After losing nine players to graduation, the Hampton Bays boys basketball team, which fell to Babylon in the first round of last year’s Suffolk County Class B playoffs, is in rebuilding mode this season.
Luke Mercurio was arguably the Baymen’s best player last season, but was one of those who graduated and he is now playing ball at Queens College. Perry Friscia also graduated as did Steve Peralta, Will Calamita, Alex Boyer, Estarley Aguero, Dylan George, Dan Martel and Kevin Hendrickson. That leaves Hampton Bays with just four holdovers from last season.
The only two returning starters are seniors Justin Carbone and Harry Fotopoulos. Carbone earned All-League honors while running the point guard position last season and should play that position again this year. Fotopoulos will again be a starting forward.
The rest of the starting lineup is up for grabs, according to head coach Pete Meehan. Senior Sampson George, who was a reserve last year, has made all of the necessary progressions during the offseason and should garner a starting job this season. The rest of the starters will be filled out by incoming junior varsity players.
Junior Joe Calamita was a late call-up from JV last season and he’ll be joined this year by fellow juniors Dan Marte, John Casabianca and Phil DiPierdomenico and sophomore Dan Aube. Meehan has also called up freshman Matt Rinaldi, who should see some time on the floor. Brothers Matt and Kevin Agoglia, a senior and a junior, respectively, fill out the rest of the team.
“We’re young and inexperienced, but I think that leaves more of an opportunity for growth than a senior-laden team like we had last year,” Meehan said.
It’s been a slow start to the season thus far, Meehan said. With a number of injuries and players going on holiday vacations, it has been a struggle for the coach just to get 10 players to practice.
In order to find success, Meehan said his team needs to make a strong effort on the defensive end, explaining that the offense will come.
“We’re a work in progress, with a long way to go,” he said. “We’re asking guys to fill roles that they haven’t been asked to fill at this level.”
Center Moriches, which reached the Class B regional finals last season, is the early favorite to win League VII and possibly Class B. But Southampton and Babylon will be in the mix as well and Wyandanch is never an easy team to beat. Port Jefferson will benefit from the return of a former coach while Mercy and Mattituck round out the rest of the league.
Hampton Bays will start its schedule with two non-league games. The Baymen will host Ross (League VIII) on Tuesday, December 4, at 4 p.m. and then host Shoreham/Wading River (League VI) on Friday, December 7, at 4 p.m. The League VII season gets under way on Friday, December 14, when the Baymen host Babylon at 7 p.m.