Staples boys’ basketball exceeds expectations

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Cooper Boardman

Coming off a 5-15 finish in 2014, not much was expected of the Staples boys’ basketball team. But, after missing out on both the FCIAC and state playoffs last year, the team’s 2015 campaign has been one of the surprises in the FCIAC thus far.

The Wreckers got off to a hot start in league play—winning their first three games—including a shocking upset over state title contender Stamford, and have already matched last season’s win total.

Led by stellar outside shooting, the guard-heavy lineup Head Coach Colin Devine elected to go with provided a potent offensive attack that was no match for Ludlowe and Newtown.

The starting five is one of the most unique in the FCIAC, featuring three sophomores, zero juniors and two seniors.

6’4 center and post presence Nicolaas Esposito ’15 dominates inside and is the main rebounder on an undersized Wrecker squad. Connor Whelan ‘15 provides senior leadership and plays with emotion that is unmatched by any player on the floor. He serves as a de facto power forward—grabbing rebounds that Esposito can’t get to—but is better known for his clutch three point accuracy in big situations.

Point guard Justin Seideman ’17 has great speed and often pushes in transition for easy layups, but he also has the court vision to find open shooters. Ben Casparius ’17 is deadly from beyond the arc, knocking down three after three and is the man with the ball at the end of close games. Small forward Sean Pritchett ’17 may have been the surprise performer for the Wreckers. He made a big statement in his first varsity start, scoring the game winning layup with under a minute to go in Staples’ opening night victory over Fairfield Ludlowe.

After improving to 3-0, the Wreckers lost a close battle in the 2014 Wilton Holiday Classic Championship game to Wilton—one of the best teams in the FCIAC—but rebounded with a gritty win over St. Joes in overtime.

However, the team lost four straight games to Fairfield Warde, Greenwich, Wilton and Harding, but three of those four games were lost by seven points or less.

The Wreckers seemed to get away from the philosophy that had put them in FCIAC title contention. They had a tough time getting the ball in the hands of their dangerous three point shooters—Casparius did not score until the fourth quarter in their loss versus Wilton.

Staples got back to their winning ways with a 66-54 victory over Brien McMahon last Friday night though. In that game, Casparius dropped 19 points as the team looked like it was back to normal. The Wreckers also received a key contribution off the bench from three-point specialist Harry Kohn ’15, which was vital because it gave the starters time to rest while the offense continued to thrive.

The Wreckers dropped their next game Wednesday night to Ridgefield though, falling to below .500 for just the second time all year. Midway through the season, Staples is tied for 10th place in the FCIAC, just two spots out of a league playoff berth and one game behind Bridgeport Central, who they will face on Feb. 18.

The Wreckers have a favorable schedule ahead as 6 of their last 10 games are against opponents at or under .500 in league play. The team has an opportunity to qualify for both the FCIAC and state playoffs—which they were unable to accomplish last season—and they will begin that quest Friday night as they visit Trumbull.