The Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity basketball team, has become accustomed to winning. After three winning seasons in a row, there were high expectations for the Rebels this year. Unfortunately, though, this year’s team did not have the type of season it had been hoping for. Losing most of its top players from last season made this a rebuilding year and a “huge teaching experience,” said coach and physical education teacher Phil Fisher.
The Rebels finished 6-9 and missed the playoffs. After winning three of their first four games, the Rebels’ season looked promising. But ending the year with five straight losses turned the season into an unsatisfactory one and took the Rebels out of the playoff picture. “I was disappointed with the outcome of the season, but we worked hard and tried our best and I’m proud of my guys anyway,” senior and Captain Ethan Stumpf said.
The Rebels struggled the most in tight games. “Throughout the season, towards the end of close games, the team lost its composure,” senior point guard Petros Skaliarinis said. Fundamentals were a big problem for the team, especially in the fourth quarter.
Taking better care of the ball and knocking down free throws were just some of the things the Rebels failed to excel in when they needed them most. “All of the close games we had came down to missed free throws, missed lay-ups and stupid turnovers,” junior forward Casey Lamountain said. “You can’t win close games if you don’t finish easy plays.”
Fisher highlighted the games against Beacon High School and Bread and Roses High School in order to showcase the Rebels’ woes this season. Had the Rebels won both those “winnable” games, they would have made the playoffs. Fisher called the game against Bread and Roses a “team letdown from top to bottom.” The game was a prime example of the Rebels’ free throw shooting problems. They were 11-24 from the line and only lost by six. In the Beacon game, the Rebels let a double digit lead slip away on their home court in a packed gym. At the end of the game the team went cold from the field and suffered a devastating loss.
Not playing defense on every possession and lack of comraderie and maturity on the court also contributed to the lack of success that the Rebels were hoping for. According to Fisher, senior center and Captain Ethan Stumpf was the only “consistent defender,” he said. He also added that the team “never seemed to gel for long enough periods of time.”
This year, the Rebels often found themselves playing in spurts, both in practices and in games. Skaliarinis hinted at the immaturity of some of the players as a cause of this problem. “We needed to be more mature during practices,” he said. “There was a lot of skill on the team, but the maturity level didn’t match the talent many of the players possessed.”
Looking ahead to next season, the Rebels haven’t lowered their expectations and will be out for redemption. “We would like to put ourselves in a position to win the division and possibly get a home playoff game,” Lamountain said.
For that to happen though, some things will need to change. There has to be an increase in focus and dedication. A lot depends on the development of this year’s rookies. “They have to grow up emotionally and physically,” Fisher said.