Mike Sixsmith has grown tired of being one-upped at home. Even after he helped power Holy Trinity to the CHSAA Diocese of Rockville Centre boys basketball title last season, it goes on. His older brothers, Jack and Bill, continue to remind him that they not only won Long Island’s Catholic league title, they also won the state Catholic championship with the Titans in 2014.
This season, however, Sixsmith believes he can bring this part of the sibling rivalry to an end. TJ Long is the reason.
Long is a Division I talent who pairs a highly-accurate outside shot with the skill and speed to slash to the basket. He transferred to Holy Trinity from Chaminade at the start of last season and sat out all of it as prescribed by Diocesan transfer rules.
“He brings everything – a complete game – honestly,” Sixsmith, a 6-1 guard, said of the 6-4 Long. “He's one of the best players on Long Island. He can shoot it from everywhere. Once he's going past halfcourt, he's in range. And if you deny him the ball then he'll just go by you. He really competes and brings everyone’s game up.”
“Mike Sixsmith was an all-league player for us last season – he can do everything on the court and his strength is he doesn’t have a weakness. TJ has the ability to be every bit as good,” Titans coach Joe Conefry said of the two seniors. “That could be very impactful, having two guys who play at that level on the court at the same time. We are a lot more dangerous offensively because both make plays and have an unselfish streak.”
Long said that while he has the utmost respect for the Chaminade program, he didn’t feel like a fit with the Flyers. He and his family decided a change of scenery might bring out his best. He could have transferred to a public or private school and played immediately, but instead opted for the school his brothers went to and his sister – a star girls basketball player – chose. So last season he could practice and sit on the bench, but he couldn’t contribute when Holy Trinity lost to Diocese of Buffalo champ The Park School, 55-52, in state Catholic semifinals.
“He definitely makes us more than three points better,” said Sixsmith, who scored 22 in the loss.
“I thought it would be hard to sit out the season, but it ended up being all right because I could practice and also train [with a private coach] on the side,” Long said. “I have to say though that it got hard at the end, only being able to watch the playoffs and [state] tournament from the bench.”
Sixsmith averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists last season. He and Long will be joined in the starting lineup by senior Nick Margetson – a prototype distribute-first point guard – along with 6-3 senior guard Trevor Rohlehr and 6-6 junior forward Jared Weakly. Roehlehr is a “glue guy that can score,” Conefry said and Weakly is “developing a passion for rebounding,” the coach added. Javier Contreras, a junior guard, is the sixth man and could earn substantial minutes.
“All of them can shoot it and they all are dedicated to playing defense,” Conefry said.
“We have a lot of good, talented players, but our defense is going to win games,” Sixsmith said. “We have a lot of length, a lot of grit and toughness. We can get stops.”
Where all the Titans are looking forward to defending their title, Long said “I can’t wait” to get back to playing high school basketball after more than a year. He has a couple Division I scholarship offers, but the belief is that the range of interested schools could broaden significantly. He is contemplating a year of prep school after this before making a college choice.
“That will happen in due time,” Long said. “I have something to focus on right now and that the first goal or winning the league championship again.”
“The difference between last year and this year is that last year we felt we were capable and we had seniors who knew how to win,” Sixsmith said. “This year we start full of confidence. We know what we’ve got here.”
It might even be enough to change the usual topics at Sixsmith family gatherings.