PELHAM, N.Y. —
Following a 59-52 loss to No. 10-seeded Pelham in the Section 1 Class A outbracket round, Somers coach Chris DiCintio was not going to dwell on the past.
With his entire team returning outside of lone senior Reid Killeen, the future looks pretty bright for the Somers varsity boys basketball team.
No. 23 Somers was deadlocked with Pelham at 27-27 at halftime, but the Pelicans built their lead up in the third quarter behind back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the edge to 42-34 with 2:09 on the clock.
"We came out a little sluggish," DiCintio said of the third quarter. "When you're inexperienced, sometimes you can't believe what's actually happening — that you're in the game. And I think that the kids, just for a brief moment or two, I thought the first couple of minutes they got caught up just a little bit in that, 'Hey, we can win this game.' Once we settled back down I thought we made a game of it. Unfortunately, we had some mistakes down the stretch."
Somers battled with an experienced Pelham team and trailed 55-50 with 42 seconds left, but could not trim the deficit to less than five points and the Pelicans closed the game out.
The Tuskers fell behind early on in the first quarter, but fought back in.
"I was very proud of them," DiCintio said of the team's effort. "Coming out of the gate again and going down 8-0, I thought we showed a lot of resilience especially for an inexperienced, young team to come out of the gate and be down 8-0 in a playoff game and bounce back shows that the moment didn't really affect them. They weren't going to bow down and roll over. I was very proud of the way that they battled with a tie score at halftime right until the end of the game."
The Tuskers were led by junior Marc Maestri, who had 10 points. Sophomore Nick Gargiulo and Lorenzo Bicknese each added nine points, while Killeen added seven points.
It was a rollercoaster season for Somers with a youthful team, but DiCintio feels the squad grew as a unit and learned plenty during the 2015-2016 campaign.
"We couldn't be prouder as a coaching staff," DiCintio said. "For having a team with eight sophomores and five juniors, virtually the entire team inexperienced except for our one senior. Even Maestri and (Matt) Pires didn't have minutes last year, despite being on the varsity. Had one guy out of our 14 that had any court experience when it comes to varsity, so I could not be prouder nor could the coaching staff of the way the kids never stopped working in practice and never stopped believing that this is gonna happen."
The Tuskers are already optimistic about next season.
"We're very excited," DiCintio said. "The whole game plan behind this was that we knew we had a very talented bunch of underclassmen and we knew that this was going to be one of those years where we were going to have to have some growing pains along the way. Certainly we were looking to surprise some teams in the playoffs this year, but not losing sight of the fact that we're also building for the future and in a program that we feel is very strong and very stable at this point."