Monday, July 14, 2008

SUMMER HOOP: Stahn and Company Keeping Eyes on the Prize (if there was one)

The White Plains summer basketball league is once again the hoops home for the county’s stiffest competition and a plethora of current and former Division-I players—Devon Austin, Ryan Schneider, and Torey Thomas—to name a few.

The league, which holds court on the hard-scrabbled Ferris Ave. neighborhood, to the left of the White Plains train station, provides the most competitive games outside of New York City. The teams which finished in the middle of the pack down to the league’s basement haven’t been welcomed back this year.

The mentality is go hard or go home, as it’s a survival of the fittest brand of basketball. The players hustle first, ask questions later. This is high-horsepower, go-go basketball in its most appreciable form. Few outdoor courts in the Westchester backdrop feature workaday, down-to-the-wire, hoop battles of this type.

Sean Stahn, who has been playing in the league since he was a senior at Ardsley High School (where the 6-foot-6 forward eclipsed the century mark, scoring over 1,000 points in his storied career) believes this could be the year for his squad.

Stahn captains the “Red” team, as the teams are known via color alias (just like the tough-as-nails criminals in the 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs).
While the team has lost a little bit of the luster which helped lead them to the promise land two years ago a formidable foundation returns.

“I think we have arguably the most dominant player in the league in Jason Boone,” explained Stahn referring to the former Division-III Player of the Year.

“I mean, he played professionally (overseas) this year and was dominant. He changes the game so much, offensively, defensively. He changes shots, gets rebounds, he’s just a force that no other teams have.”

Boone, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound behemoth, creates matchup difficulties for other teams. This helps get the other teams in foul trouble. The past two games, Boone’s dominant presence has helped put the other teams' big men in foul trouble.

Stahn and company have won their last two games. On Tuesday, they beat a squad spearheaded by former Hastings and SUNY-Cortland Standout Simon Skrelja. It was a close game that team read ended up gutting out by five points.

On Thursday, Stahn's team red scored another pivotal victory in similar gut-it-out fashion, defeating the light blue team by four.

The team is off to a 3-2 start but according to Stahn, is just starting to mesh.
"It's a tough league," he explained, adding that their schedule is front-loaded with marquee matchups. They are slated for a date with formidable foe White Plains next week.
The Tigers feature homegrown product Torey Thomas, who had a storied career at Division-I Holy Cross and established himself as a premier professional in Sweden and France this past year.

Luckily for Stahn, he has the services of a familiar face: former Ardsley point guard Brandon McGarvey.

McGarvey, known for his blink-quick style and pin-point passing, could help form a significant inside-outside tandem with Stahn and Boone down low.

"He's a great point guard for that league," said Stahn of his high school teammate.

"He'll get the fans going and he'll energize our team. Most people don't look at him and think he's so fast. He just always gets to the rack, throws passes when the defense isn't expecting it. He can cut by players, sometimes they won't help off and he'll have a wide-open lane.

And despite the 3-2 start, Stahn and McGarvey's squad might have the upper-hand in a wide-open league.