By Joseph Staszewski
Monsignor McClancy Coach Don Kent knows his team has a few things working against it right now.
It has just one senior in guard Nhoel Deverson on a junior-heavy squad and he was playing without his speedy backcourt mate Willie Britton because of an ankle injury. That hasn’t kept McClancy from having success early on, but they have not been able to translate its strong play into league victories.
McClancy executed its game plan and hung with Monsignor Scanlan, one of the division favorites, for a half. It couldn’t match the Bronx school and its star forward Jonathan Nwankwo after the break and fell 69-50 in CHSAA Class A boys’ basketball last Sunday.
“We are competing,” Kent said. “We are stepping up.”
McClancy (7-4, 1-3), which trailed just 33-28 at the half, contained the 6-foot-10 Nwankwo for two quarters. It then watched as Nwankwo attacked the basket harder and challenged more shots on defense after the break. It had trouble handling the Scanlan press and watched a 13-0 run create a 47-30 deficit with 4:33 left in the third quarter. Nwankwo scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
“I think we ran out of gas,” Deverson said. “It’s tough playing him. In the third quarter he got at us.”
Britton, who has missed the last four games, may not be back until late January. Having him in the lineup adds a different dimension to the McClancy attack, including the potential for a 20-point performance. Britton is a speedster, who can push the pace in transition, help McClancy handle defensive pressure and defends an opponent’s top ball handlers.
“We are very quick, but without him our speed diminishes a little bit,” Kent said.
Deverson has done his part to pick up the slack. He scored 40 points in a win over Adams St. Academy at Aviator over Christmas break and tallied 14 points against Scanlan (8-3, 4-0). Forward William Advent had 14 points and Michael Herring added 11 points.
There is more pressure on me now,” Deverson said. “I have to step up more. There are no breaks. I have to play every play defense and offense.”
He believes his team can beat Scanlan if they are at full strength when they play next. The return of Britton can form a backcourt that is tough to deal with.
“With Nhoel and Willie I think they are two of the best guards in the league,” Kent said. “They complement each other.”