Season Recap: Boys’ JV Basketball

The Runnin’ Rebels had a promising season, with a 13-3 regular season record and a playoff berth.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cover Image
By The Sports Department

With the end of the Stuyvesant winter sports season, it’s time to recap one of the strongest runs of the season from the Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ JV basketball team. The Rebels stacked up a 13-3 record (tying them for second in the Manhattan I league) and a playoff berth. With the varsity basketball team getting better year by year, it’s worth recognizing the hard work of the Rebels and Coach Howard Barbin in creating a strong team within their hyper-competitive division.

The Rebels opened their season with an away game against Bayard Rustin, a formidable team that would go undefeated. Though the Rebels lost 61-40, they played with heart, scoring close to Bayard in the second half and even outscoring them in the second quarter.

The promise the Rebels showed in their first game was put on full display over their next seven, all of which they won by an average of 31 points. In two games, one at Norman Thomas on December 15 and one against Baruch on January 3, the Rebels held their opponents at 16 points while scoring 70 and 62 themselves, respectively. Any box score from these seven games, but especially from these two, is indicative of both a powerful Stuyvesant offense and hard work in the other half of the court.

The offensive prowess started with sophomore guard Terrence Liao. Liao is the Rebels’ leading scorer, with 14.2 points per game and 213 total points (Stuyvesant sports fans may remember him for winning last year’s three-point contest). Liao is known for his hot streaks—he’s netted 25 in two games, with a 28-point performance against East Side Community in early January. But the scoring doesn’t stop at Liao. Both co-captains, sophomore forwards Ian Buchanan and Frank Zheng, were consistent scorers, both averaging around 10 points per game. The captains’ contribution is more than just scoring, though, as they average a combined 16 rebounds per game, a large part of why the Rebels’ defense held league teams to an average of just 33 points after their first game. About the captains’ impact, Liao said, “[Buchanan’s and Zheng’s] effect is huge. When everyone is playing together, we all have a good time, and it’s like we don’t stop scoring.”

 That mindset was exemplified perfectly in the Rebels’ last home game of the season, a nail-biter against School of the Future, who was tied for fourth place in the division. In that game, both Buchanan and Zheng scored in the double digits, with Liao leading the scoring with 25 points. The team also made 10 three-pointers on very efficient shooting. They didn’t win purely on offense, either. The Rebels were down by eight going into the fourth quarter and, incredibly, held Future to their lowest-scoring quarter of the entire season with just four points. This was a game the Rebels may very well have lost at the beginning of the year, but their growth and camaraderie in the win was evident.

The future of the team looks bright as well, with the Rebels sporting quite a few promising freshmen, including guards Izo Kawaguchi and Eric Liu, who were invaluable scorers in many games. The chemistry between the Rebels is superb, with the leadership of the captains and veteran sophomores meshing with talented freshmen looking to learn. As the freshmen step up next year, the sophomores will transition into varsity play with Coach Charles Sewell over the off-season, rejoining their JV mentors from two years back.

Despite this, the Rebels struggled against stronger teams like Bayard Rustin, who they lost twice to. “Our offense can look sloppy, and we need to work on putting the ball in the basket more consistently,” Zheng said. Their offense had also been [isolation]-heavy, with no player averaging over 1.5 assists per game. As Zheng said, when your scorers are having off days, as all scorers do, an isolation-based offense can stagnate. On top of on-court issues, the team had a rocky start off the court, with a few players quitting mid-season.

While the Rebels weren’t perfect by any means, they certainly have all the pieces to be  great moving forward. The players are certainly determined to get better, and they can be seen during most hours of their off-season playing pickup in the park. The work and time they’ve put in together will help prepare sophomores like Zheng, Liao, and Buchanan for the varsity team, while readying freshmen like Liu to lead the Rebels next year. Like their first game, the Rebels showed massive promise throughout the season, even during the rough spots. If their next season is anything like the games after their opener, we have a lot to look forward to.