Boys basketball begins work towards strong 2016-2017 season

Jenny Valenti, Staff Writer

The boys varsity basketball season has begun, and so far, each player has been working tirelessly to reach their full potential.  With the season just kicking off, the first home game will be on Dec. 20.  In the gym, the bleachers will be packed, as they always are, with the parents and fans to see the game.

The games always create an extremely fun atmosphere with all of the members of the Vikings performing at their highest level of competition.  There are new, younger additions to the team that many of the more experienced players are excited about.

​“The new players to the team bring energy to the team,” said senior point guard Jake Block. “They bring a willingness to work hard every day in practice.”

The team adjusted quickly to the new additions to the team.  Now, as the season gets closer, they are now working well together as one unit.  On Dec. 10, the team traveled to Manhasset for a tournament.  The Vikings proved why they are one of the top teams in the conference by winning both games against Manhasset and West Hempstead.

Port started their games slow, but they were given a burst of energy from the excitement of the bench, which drove them to victory.  The Vikings repeated as champions of the tournament, an accomplishment that they earned last year.

To go along with the championship, Vikings players were also recognized for their performances during the event.  Block earned the all-tournament award, and senior Xavier Merriweather was awarded MVP of the tournament.

Members of the team believe that their skill level and abilities will only continue to improve as the season goes on.  They are optimistic about how much better they can become.

​“Each player seeks to improve both individually and as a team,” said junior Jack Stolper. “We know we all have a job to do, and we do everything without complaint.”​

In order to reach their high expectations for this season, Coach Sean Dooley is working to target the weaknesses of the team from the past season such as their defensive skills, ball security, and ball movement.

Coach Dooley is among the members in Port who have high hopes for the boys basketball team this year.  Athletic Director Stephanie Joannon has watched the team for years, and she is feeling hopeful heading into the season.

​“Despite being younger, the team will be extremely successful with the guidance of senior leaders,” said Mrs. Joannon. “Having a senior point guard [Jake Block] is definitely beneficial to the team, and Xavier continues to impress us all.”

​Ability aside, their drive and passion for the game will help carry them reach their goals.  The team wants to beat their 8-11 record from last year and make it to the playoffs, setting small goals for themselves for each game.

On Dec. 23, the team will play Baldwin.  Last year, the Vikings suffered a difficult loss.  This year, however, they are determined to win.  This will be their last game before winter break, but the team will not be taking off.

The top players for the Vikings will continue to work and push the other players on the team.  Merriweather has come out as the strongest force on the team.  He currently is ranked second in the conference for scoring with an average of nearly 30 points per game.

“Merriweather is amazing, and he makes everyone on the court better with his ability to see the court,” said senior Adam Mizrahi.​  “He is definitely one of the most talented players in the county, and we all look to him as our leader on the court.”

With the leadership of Merriweather and other great players like Mizrahi, Block, and senior Crew Weingard, the team hopes to reach their goals.  So far this season, the team has had three non-league games.  The Vikings currently sit at 2-1.

The team’s victories started with beating West Hempstead and Manhasset.  Their only loss to Massapequa was a close game, in which they lost 57-63.

“We are becoming both mentally and physically strong,” said junior Garrett Ressa. “The unique abilities of each player all contribute to the team, and we are all working really hard to perfect our own abilities.”