Stewart assesses special season

Going into the season I had high hopes that this could be a special season.

This optimism was based on the returning players that I felt could be molded into a good team and the success the team had during the summer.

Putting together a basketball team is like putting together a puzzle, all of the different pieces have to fit. Starting with a major piece in the puzzle, Parker Ayers, the Trojans had a very strong presence in the paint. Parker was solid this year, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. He was selected The Southwest Florida 4A Player of the Year by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association.

Then you have to have someone who can take care of the ball, distribute it and play solid defense. That was Christian Tateo. Christian led the team in assists and was a very solid defensive player, often being assigned to guard the other team’s best guard.

A basketball team must have the ability to get to the basket. That was Zach Hornsby and Jeff Charelus. Hornsby was the second leading scorer and also was selected as an All-County player.

Obviously basketball is about putting the ball in the basket and when defenses collapse a team must have someone who knocks down the 3. Brandon Love and Dennis Marcelin emerged as the season progressed to be that piece of the puzzle.

Besides being very good shooters, Brandon and Dennis also played with a real sense of grit, something I like to think separates Lely from some others. We have always thought of ourselves as being the blue collar types. We want to work hard and play with a sense of urgency.

A basketball team is made up of many members, not all can be starters. Corey Franklin and Cody Mendel were as different as night and day, but contributed greatly to the success of the team because of their spirit. I compliment Corey and Cody for all their hard work and enthusiasm they brought to the team. Others who also contributed, but maybe did not show up in the stats every night, were Ace Estilien, Miller Dume, Jhony Faustin and Marlyn Newbold.

This season was complicated by some adversity as well. It started with Jeff Charelus getting injured in football and not becoming eligible for action until after Christmas.

That really hurt my vision for what this team could become. First, all the football players came out four weeks after the season started, then Jeff not until after Christmas.”

Then after Christmas the team seemed to all come down with the flu at the same time.

This was serious, the worst I had ever experienced in my 26 years at Lely.

Thankfully, we got well in time for the end of the season run, and a district championship. Overall, the season was a solid success and made the whole Lely-Marco Island area proud of our team.

For the season, Lely was 19-8, were district champions, made the Elite 8 and lost in the Region 3 final.

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