St. Luke's winter sports roundup
Updated 1:12 pm, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Playing fast-paced basketball from the outset, the boys basketball team advanced to the semifinals of both the FAA and NEPSAC tournaments.
A five-game winning streak that spanned parts of January and February featured dominant performances against rivals King, Brunswick and Hamden Hall.
Under first-year head coach Drew Gladstone, the team's success proved to more than the sum of its parts. Not that those parts needed improving: sophomore forward/center Walter Whyte proved to be a dynamic two-way player, his 20.8 points per game led the team in his first year on the squad. Junior point guard and New Canaan native Jordan Sechan was typically dangerous from long range, helping pace an offense that relied on stifling pressure, quick transitions, and speed.
Although a last-second layup dashed the Storm's hopes of advancing to the NEPSAC finals, next year's squad should again contend as a top team in the league.
Lowery held up her end of the bargain, joining the 1,000 point club in early January before an expectant home crowd. But it was the emergence of freshmen Maya Klein, Caroline Thompson, and an eager cast of contributors that spurred the Storm to an undefeated (11-0) start.
With only one senior on the roster, the young team coalesced around a relentless transition game. The Storm advanced to the FAA finals before falling to defending champion Hamden Hall. At (18-6) overall, the Storm punched a ticket to the NEPSAC tournament before falling to Beaver Country Day School.
Last season's FAA finals appearance against longtime heavyweight Rye Country Day was notable as a nascent team's successful run in their first playoff appearance. With expectations raised for the 2014-2015 campaign, St. Luke's ultimately found itself squared off against Rye in a repeat of the championship game.
The team righted itself after a rocky start behind the scoring touch of seniors Tyler Klein and Clay D'Alessandro as well as young guns Jack Forrest and Paul Woodberry. Forrest kept St. Luke's afloat in a thrilling FAA semifinal affair: his tip-in goal with 30 seconds remaining in the third tied the game; his goal in double overtime sent the Storm back to the finals.
Senior goaltender Brian Kollar stood tall again in the finals against a Rye Country Day squad that went undefeated in the league. The Storm again came from behind, capturing the title, 5-3.
The championship was the first in program history.
Against tough competition in the FAA, boys varsity squash held tough, rebounding from an 0-2 team start to win three consecutive matches.
The team also found individual successes at New England's, where mainstays Dennis Polyakov and senior Clay Kontulis, a New Canaan native, had successful runs. Fellow senior captain Ryan Holzberger concluded a successful year at New England's, as well, finishing fourth in his bracket.
With successful showings from freshman Ajit Akole, Logan Diliberto, and Dayne Brissitte, next year's squad, likely anchored by No.1 seeded Polyakov, will continue to progress.
Inspired performances from Laura Howells and Paige Ballard--both junior captains--and emerging star Natalie Bachman (a sophomore from New Canaan) helped maintain a high level of competition against the best in the FAA.
Despite lacking a senior, the team capped the season at Nationals, where Bachman was named the team's MVP. First-year head coach and director of squash Brian Mathias lauded the team's growth during the season, citing veteran leadership and cohesiveness as determining factors.