Clarke boys’ basketball head coach Joe Hasbrouck used last winter’s abbreviated schedule to call up the sophomores from the JV team and give them their first taste of varsity hoops. There were growing pains that resulted in a 2-6 record, but that experience could pay dividends this season.
After losing their first five games, the Rams showed a possible glimpse of the future by winning two of the last three contests to give the boys some confidence heading into the offseason. Eleven of the 13 players on this year’s team are juniors, in addition to just two seniors.
“I, maybe, unfairly threw them into the fire with no playoffs [last season],” Hasbrouck admitted. “But in my mind, it was a perfect situation to just get them playing at the speed of the varsity level and the physicality of it all. For the most part, they’re better off with it.”
Leading the way was junior James Desimone, who was the 24th-best scorer on Long Island last season with a 20.6 scoring average. His netted 35 points against Seaford on Feb. 13 and ended his season on a high note with 31 in a 55-43 win at West Hempstead.
“He’s going to be the real motor for our offense this year,” Hasbrouck said. “He’s an easy kid to coach. I’m hoping he can take a step forward from where he was last year.”
Hasbrouck is hoping to get secondary scoring from junior Tammyson Emile and senior transfer Brian Richard, who returned to the district after a stint at Holy Trinity. Jack Hollywood is a tough finisher in transition and center Jason Goetz improved his footwork from last season and can also take a step forward this season, according to Hasbrouck.
Hasbrouck said that bruising power forward Zeak Mercado and “super athletic” Jonathan Segura will also see plenty of minutes.