After losing their first three games of the season, the Runnin’ Rebels, Stuyvesant’s boys’ basketball team, came into their game against their division rivals the Eleanor Roosevelt Huskies with a must-win mentality. As a result, the Rebels played their best basketball of the season, defeating Eleanor Roosevelt by a score of 58-51.
The Rebels found themselves as underdogs entering the game against the Eleanor Roosevelt team, which was averaging 74.5 points per game, while giving up an average of 62 points per game. Despite this, Stuyvesant got off to a strong start right out of the gates and kept the game relatively close, as they led 15-12 after the first quarter.
“They’ve really handled us the last few years. However, we ran our system of basketball successfully and managed to get them frustrated to a point. We got a lot of easy baskets and open looks, and we took advantage of that. We were able to take lot of time off the clock on offense and were able to cut down on their possessions,” coach Philip Fisher said.
In the second and third quarters, the Rebels exposed the weaknesses of the Huskies, as they scored 29 points and allowed just 17 in this time. The Rebels used their offense to their advantage by moving the ball and looking for the best shot, leading to multiple players contributing on offense as the team totalled 17 assists in the game, their highest of the season so far.
Fisher has made it a point throughout the season to move the ball, and it’s certainly been shown. “Everyone knows who [senior and co-captain Michael Feinberg] is when we walk into the gym, but so many people are contributing,” he said. “[Senior and co-captain Tobias Lange] is scoring and doing a ton of little things to help us, [senior Niko Ziozis] is playing really physical setting screens and rebounding, and [senior Angelo Yu] and [junior Nicola Manfredi] have had a few games scoring in double digits.”
“This just goes to show that the ball is moving and not sticking to just one person,” Fisher said. “It’s nice to take pressure off [Feinberg] and to be able to share the scoring load.”
Stuyvesant was also able to play a strong defense, forcing the Huskies to take a lot of long-range shots, an area they struggled in. “We just stayed in our zone and let them shoot threes, which they missed a lot of,” Lange said. “We boxed out well and kept them off the offensive glass, an area they had been very strong in.”
The team maintained a high level of intensity and toughness by diving for every loose ball and fighting for every rebound. The Huskies attempted a late fourth quarter comeback, playing aggressively and scoring 22 points. However, this effort fell short as the Rebels came together and responded in the final minutes, making a few crucial shots late in the game to hold onto the lead. In addition, the team benefited from the Huskies getting into foul trouble, giving the Rebels the chance to extend the lead.
“We kept our composure and kept running our offense to get key shots and keep the lead,” Feinberg said.
Despite their underdog status, the Rebels felt confident going into the game. “We had been close in all our first three games, losing by two, 14, and eight against the top teams in the division, so we felt good about our chances,” Lange said.
In addition, the Rebels worked hard in practice all week to address the issues they faced in their first three games. Some prevalent issues they faced were fundamentals and running their sets, particularly in the second half of play. They addressed this issue thoroughly in practice and their effort manifested itself in their strong performance.
Another source of success for the Rebels was the enthusiastic support of their peers. “They really help us keep our energy and intensity up on the court,” Lange said. “They’re the little extra energy we need when we get tired in the second half.” The combination of energy from the crowd and hard work at practice on their fundamentals and endurance gave them just what they needed to outplay a very strong Eleanor Roosevelt team.
At press time, the team’s success carried over to the next game, as the Rebels defeated Washington Irving High School by an impressive score of 58-41 on December 15. The win puts the Rebels at 2-3 for league games so far this season.
With the back-to-back wins, the Rebels look good, but Fisher doesn’t want them to stop here. “We are finally having some success and learning how to win and have more confidence,” he said. “However, we have not reached our ceiling in terms of room to improve. I hope that we can continue to win and improve.”