New Coach Instills Positive Attitude In SSHS Hoopsters
By Jason Medina
After the South Shore High School boys basketball team finished a disappointing 5-11 in fifth place last season, the school’s second-year athletic director John Micillo, enlisted head coach Brett Tawil to inject new life into the Vikings and to instill a positive attitude to get the basketball program to the next level.
After winning four non-league games, the Vikings seemed poised to have a break-out year and make a run for the playoffs.
"We were feeling good about ourselves after the first four wins," said Tawil.
But once the regular season commenced South Shore struggled and lost their first three league games in what Tawil calls "the toughest division in the PSAL."
"Once the league started," the coach said, "we stopped doing what we had been doing to win games, which was playing together, handling the ball well, and valuing each and every possession."
With their backs to the wall and in jeopardy of falling out of the playoff race, the Vikings have won four of the last six division games and are back in the thick of things in the Brooklyn III-A standings.
"We have to take it one game at a time because every game is important," said Tawil. "We have to play with in-telligence, heart and pride.
"I believe this team is ready to break out in terms of aggressive play and playing as a team, and putting together a good solid run. We’ve been practicing really well and we’re ready to play."
Featuring nine seniors, Tawil feels he has one of the more talented teams in the league and has been stressing the importance of playing as a cohesive unit since they are not as physical or tall as other teams in the league.
According to Tawil, "Quickness, re-bounding and playing an up-tempo, fast-break type of game" are the Vik-ings’ strengths. Because of South Shore’s run-and-gun style of play, the team’s success depends on how well senior point guard Anderson Labase plays.
Labase is one of the team’s hardest workers and is its offensive catalyst, leading the team in points (16 per game) and assists (5.5).
"He’s an aggressive player with a great work ethic that thrives under pres-sure and has a great attitude on and off the court," said Tawil.
In order for Labase to run the team effectively, South Shore has to control the backboards so they can jump out on fast break opportunities. And that is where senior center Euland Williams, who is leading the team with eleven rebounds per game, comes into play. Williams is averaging a double double (double digit points and rebounds), and according to Tawil. "is a smart, finesse player who will be great on the next level."
Helping Williams in the front court is the hard-nosed senior forward/center, Onyedik Chuke. Despite playing out of position a lot of the time, Chuke battles hard against the bigger players in the league and because of his ag-gressiveness, tenacity and willingness to rebound, coach Tawil likes what he brings to the team.
The team’s best athlete, who Tawil says "is blessed with God-given athletic ability to play basketball" is senior forward Lennox Grootfaam, who is second in scoring (12.4 per game), Tawil says he is the one guy the team would miss the most if he couldn’t play because of his intensity. Groot-faam is a slasher who according to Tawil "still doesn’t know how good he is and how much ability he has."
The coach says the team’s best shooter is sophomore Dayon Mobley. A 6’1" shooting guard, Mobley finds ways to be successful and has the knack to hit big shots.
When all else fails, coach Tawil turns to his sixth man on the bench, senior guard Marcus Reyes, to give his team a lift. Reyes, who also plays on the varsity baseball team, has grown into a good ball handler and a good passer.
Despite naysayers who believe this year’s Vikings are in a rebuilding situation and are not a playoff caliber team, Tawil believes this team is go-ing to be the cornerstone of what is going to be "a powerhouse program" and promises the best is yet to come.