St. Luke’s boys varsity basketball has excelled the last two years, culminating in back-to-back FAA and New England titles and an overall record of 49-2 during that period.
That is certainly a hard act to follow, but new coach Tony Newsom and his staff are looking to continue the success while putting their own stamp on the program.
“Drew Gladstone and his staff did an outstanding job, so I’m just looking to continue to build on the success the program has had,” Newsom said. “Things have obviously been going well so I don’t want to change too much as I believe if something isn’t broken, then you don’t need to fix it.”
As well as the departure of Gladstone, who moved on to become an assistant basketball coach at Indiana University, the team graduated some key players in Walter Whyte (Boston University) and Joel Boyce (Coppin State University).
Despite these changes, Newsom is confident his squad can challenge again this season.
“I have been extremely impressed with the upperclassmen and the way they have gone about their business,” Newsom said. “They have been part of a lot of winning here but they have been very open to being coached by the new staff. The goal is always to get better as the season goes on but at the end of the year we want to win a league championship and go to the New England tournament and end up with a championship there too.”
This year’s team will be captained by seniors Jonas Harper and Jackson Ryan. Newsom is expecting these players to drive the team forward on the court.
“We want our players on the floor to have a voice and I think those two young men, in particular, have done a great job,” the first-year coach said. “We have other seniors too and I demand the same thing from them. They have all impressed me so far.”
In terms of the team’s style of play, Newsom doesn’t see much changing and he believes he has a number of weapons at his disposal to help offensively.
“We have a team that shares the ball extremely well, so I think when making that extra pass we are a very good team,” he said. “I like the team to play fast and be unselfish. We have a lot of players who, on any given night, could be the leading scorer and the way we share the ball, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a different guy every other night.”
With success comes expectation but Newsom is focused on the team doing the little things to improve throughout the season.
“We haven’t really talked too much about titles as we are focused on the here and now. We are talking about getting better every day and I think if this team continues to improve every day we will be in the picture later in the season.”
The St. Luke's Boys Varsity Basketball team enjoyed victories in its two scrimmages against Trinity Pawling School (64-60) and Sacred Heart High School (74-67). It then traveled to the Zero Gravity tournament at St. Andrew's School, RI, and beat The Millbrook School (78-49) before losing to The Brooks School (57-71).
The St. Luke’s girls varsity basketball team is looking forward to defending its FAA title this season as well as making a push for the New England Championship.
The team finished with an overall record of 21-1 before being crowned FAA champions in 2016-17. The team suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Proctor Academy in the New England tournament semifinal.
Head coach Matt Ward returns for his second year at the helm and anticipates another productive season on the court.
“Everyone has been working hard doing a good job and giving maximum effort,” Ward said. “We haven’t had a ton of time with the full squad yet but we have been able to get a lot of conditioning in, which has been great.”
St. Luke’s will be without their all-time leading scorer this season. Sydney Lowery, who scored over 2,000 career points, is now suiting up for Boston College.
Ward knows it will be a challenge to adapt to playing without her.
“We are trying to figure it out still because Syd was here for five years and none of these girls have played here without her,” he said. “She did a lot of great things, but I think the thing we are going to miss the most is the consistent effort, energy and focus that she brought every single day. We have girls who are eager to step up though and we have been feeling things out playing without her both offensively and defensively.”
The team has everyone else returning and Ward knows he still has a wealth of talent at his disposal. Seniors Maya Klein, McKenna Frank and Bridget Dalton will captain GVBB and the head coach is expecting a lot from the trio.
“I think Maya and McKenna will certainly be key in terms of scoring, as they were last year, but we are really looking for that third or fourth player who can step up and score 10-15 points a game. Bridget can certainly be that player.”
The Storm will also look to Tamia Fulton ‘19, Sydney Cummings ‘19, Riley Page ‘19, Jada Boggs ‘19, Janelle Johnson ‘20 and Caroline Lau ‘22 to contribute to what looks like a potent offense.
“I would love to see four or five kids every game in double figures scoring-wise.” Ward said: “That’s kind of a goal for me because I think it makes us very difficult to defend against. We are going to look to some girls who might not be used to scoring at that pace to a do a little bit more this year.”
St. Luke’s has a much tougher schedule this year and will play many of the teams Ward believes will be in the mix for the New England tournament. He is looking forward to the challenge and expects his team to compete against the best.
“Our class is really deep and really strong. We play a lot of those teams so we will have a good chance to prove that we should be back in the tournament. Making it to NEPSACs will be a challenge this year with 10-11 really good teams but I expect us to be there.”
In terms of coping without Lowery, Ward says the team will continue to play a very similar style of basketball and play to their strengths.
“If anything, we will go a little faster and that is what we have been preaching. We have some talented shooters so the more shots we get off the better. The better our defense is the more possessions we have to give those shooters the opportunities—so we will definitely be looking to focus on that the next few weeks.”
Girls Varsity Basketball won its first scrimmage of the season against Trinity Catholic High School on Nov. 28 by a final score of 82-55.
The St. Luke’s Varsity Hockey team is looking to get back to the FAA championship game this season after finishing runners-up to Rye Country Day School in a hard-fought final last year.
The puck squad finished the 2016-17 campaign with an overall record of 10-5-1 with three of the losses coming at the hands of the Wildcats.
Head Coach Zach Brusko is hoping to break the curse that has seen the Storm lose six-straight to their FAA rivals since beating them in 2015 to clinch the FAA tournament title.
“The goal every year is to win the championship,” Brusko said. “With only four teams in the tournament we expect to challenge for the title again. We are all very close in ability but Rye has to be our biggest rival because they beat us in the final last year.”
This year’s team will be captained by senior Ryan Neafsey and Will Frossell and Brusko is looking for the duo to keep the team together as a unit throughout the season.
“We have such a good group and I expect Ryan and Will to help the new players stay engaged and feeling part of the team. We have created such a strong, inclusive culture over the last couple of years and, although our team has gotten smaller, we have had a core group that has moved through the program together. We want to make sure that continues.”
Brusko has been impressed with what he has seen from his squad and feels good about the team’s chances heading into the regular season.
“Preseason has been good so far. We have a small squad, in terms of numbers, but based on the last two years we are at a very similar level. We are looking forward to getting going. I think our top line is going to be one of the best groups in the league and we have some very talented freshmen in Anders Ernberg and Hayden Critchell.”
The Storm graduated six players and also lost goaltender Evan Ruschil, but Brusko is more than happy with his replacement, junior Andres Falcon.
“Andres has been our backup the last two years and, although he hasn’t played many games, is very capable. Evan would be a loss to any team but we have full confidence in Andres. He has matured a lot and doesn’t seem to be anxious about stepping in. If he stays healthy, we are in great shape.”
The team enjoyed an excellent scrimmage on Nov. 29 against The Canterbury School and, according to Brusko, we can expect to see some changes on the ice this winter:
“We are working on some new things this season so our goal is to get better every week and every game,” he concluded: “We don’t want to fall into bad habits so we will continue to work through the new things, even if it seems unnatural, to eventually get to where we need to be in February.”