Malverne has constantly appeared in title games in recent years, but can it continue that trend after losing its top two scorers from last season?
The Mules, who appeared in two Long Island Class B championship games in the previous three full seasons, fared well last winter with five wins in seven games during the abbreviated campaign. Michael Warren was the second-leading scorer on Long Island with a 28.6 average and James Ackies (11.7 ppg) was the other Mule to finish in double digits, but both graduated in the spring.
The next highest was power forward DeAndre’ Blagrove (8.6), who has the potential to dominate on both ends of the court in his senior season, followed by Keondre Greene (6.7), Farvens Ulysse (6.2) and Trey Robinson (5.2). Assistant coach Walter Aksionoff said those players’ talents, with the added responsibilities they will have this season, should result in higher scoring averages.
“You take a look at Trey, Ulysses and DeAndre’ right there, they easily can score anywhere from 15 and 20,” he said.
Junior guard Joshua Croom was supposed to combine with Warren to form a powerful backcourt last winter, but he injured his foot during his 18-point performance in the opener against Cold Spring Harbor and missed the rest of the season. He is also a strong candidate to lead the Mules in scoring.
“Josh is the key,” he said. “Josh can light it up. I call him the silencer. No one knows he’s there and he leaves the court, he has 12 to 18 points. When he played on the JV, he was a double-digit scorer.”
The coaching staff is also excited about speedy sophomore guard Chad Wesley, who should pile up the assists offensively while “harassing the ball all over the court” on defense, according to Aksionoff.
The Mules are in the largest conference in Nassau and will play 16 conference games.
The girls’ team enters the season mired in a 12-game losing streak that dates back to their last win on Jan. 17, 2020. That includes an 0-6 mark last winter in which the Mules averaged just over 28 points a game.
Head coach Amanda Masson has decided to push the reset button and use this season as a fresh start with a roster filled with mostly underclassmen.
“We have a young team, but they’re definitely developing,” she said. “I can see us doing pretty well this season.”
That optimism originated from training camp. The school doesn’t have a JV team, so the newcomers are learning the speed of the varsity game on the fly.
“They’re hustling and have a willingness to learn,” she observed. “It’s really challenging because there are a lot of freshman and sophomores that are not used to it. But them grasping it quickly is what I’m seeing.”
The team is lead by sixth-year varsity point guard Princia Ulysse, who averaged just over nine points a game last season. She had three double-digit point games during her junior campaign, including a season-high 17 against Oyster Bay on Feb. 16.
“She’s going to be handling the ball the most,” Masson said. “Now, this is her time to show leadership. She’s more vocal and confident in her plays and attacking more.”
Ulysse will be joined in the backcourt by sophomore Mikayla Johnson. The pair established a nice chemistry during the preseason scrimmages and Masson is excited to see how that further develops in the coming months.
Senior guard Jasmine Ackies is back with the team after missing last season and junior Jamila Smith will ease Ulysse’s workload as another guard. Freshman Tyzanae Reed is a tough power forward who projects to be the team’s top rebounder and junior Anissa McKay provides the spark off the bench.