CROSS RIVER, N.Y. - When senior Dean Ford tore his ACL early in the football season, it dealt John Jay’s boys basketball team a blow. With Ford out for the basketball season and twin brother Bryce nursing a shoulder injury after leading John Jay’s football team to a Section 1 title in November, the Indians have some adversity to overcome.
But with four starters coming back, plenty of experience is returning and head coach Patrick Heaton projects a positive outlook.
“The loss of Dean Ford for the season will be a hard setback to overcome,” Heaton said. “He was All-League last year and perhaps the best defender in the league. With that said, we return four other starters, so the team still has high expectations for the season. With the addition of Yorktown and Greeley, we expect to compete in what will be a challenging league.”
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Heaton said that Bryce, a guard, could be ready to go for the first game, which is scheduled for Dec. 5 at Pearl River.
After a section title in the spring in lacrosse and then the section win in football, the Fairfield-commit Bryce Ford is going after a third section title this winter. “We’re pretty sure that no one in school history has won three consecutive section championships,” Heaton said.
Shane Martinsen, a junior forward, leads the Indians in the paint and is their leading scorer.
“He can shoot from the outside, he can shoot from the inside,” Heaton said. “If he plays smart, he can do a lot of different things. He’s pretty versatile.”
Senior captain Tim Hogan is the team’s point guard and best on-the-ball defender. Fellow senior captain Charlie Murphy is another key guard for the Indians, who will look to push the pace offensively.
“We’re an up-tempo team and we like to put a lot of pressure on the ball,” Heaton said.
Senior Jake Cohen, the third captain, is another returning guard. Brett Paulsen, a star shortstop on the baseball team, will pair with Martinsen in the paint at forward.
The Indians have eight newcomers: Mason DiFalco, Brian Nussbaum, Ben Brevetti, Stephen Ingersoli, Mike Tedesco, James Loeb, Ben Konak and Chris Walsh
“We’re hoping that Brian Nussbaum and Mason DiFalco can be pretty good shooters off the bench,” said Heaton, whose team went 11-11 last season and fell to Poughkeepsie in the opening round of the Class A sectionals.
Heaton said his top seven players are pretty strong, but beyond that is yet to be determined. “There won’t be a lot of minutes [for the rest of the players], but we saw some guys step up today and I was pretty happy,” Heaton said after a scrimmage with Spring Valley last week.
Heaton said the team’s success will depend on the “development of a bench and the ability to close games out and score in the fourth quarter.”
“The team has set its sights on competing for two early-season tournament championships and being a factor in the league and section championships,” said Heaton, whose team will compete in both the Fox Lane and Pelham tournaments.