2004-11-19 / Sports

Far Rockaway High School 2004-2005 Basketball Preview

By Elio Velez

Jeremy Pruitt (left) returns to the Seahorses’ lineup.
Jeremy Pruitt (left) returns to the Seahorses’ lineup. Anthony Miele will have no time to rest. After the end to a grueling Far Rockaway football season, it’s on to basketball where he will try to lead a young and hungry team in their quest to return to the playoffs.

In a competitive Queens III A conference in the 2003-2004 season, the Seahorses held their own with an 10-5 regular season record. Their playoff run ended with a valiant but futile comeback in a second round 82-69 loss to runner up Cardozo.

In his second season, Miele will have to make up for the loss of scoring when all-city player Derrick Gabriel and Dexter Geohagan graduated. This season, Miele will preside over a small but athletic and running squad that will put the competition on notice.

“We have a lot of ones’, two’s and three’s. We don’t have height but we got guys with athletic ability and can jump over the rim,” Miele said.

The reason why they defeated larger teams such as divisional rivals Van Buren was because they pushed the ball to create quick scoring opportunities. “This year we’re going to push shoot the ball and be a transition team. We got shooters. We don’t have height but we do have strong small kids who will run the ball. We’re going to get second and third opportunities and get to the line.”

Returning players such as Jeremy Pruitt and Chris Howard will have to transition from scoring touchdowns to scoring points. Miele says they are capable in handling the load.

“I think we’re going to be good. We practiced hard and show up in the games,” says Pruitt.

Two players he will count on to give more scoring options will be Shiloh Brown and junior transfer John Jordan. Another football connection to Miele, the senior 5’10 Brown has shown improvement with his shooting. Miele says his leaping ability and speed will create a lot of scoring opportunities.

“I’m going to be a big part of the offense. (Coach) Miele told me he wants me to put the ball in the basket and be a scorer to replace Derrick,” Shiloh Brown says.

“We’ll have a balance of younger and older players and we can have three or four guys who can score. It’s going to be a better overall team this year than last year,” Miele says.

Changes For Lady Seahorses

Coming off a 11-5 season last season and a playoff berth, head coach Les Sabbah knows what his veteran team need to do.

“This is it. We got to win this year,” Sabbah says.

The emphasis of winning is because his team includes five seniors who have made up the core of the Seahorses the past few years. Most of the players have participated in Sabbah’s softball and volleyball teams, which add to their familiarity with each other.

Sabbah says his approach to keeping players like Shamar Stewartson and Naiyma on his teams has helped them stay in shape and transition quickly into the regular season.

The teamwork and familiarity helped them to a playoff berth and second place behind Beach Channel. They lost a 45-43 first round matchup against John Bowne and Sabbah belives his team can go a bit farther if they make the playoffs.

“We have experienced people coming back. Shamar is a little dynamo at point guard who is a terrific ballhandler and shooter,” says Sabbah. Freshman shooting guard Shantee Goggins will get a chance to develop her skills with lots of playing time.

Naiyma Reid, who has gotten taller and quicker since last season, and Patrice McKenzie will be the starters at the forwards. Center Sandy Jean Francois will start for the second year in a row. Senior Natasha Sanchez has no fear in shooting the ball when she comes off the bench

Sabbah is happy at the progress of his team but not happy with the two changes that were made by the PSAL in the Queens I-B Division. The Seahorses will not face Beach Channel this year as the Dolphins were promoted to the A division. It will be strange according to Sabbah that his team will not face a neighborhood rival and that his team will not compete against their friends on the Dolphins.

The second change was the demotion of Van Buren High School to the B Division. Due to Far Rockaway’s lack of finances, they have to take public transportation, which includes three buses to travel to Van Buren in Queens Village. The hardship on travels, especially in the winter, may take a toll on his team.

“We can’t travel all the way to Van Buren and come back late at night in the cold weather. I rather go down the block to play Beach Channel,” says Sabbah.

If the Seahorses can get through the hardships on travel and stay close in the division, a playoff appearance should be reached.

“If we don’t self destruct, we’ll do well and make the playoffs,” said Sabbah.

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