Rebels Are Down To The Wire Again
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With two seconds remaining in a suspenseful game against Washington Irving High School and the deficit of just three points, all eyes were on senior Nicholas Kim. Kim had the hot hand from behind the arc, having scored 12 of his 18 points from three-point range, and a three was what the Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ basketball team, needed. Tension in the gym started to build as the Rebels broke their huddle, where coach and guidance counselor Paul Goldsman had drawn up an inbound play in an attempt to get a good look at the basket and send the game into overtime. The scheme worked: as senior Sean Chung looked frantically for the first open teammate he could find, he sent a pass to Kim, as their coach had designed. Despite his wide open opportunity, Kim could not continue his success from beyond the arc; he bobbled Chung’s pass and was unable to get a good shot off, ending the Rebels’ hopes for a thrilling victory. The team was handed its second straight loss by a final score of 46-41 and dropped to 1-7 on the season.
The game was close out of the gate. Even as the Rebels’ season-long turnover struggles continued, Irving was missing its shots and senior Nicola Manfredi kept them in the game, scoring all seven of his points in the first quarter. “We didn’t move the ball well enough against Irving. However, I think we showed heart by staying in the game when they were physically larger than us,” Manfredi said. This was reflected as the turnovers spilled into the second quarter for the Rebels and they fell into an eight-point hole, but a strong finish spearheaded by Kim—who had begun to heat up from long range—cut the deficit to just four to end the quarter.
In the third quarter, some strong half-court defense thanks to a shift in strategy by Goldsman helped cut the opponents’ lead to two for some time and keep the Rebels in the game. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize, as they struggled to convert on the turnovers their strong defense created. Inevitably, turnovers came back to bite them again in conjunction with poor transition defense as the opposition took advantage of plentiful fast breaks. By the end of the quarter, Irving’s lead was at just six points thanks to some weak free throw shooting on its part.
The fourth quarter is where things really started to get interesting. Initially, Irving looked as if it was going to run away with the game as the team extended their lead to double digits. However, with time dwindling, a Rebel run spurred by strong three-point shooting from Kim sliced the lead down to three. Despite the shift in momentum, the Rebels were not able to close out the game.
The team finished the eventful month of December with a 1-5 record. The Rebels enjoyed a convincing 18-point away victory against the Norman Thomas Tigers on December 19. Conversely, the team suffered a demoralizing away loss at the hands of a strong Seward Park Campus Bears team.
Statistically, they have been too concentrated thus far this season. In terms of scoring, Manfredi and Kim led the way with 9.6 and 9.5 points per game, respectively, both placing within the top 15 scorers in the division. Aside from senior Michael Gillow, no other Rebel is averaging more than 4.5 points per game. Similarly, Gillow’s 2.9 assists per game led the team and placed him at 12th in the division, but no other Rebel makes an appearance on the leaderboard like senior Sean Chung, junior Ricky Zou, and Manfredi do in the 20-30 range, averaging just 1.3, 1.1 and one assist, respectively.
The Rebels have struggled with ball movement, and as they work on it, they are likely to see increases in the assist numbers and distribution of scoring. While the rebounding numbers are better distributed among four players with rebounding totals between 20 and 30, the Rebels are not well represented on the division leaderboard in that statistic. The Rebels hope to play more consistently in the five games they have remaining in the month of January.
As playoff berth begins to slip out of reach, the team is working to improve each game. “Our goal is still to make playoffs even though it’s a much harder task at this point,” Manfredi said. The Rebels have shown that they can compete with enough of their opposition to make a run for the playoffs. Often, the deficits in their 9-12 point losses were created almost entirely in one quarter while the Rebels played at par or better than the opposition during the rest of the game. If they improve on their ball movement and protection, they can close out games and finish the season strong despite the hole that they’ve dug themselves into. Goldsman is similarly optimistic. “I have seen significant improvements in some of our players and I hope it ultimately leads Stuyvesant to garnering some more victories,” he said. “We have played in many close games, and I believe that if we protect the ball better and make our free throws, those three-point loses can easily became five-point victories.”