While those who play sports generally tend to gravitate towards the one they love most, the athletes at Malverne High School are always involved in athletics throughout the school year. This allows the students to remain active and be a part of such a tight-knit school community. A prime example are those who play on the boys’ basketball team.
Out of the 16 players on Malverne’s roster this season, eight of them played football in the fall and helped the Mules reach the semifinals (Norman Brown, Sylvain Castin, Zavion Daniels, Kevin Estime, William Hartley, Amarii Sylvester, Farvens Ulyssee, and Chad Wesley), making the switch a bit more challenging to adapt to.
“Trying to get them from football mode to basketball mode might take a week or two,” associate coach Walter Aksionoff said. “We try to condition our athletes by running quite a bit.”
Two of those names in particular that have brought a unique set of skills to the gym floor are both of Malverne’s quarterbacks; Ulysse and Wesley.
“He (Farvens) keeps growing every year,” said Aksionoff, a longtime assistant of head coach Darroll Lopez. “Farvens has a nice jumpshot and can hit the three too. Chad drives very well to the basket and he’ll try to pressure the best and maybe get a steal.”
The youngest member of the Mules roster is eighth grade guard Malachi Hudson, who has already begun to catch the eyes of Malverne’s coaching staff.
“He has a very high basketball IQ,” Aksionoff said. “He can handle the ball and shoot a little bit already, but right now it’s about him getting acclimated and playing against varsity kids.”
Malverne resides in conference 2B, which features Seaford, West Hempstead, and East Rockaway as rivals. The Mules have gotten off to a 2-0 start in league play, but also know that bigger goals exist for the program this season.
“For them to get better, they have to play against the best,” Aksionoff said. “If we can go against stronger teams we can play, it will only help our team.”
In certain cases, history tends to repeat itself in the world of sports. The Mules hosted their annual Hank Williams Memorial Tournament last week and found themselves back in the finals for the second consecutive year against Manhasset. Last year, Malverne was the only team to beat the Indians as Manhasset went on to win the Class A state title.
This time around, Manhasset was able to get its revenge over with a 58-51 victory. on Dec. 29 Mules captain Joshua Croom led the offense, scoring 20 points, while Estime tallied 15. Croom and Ulysee were named to the All-Tournament team.
Malverne had plenty of opportunities to repeat, but the Mules went just 11-for-21 at the foul line whereas Manhasset was 12 of 16.
“The losses will help us down the road,” Aksionoff said. “As long as we can win and be competitive, I think we can hold our own in our league without a doubt. We hope we can make it to the county finals and go from there.”