The Runnin’ Rebels Hope to Run to Victory This Season

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Issue 8, Volume 112

By Roxie Gosfield, Susie McKnight 

The Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity basketball team, gave it their all on June 24, 2021 in a match against Seward Park Campus. However, technical fouls, defensive failures, and a general lack of team organization, all of which had plagued the entirety of their season, led them to a devastating loss. Knowing that this tight defeat easily could have gone in their favor, the Runnin’ Rebels sought revenge going into the rematch on December 6. The team channeled its passion once again and brought home their second win this season against Seward.

Seward has consistently been a top team in the Manhattan A1 division. However, Stuyvesant’s 62-48 victory against Seward served as a confidence boost for the Rebels, proving that they could defeat teams they were previously unable to. Throughout the game, Stuyvesant dominated in every aspect. “We were shooting well, and we dealt with their press very easily. We controlled the tempo of the game,” senior and co-captain Deven Maheshwari said. Because they were able to shut down any attack by Seward while connecting offensively, the Rebels were up by 20 at half. Though Seward pushed to win the third quarter, it was nowhere near enough to compete with the Rebels’ continuous success in front of the basket.

The differences between the two Seward games capture the story of the spring and fall seasons; while the Runnin’ Rebels fell short in the former, they were successful in the latter and hopefully will be throughout the entirety of the season. Historically, the Runnin’ Rebels have failed to impress in their division, having ended their shortened 2020-2021 season with a 2-5 record. However, the Rebels have seen immense growth only five games into the season, both within the team as a whole and among individual players, and increases in commitment to intensity and attendance at practice. Coach Charles Sewell has emphasized the significance of fast transitions between defense and offense, an area in which the team has shown progress since the beginning of the season. This improvement has led to an increase in the number and quality of shots taken if the opposing team is caught off guard, which can help the team run up the score. The juniors on the Rebels have stepped up as well, getting more comfortable with the varsity playing level and filling in for their injured teammates when necessary.

The goal for every sports team—be it a Little League team or an NFL team—remains the same: making the playoffs. The Runnin’ Rebels are no exception. In the A1 Division, a team must have a record of .500 or better to secure a playoff berth. Though the Runnin’ Rebels have not been to the playoffs in over five years, they have high hopes this year. “We definitely want to make playoffs this year, and we definitely should be, as long as we play to the best of our abilities and don’t play down to our opponent,” senior and co-captain Aidan Fingeret said.

So far, Fingeret’s strategy for making it past the regular season has worked for the team, as it currently meets the requirements with three wins and two losses, making it the winningest team in recent Stuyvesant boys’ varsity basketball history. However, they hope to make a few improvements to their team to get the most out of this 2021-2022 season. The Rebels do not want to uphold the low expectations from previous seasons and instead are focused on making a name for themselves. Maheshwari cited a greater pressure on the Rebels to perform. “For us to continue improving and continue to play at a high level, we’re going to need to be able to handle that pressure not only on the court but also generally being a team and playing together,” he said.

More specifically, Fingeret believes the Rebels need to target their rebounding. “We shouldn’t be giving the other team as many second-chance opportunities to get buckets,” Fingeret said.

The Rebels attempted to implement these improvements in their match against the Eleanor Roosevelt High School Huskies on December 14 and delivered. Starting strong with a string of three-pointers, the team dominated on the court throughout the first quarter. Though the Huskies took control of the second and third quarters, the Rebels held their own and continued to look for opportunities offensively. Beginning the fourth quarter with only a four-point lead from Stuyvesant, both teams gave it their all, making it an extremely competitive and evenly matched final 15 minutes. Ultimately, the Rebels successfully managed to remain on top, ending the game 56-52. The Rebels’ skillful display demonstrated to both themselves and their division that they have a stronger command of the game than ever before.

As most of their season is still ahead of them, the Runnin’ Rebels have plenty of time to improve and rewrite the story of boys’ basketball at Stuyvesant. With the motivation and drive of its captains and players, the team has a lot of potential and an amazing work ethic, a recipe for success. If they keep their current performance up, the Rebels have a real shot at making more Stuyvesant boys’ varsity basketball history.