Coginchaug, Portland, Old Lyme, and Westbrook.
As the Huskies head into the second half of regular-season play, Rossi is excited about what’s to come but also understands there are challenges the team will face when it comes to maintaining their winning ways.
“I think the biggest challenge at this point is to try to maintain some level of consistency in the second half of the season,” said Rossi. “We still have two games to play against Cromwell and East Hampton, two of the better teams in our division. I think any time you get into a start like that, the goal is to try to maintain that level of play and consistency that we have built in the first two months of our season.”
After the 52-38 win against the Westbrook Knights, the Huskies qualified for the state tournament, crossing off their initial goal from the start of the season. Even though they have clinched a tournament bid, Rossi knows it is still important to continue to compete rather than take their feet off the gas.
“Initially, as we start the season, our first goal is to get into the state tournament, to get those eight wins, and we got there,” said Rossi. “I think moving forward, we talk about this in practice, that our approach every day is to look at every game as a state tournament game. Now that we are in, we are playing for seeding.”
Rossi always emphasizes to his team how important the remaining home games that are left on the schedule are to walk off the court with a win.
“Last year, we were in the semi-finals, and I think it is important to realize how critical the home games are. To try to earn good seeding in the tournament, our approach right now is to do what we can to control what we can,” said Rossi. “We don’t want to get to the end of the season to rely on someone to beat somebody else; we want to control what we can. In terms of the shoreline tournament, we want to get into the top four to get a home game in the first round. For the state tournament, we want to be the highest seed possible and try to get a home game or two.”
Besides the effort and motivation displayed by the team on the court day in and day out, Rossi believes the balance on the roster, with a variety of different players contributing every day, is a major factor in the Huskies’ success.
“Every night, someone different individually leads the way. I think that has helped us in terms of our record and particularly over the last five games; this team has great chemistry,” said Rossi. “They play very unselfish; this is a really tight group that shows that everyone has done something in a big way to contribute. I think everyone on the team appreciates that, and there is no one key person that is going to carry us the rest of the way.”
Senior night for the Huskies will be against the North Branford Thunderbirds on Friday, Feb. 10.
The Huskies’ roster is comprised of Nye, Estabrook, Krott, Dwake, Donadio, Patrick O’Neil (junior, guard), Kolby Clifton (junior, forward), Reed, Kyle Kobelt (junior, center), Carter Hayash (senior, guard), Ryan Luciani (senior, forward), Noah Cinquino (junior, guard), Tyshawn Davis (sophomore, guard), and Logan Ryan (sophomore, forward).