The St. Mary's Tar-Heels, bottom row: Jarred Williams, Kevin Young, Scott Herdemian, Ryan Young and Max Trunz. Standing: Coach Spencer Young, Mike Napolitano, Michael Brennan, Danny Mullin, Brian Giesecke and Peter Kratsios. Not pictured: Jamie Melvin.
The fourth-grade St. Mary's Tar-Heels Boys Basketball Team finished its 1998-99 season with an impressive 21-6 record. They were the CYO Mineola Gold Division Champions with a perfect 10-0 record and they made it to the "Final Four" of the Fourth-Grade Super League, comprised of all-star teams throughout Long Island and New York City.
Although the Tar-Heels were demonstrably shorter than their opponents, they employed a "run-and-gun" offense and a tenacious pressing defense that enabled them to, on average, more than double their opponent's score. They also possessed a team "chemistry" and genuine support for each other that is rare to find.
Also contributing to the Tar-Heel's success was deep athletic ability throughout the roster. While opponents generally had two or three strong players who would play in an individualistic manner, the Tar-Heel squad played cohesively and players seemed to take turns at stepping up their game to dominate play. Many opposing coaches would say after a game that they had never seen such balanced athleticism across all players, making it extremely difficult to defend against.
Because of their unparalleled teamwork, watching a Tar-heel game was most entertaining and it should be fascinating to see this squad develop in years to come.
St. Mary's Express got a quick start in the 1999 season with road victories at St. Dominic's and St. Martin's. Saturday afternoon in the season opener, matching the two finalists from 1998's championship game, the Express gained revenge by pounding the Bayhawks 11-7. A tight 2-2 game was broken open with some explosive hitting by St. Mary's in the fifth inning. With two outs and no one on, Patrick Kelly lifted a long triple to left field. Ryan Meaney followed with another triple over the centerfielder's head. An error put Anthony Figlia on first base and he scored on another long double by Dominick Maimone. After a walk to Matt Horne, Tim Miller hit a clutch two-out, two-strike single to right to plate two more runs. St. Mary's added four more in the seventh inning in coasting to victory.
Patrick Kelly pitched a complete game to gain the victory, striking out 10 and allowing only six hits and one earned run. Tim Miller collected three hits as did Ryan Meaney for the Express. Kelly and Maimone chipped in with two hits each.
On Sunday, the Express traveled to St. Martin's for the first ever meeting between these two teams. After St. Martin's scored twice in the first inning, the Express pounded out 14 hits in cruising to a 15-8 win. Matt Fox, in his Express debut, gained the victory with four solid innings, striking out six. Tim Miller, Ryan Drago and Anthony Figlia all followed Fox on the hill to preserve the win. Chris Imperiale and Anthony Figlia led the way with three hits apiece. Ryan Drago and Ian Lerner chipped in with two hits apiece for the winners.
The Express will play the home opener this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Manhasset High School.