Boys varsity basketball team hopes to outhustle competition

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Courtesy of Elana Galassi

Senior guard Ryan Kriftcher shoots a free throw against the Manahasset Indians on Dec. 7, 2012. The Vikings went on to win 51-46.

Josh White, Photo Editor

The boys varsity basketball team last won its conference in 2009.  They came close last year, finishing third in their conference, and were able to advance into the Nassau Class AA-2 playoffs as the seventh seed.  Port Washington was later defeated by tenth seeded Carey Seahawks, by a score of 59-42 in the first round.

Even though the Vikings have not won a conference championship in four years, head coach Mr. Sean Dooley sees many similarities between this year’s team and that of 2009.

“Both teams put in a ton of effort and play a good game of basketball.  They want to have fun, but also win by playing good basketball with their friends,” said Coach Dooley.

Despite losing five of last year’s seniors, the Vikings are led by an experienced group of players for this season.  Senior guard Ryan Kriftcher, who was the leading scorer of last season’s squad, averaging sixteen points in eighteen games, leads the Vikings.

The returning Viking players, who have experience in the varsity system, will maintain leadership roles and look to welcome new players, along with orienting them to the team.

Many of the Vikings new players have played for the Weber team, and these two squads share many of the same basic plays and rotations, so each player who comes up already has a background in how the team works.

In order for the Vikings to succeed in their conference, they need to do something that no Schreiber varsity basketball team has ever accomplished: beat the Baldwin Bruins.

Last season  the Vikings lost to Baldwin by a close score of 52-51.

In that game, the Vikings had to rebound after falling into a quick 17-4 hole after the first quarter.  Later on, the team bounced back with the assistance of twenty-two points tallied by guard Ryan Kriftcher.

The trend of falling into scoring deficits early in games was a chronic issue for last year’s team.

“We started off way too slowly last season and dug ourselves into a hole game after game, making it much harder to win,” said Kriftcher.

In order for the Vikings to succeed this season, they need to drive to a fast start and not look back.  The boys can be competitive if they can avoid turnovers and play the game to the best of their ability.

“If our defense can hold up this season, we can go undefeated at home,” said Coach Dooley.

For this goal to be achieved, they would need to beat every team in their conference at home, including Baldwin, and win a few other non-league games.

Despite the difficulty of the task, the Vikings believe that this goal is attainable.  For this goal to become reality, a few players will need to increase their playing level.

“Last season, Max Mastbaum was a huge spark off the bench.  I definitely could see him along with other players making a huge difference down the stretch in close games this season,” said Kriftcher.

In addition to its defense, which the team prides itself upon, the depth of the team allows it to run an up tempo offense.  While some teams may become tired in the second half, the Vikings try and maintain high energy and stamina throughout the course of the game, and believe this can help them win games down the stretch.

A lot of the boys on the team have played together since they were at the elementary level and on different leagues and teams outside of school.  Over time, players have developed an understanding of each other’s style.

The Vikings tip off their season on the road against the Great Neck South Rebels on Dec. 3, at 6:30.