Sophomore John Paci and eighth grader Chad Rowe paced the Huntington High School junior varsity boys’ basketball team this winter.
Captained by Paci and fellow sophomore John Tucker, the 15-player squad was coached by Travis Hefele. The team compiled a 3-13 mark in league play and went 3-16 overall, but many games were decided in the final minutes.
“This was a great group of kids who were willing to learn,” Hefele said. “Despite a rough start to the season, the team didn’t get discouraged, which allowed them to improve drastically by the end. If they stick together and work on their game, they will contribute to the Huntington basketball program in a positive way in the near future.”
Huntington topped Newfield (58-50), Centereach (48-46) and West Islip (48-43). Among the Blue Devil losses were close contests with East Hampton (49-45), Smithtown East (49-45) and Newfield (47-44). Three other defeats were by eight points or less.
Paci averaged 11 points per game. “John had a very strong season, proving to be one of the best players in the league,” Hefele said. “He displayed great leadership all year, whether it was stepping up during a big game, being a good teammate or working hard in practice.”
Rowe shined during his first year of high school basketball, averaging 10 points per game. “Chad proved to be one of our best players despite being an eighth grader,” Hefele said. “He had a great work ethic, which he displayed every practice by winning every spring and always being the last player to leave the gym.”
The highlight of the season came when Huntington beat Centereach on the road after losing to the Cougars by 14 points at home a few weeks earlier. “With six seconds left on the game clock, Chad Rowe found Dan Danziger open in the corner for the game winning shot to give us a 48-46 victory,” Hefele said.
Besides Paci, Rowe, Tucker and Danziger, the Blue Devil squad also included Jonah Anastos, Michael Cataldo, Jake Costabile, Matthew Girimonti, Darrius Harris, Jonathan Koumas, Jordon McCoy, Ethan Mulroy, Elian Pimentel, Nathan Soric and Michael Wright.
Hefele expects many of his players will move to the varsity level next season. Those returning to the JV will play a larger role on a “more competitive team.”