One isn't the loneliest number, it's the happiest. "It's fun!" said Northport 6-9 center Luke Petrasek, a primary reason the Tigers are 9-0. It's surprising, too, as Northport, hardly a hoops power in recent years, is the only undefeated boys team on Long Island.
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"Did I think we'd be 9-0? No it has surprised me," said first-year coach Andrew D'Eloia, a '91 Northport graduate who played on one Tigers team that went 22-0 before losing in the county quarterfinals and another that reached the Suffolk semifinals. A couple of his assistants are Northport grads who also played on playoff teams. "But we've worked hard and the kids are buying in. We like to remind them that there is some history here and we want them to realize it can be done."
D'Eloia is quick to thank his predecessor, Sean Boylan, who gave up coaching to become a district administrator. "He left me quite a gift. The program was in good shape."
The Tigers' growl begins with Petrasek, a senior who scores from inside and out and is a defensive intimidator. He had eight blocked shots in a victory over Whitman on Friday night that drew a capacity crowd of 1,200 for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer event. "Everybody in school knows about the boys team now," Petrasek said, mindful that the girls team has been a longtime powerhouse. "There is a buzz in the school and in the community. It's great to see," D'Eloia observed.
Mike Milligan, an athletic transfer from St. Dominic, point guard Matt Smith, who has three-point range, and off-guard Thomas Kennedy, who averages nearly 10 rebounds, are among those adding to the buzz.
Petrasek is starting to attract interest from college recruiters. "He'll get more looks the more we progress," D'Eloia said. No longer will that be a surprise.