Staples determined to return to state playoffs
WESTPORT — The Staples boys basketball team is determined to get back to the playoffs.
The Wreckers finished 5-15 a season ago, which is quite uncharacteristic of the proud program under the tutelage of veteran coach Colin Devine. Staples has only missed the CIAC playoffs once over the past 10 years prior to last season.
This year is different and the Wreckers currently are 3-3 while finishing as runner-up at their holiday tournament last week before heading into the heart of the FCIAC campaign starting this week.
“Last year, the coaching staff and the kids were obviously a little disappointed we didn’t make the state playoffs so our first goal would be to get back to the state tournament,” the 12th-year head coach said during Wednesday’s practice at Staples High. “Our next goal is to get better, individually and as a group, each day and hopefully we can make a run in the Division 3 playoffs and if we get the work done we need to do, there’s a chance we can be in the FCIAC playoffs as well.”
Leading the team this season are senior captains and guards Dylan Ward, Dylan Honig, Jake Thaw and Evan Vishno. Senior Lefty Pendarakis (forward), one of the best defenders on the team according to Devine, and juniors Ben Feuer (guard) and A.J. Konstanty (forward) and sophomore Lucas Basich (guard) are also making key contributions, the coach said.
Unfortunately, Honig sprained his ankle in Staples’ 70-51 victory over Westhill in the first game of the holiday tournament last week. Devine said he’ll be out of the lineup for a few weeks.
Despite being out, Honig is confident in his teammates and said the team is eyeing a return to the postseason.
“We don’t like to bring up last year but last year was an off year for us,” he said. “We didn’t do as well as we’d hoped but we’re 3-3 right now and there’s more good things to come.”
One of the things that has impressed Devine about his team has been its defensive intensity. The Wreckers have held opponents to 51 points or less four times already this season.
“My coaching staff is doing a great job working with the defense and the kids have bought in,” Devine said. “Right now, being early January, the defense is ahead of the offense but we’re pretty confident that our offense is going to catch up to our defense and we’ll be in position to win some games.”
The FCIAC will certainly test the Wreckers night in and night out and Devine said even though it’s still early, Trumbull, Trinity Catholic and Ridgefield, among others, are some of the teams to beat.
“It’s a really balanced league, but there’s going to be a lot of parity as well,” Devine said. “Top to bottom, it’s the best it’s been in a long time.”
Devine added that there are still some things his team needs to improve upon but the team is off to a good start and is working hard every day.
“We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” he said. “The players and coaches are confident we can do that.”
Staples will be at Trinity Catholic on Thursday, Jan. 3, and will be at Wilton on Monday, Jan. 7. The Wreckers will be back at home when the host Trumbull on Thursday, Jan. 10.