Maspeth High School’s boys varsity basketball team is starting its inaugural season strong, thanks to a new head coach and a lot of hustle.
The squad is 2-1 in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) beating Brooklyn’s Arts and Media PreparatoryAcademy, 76-34, on Jan. 6, and the Bronx’s Archimedes/Maleska Campus, 75-46, on Jan. 10. They lost to Health Opportunities High School Campus, 65-30, Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Physical education teacher Anastasia Bitis have been coaching the squad since its season started in mid-November.
She said she the team has a strong offense and her coaching will focus on defense and stamina for this foundational year.
“They’re the first varsity team and they have a lot of potential,” she said. “It’s time for them to set a tone.”
Captain Damian Piszczatowski said the team does more running than previous years, and he’s seeing an improvement in his teammates’hustle.
“We have some big guys, but we aren’t that big, so we have to be able move quickly,” he said. “Coach is doing a good job of keeping us in shape. You can see it-we don’t get tired.”
Guard Bryan Victorio said the first day of try-outs was strictly running.
“Like coach said: ‘If you can’t run, you can’t play ball,'” he said.
He added that Bitis is helping him develop as a role-player, something she said successful teams thrive on.
“She helped me understand what to do-what’s my job down low,” Victorio said. “There’s not one day that I wake up and I don’t want to go to practice, and we practice at 5 a.m.”
The squad is in the PSAL’s developmental division because it’s a new team, but it has already beat DivisionAand B teams in scrimmages.
“We don’t play like a developmental team,” Bitis said.
Bitis said she expects the school to enter Division B next year-then it will start working to move to higherranked A and AA divisions as the program develops.
But, before Maspeth High can move up, it needs to make a name for itself. Bitis said defense is the key, and Piszczatowski echoed the sentiment.
“We’re a very good three-point shooting team,” he said. “Our main thing is that we really need to be able to box out so that we can get rebounds on these bigger guys.”
Meanwhile, the players are starting to gel on and off the court- many of them said they consider their teammates family.
“It just keeps getting better game by game,” said guard Paolo Tamer. “As our confidence goes up, the team chemistry goes up. The more we play, themorewework together as a family.”
Tamer, a Ridgewood resident, said he and some of his teammates meet in local parks to work on fundamentals and, of course, a little flair.
Bitis is using down-time to the team’s advantage. Over winter break, she met with players individually to go over their strengths and weaknesses and outline her expectations. Over the summer, Bitis hopes enter the team in travel tournaments something Piszczatowski said would give the team more exposure.
But that is a ways off. For now, Piszczatowski said the teams focus will be stamina and fundamentals.
“It’s like coach told us: ‘Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent,” he said.
Maspeth High’s varsity boys visit John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X in Brooklyn) at 5 p.m., Jan. 17. Their final home game will be 5 p.m., Feb. 3, in the school’s gymnasium.
Name: Anastasia Bitis
Hometown: Astoria, Qns.
Resides: Ridgewood, Qns.
Job: Phys. Ed. Teacher
Coaching Exp.: 8 Years
Long Island City High School Hunter College-B.A.: History Queens College-M.A.: Phys. Ed.