When Mount St. Michael last played a basketball game that mattered, the Mountaineers lost an overtime thriller to St. Mary’s (Manhasset) in the CHSAA Class A state final at Rose Hill Gym, one week after beating rival Cardinal Hayes to claim the ‘A’ intersectional title for the first time since 2006.
Now Mount is in the revamped CHSAA Class AA and the new-look Mountaineers will take the court for the first time Thursday in a non-league game against Hempstead live on MSGVarsity.com.
Gone for the Mountaineers is all-time leading scorer Pete Aguilar, who is at LIU, and guard Clarence White from a team that had a 20-game winning streak a year ago.
Leading the returnees is Malik Gill, a hard-nosed senior point guard, Anthony Maestre, a solid 3-point shooter and defender and Omari Manhertz, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who is a force in the paint.
Manhertz, a standout on the Mount football team, will miss the Hempstead game because he was selected to play in the CHSFL Senior Bowl.
Among the newcomers for the Mountaineers is Ed Correa, a 6-foot-2 senior forward who transferred from Rice, and lefty guard Andrew Utate, while Shaquille Suero and Stefan Chong, bench players a year ago, should have extended roles.
Coach Tom Fraher, who has a 328-142 record in 18 years at Mount, was hoping for a big contribution from New Rochelle transfer Houston Dugan. But the 6-foot-5 forward, who was a projected starter, tore his Achilles early in the preseason and is likely out for the year.
Ted Adams, meanwhile, has enjoyed tremendous success in nearly three decades at Hempstead. He has won three New York State championships, 12 Long Island titles and 17 Nassau County crowns. Adams, second all-time on Long Island in wins, has a 501-139 career record, picking up milestone win No. 500 in a 49-41 Nassau Class AA first round playoff win against Massapequa on Feb. 18.
Year No. 29 for Adams, though, begins with plenty of question marks, as the Tigers are a young, inexperienced and undersized squad this year.
Leading the way is Tidell Pierre, a 6-foot-3 junior forward who averaged seven points per game last year. Steven Gray, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, is excellent in transition and has a nice mid-range jumper and 5-foot-10 junior Brandon Dash is a point guard learning on the job.
Up front, Adams is relying on 6-foot-3 junior forward Jerrell Rankin, a solid rebounder and defensive presence in the paint.