A New Era for the ELHS Boys’ Basketball Team

With four new coaches, EL boys’ basketball team is looking to repeat success from last year ALEX BROWN & ALEX SALERNO

A New Era for the ELHS Boys’ Basketball Team

ALEX BROWN & ALEX SALERNO

Following the retirement of 8-year head coach Jeff Bernardi, new boys’ basketball head coach Tim Strong is looking to repeat the ECC championship success of last year. Coach Strong coached in Montville for three years prior to this basketball season compiling a record of 23-31. “We are going to stress teamwork, hard work, dedication, and just being together,” coach Strong said. “There’s teams that maybe have a little less talent, but really work well together, and you’ll see those teams generally go pretty far.”

Coach Strong mentioned the significance of senior leadership. He said he wants to see this year’s seniors mentor the younger kids and build a foundation for years to come. “Right now, our leaders are really leading by example. However, they need to be more vocal,” Strong said. Both coach Strong and freshman head coach Dan Scheyder, who is the only coach returning from last year, stressed teamwork as indispensable for their team’s success. Coach Scheyder also stressed the importance of players fully committing to the team. “Winning an ECC title showed these kids what we can do,” said coach Scheyder. “But, it took commitment from all levels and sacrifice at all levels.” Strategy-wise, coach Strong feels that you need a diverse mix of offensive and defensive skills to win games. “I think defensively we’re pretty good, but I think we’re still trying to figure outsome things as far as our zone defense,” coach Strong said. “Offensively, I’m a firm believer that sometimes you just have to let kids play and kind of let the pieces fall in line.” Coach Scheyder believes that the talent from last year’s ECC championship team will carry over into this year’s team. “I think there’s a lot of pure basketball players on our team. But now, we have to get those reps at the varsity level so that people are composed and able to handle the speed and chaos that the varsity level brings,” coach
Scheyder said. Sophomore and center for the boys’ varsity basketball team Oliver Hibbard has similar opinions.
“The seniors last year brought great leadership to the team, and the chemistry that they helped us develop as a team was a major factor to our success last year,” Hibbard said. “We will need new guys to step up and fill this role, but I think that we have plenty of people that can do so.” In addition to this, Hibbard believes that the team simply needs to undergo a transition phase. “When there is a coaching change, there is always an adjustment period. But I think after a couple weeks of practice, once all the players get used to the change, we will be able to go into the season confident and ready to play any team on our schedule,” Hibbard said. In addition to coach Strong, three more new coaches will be joining the staff this year. This includes 15-year Wheeler coach Neal Colbeigh, former Ledyard JV coach for 20 years Don MacKenzie, and current weapons officer in the Navy Tyler White as the new strength and conditioning coach. So long as the new coaches and new players can gel by their first game on Dec. 15, this year
should yield success similar to last year.