The Staples boys basketball team came agonizingly close to making the FCIAC playoffs a year ago. Two defeats to end the season by a combined seven points was the difference between a spot in the dance and one on the sidelines.
This year's team hopes to make amends.
The Wreckers, who finished 11-10, missed out on a FCIAC playoff spot on the final day of the regular season last year, but qualified for the state tournament for the sixth straight season.
"We are trying to be a playoff basketball team," Wreckers seventh-year coach Colin Devine said. First that means qualifying for the state playoffs, then hopefully having a shot to qualify for FCIAC's."
The Wreckers will have to make up for the loss of backcourt tandem James Frusciante (first team All-FCIAC) and Pete Rankowitz (second team), who accounted for the bulk of the offense a year ago. Staples also lost Ross Whelan, Alex Addessi and Joe Greenwald to graduation.
"They were great players that will be hard to replace," Devine said. "But we are hoping these guys that are stepping into new roles will come together to replace that scoring and pick up a few points on the defensive end."
It will be a new-look Staples team this season with four new starters entering the lineup. Captaining the Wreckers will be guards David Katz and Andrew Felman and forward Darryle Wiggins. Juniors Nicolas Esposito (forward) Jake Melnick (guard) are also in the mix.
"They've had a great offseason," Devine said of his captains. They are extremely hard workers that set good examples for the rest of the team.
The Wreckers open their season Dec. 18 at home against Danbury. While the first half of the schedule is manageable, Staples faces a brutal four-game gauntlet down the stretch in St. Joseph, Bridgeport Central, Norwalk and Westhill.
Regardless of who is supplying the offense, the goal remains the same according to Devine.
"We want to get the best shot off possible, we want to attack and score the basketball."
Defense will also be a crucial element to the Wreckers success with so much offensive firepower having graduated.