High expectations for North Shore basketball


The hope is karma from North Shore football will spill over to the boys' basketball squad – and girls' team, too.

The Vikings boys’ hoopsters, led by first-year head coach Ryan Berglin, inherited five players from an historic squad that captured North Shore's first Long Island football championship last month.

Three returning starters lead a club that posted a 7-2 record in the shortened pandemic season last winter. That includes point-forward standout, David Berlin, a college prospect.

Expectations are high more titles could be on the way for the maroon and white.

“We should win the conference,” Berglin said. “I'd be disappointed if we didn't win the conference.”

The football guys missed the first two weeks of basketball practice as they made history. Berlin missed a total of three weeks because he contracted mono after the championship win.

“I thought he'd be weakened, but he's ready to go,” Berglin said.

Au contraire. Berlin played just 8 minutes in his return but since being put back into the starting lineup, he’s averaging 24.5 points. He’s a 6-foot-4 do-everything forward who scores most of his points inside.

 He’s ranked among the top 100 players on Long Island. His coach compares his style to Knicks forward Obi Toppin because of the energy he brings.

“He's got one of the things you can't teach – a motor,” said Berglin, the JV boys coach the past 10 years before replacing Kevin Carpenter. “He's got as high a motor as any kid I've ever coached. He doesn't stop.”

Berlin and Vasilis Triantafyllou compose a solid forward tandem - two 6-4 players who can score. In fact, Triantafyllou is North Shore's best 3-point shooter.

The other football-turned-basketball players include Ryan Freund, Dylan Kunkel, Peter Laino and Nick LaRosa. The point guard, Luke DiBenedetto, starred for soccer. 

Their long football-title journey may have caused fatigue but ultimately Berglin believes the journey will help.

School spirit is at an all-time high because of the championship. Bigger crowds than norm are expected. A large throng attended its home-opening victory over New Hyde Park on Dec. 16. “We've got great mental toughness,” Berglin said. “Any adversity we've handled extremely well.”

The girls' team should match the boys in challenging for the A-5 title – spurred by star 5-8 guard Morgan Griffin.

Keith Freund is in his 16th year coaching the team. The Vikings are coming off a 6-3 record in the pandemic-shortened campaign.

Freund has strung together a potent non-league schedule to get the girls prepared for conference play that included Catholic League power, Mercy and the Locust Valley juggernaut. North Shore was 0-4 in four competitive games before winning two straight including the conference opener.

“I wouldn't schedule the non-league schedule I did if I didn't think we could handle it,” Freund said. “The A-5 is wide open. I can see us making a run in the playoffs. I've told them the record in December means nothing. These non-league games were designed with February in mind.”

The Vikings will be a dangerous playoff foe if Griffin continues her domination. An All-County point guard, Griffin is averaging 19 points. She's buried 17 3-pointers in the first five non-league games alone and is a college prospect. 

“She can handle, sees the court well, shoots the rock,” Freund said. “A complete player.”

The defensive culture is set by small forward, Kylee Colbert. She's down to play lacrosse at Boston College but buzzes maniacally around the hardwood, too. “Tremendous athlete who plays tremendous defense,” Freund said. “Super strong, never gets tired. Just has a really high motor and never stops moving.”

The Vikings’ 3-point ace is sophomore Emma Priolo, known to splash jumpers from ten feet beyond the arc. Last season Priolo was an Honorable Mention All-County shooting guard.

Seniors Amanda Ayres and Kate Gilliam are key role players and important leaders. Gilliam will play lacrosse at Harvard.

“The strength is our depth,” Freund said. “We play a lot of kids, move the ball nicely. We're very deep with energy and endurance.”

It was a banner football year for North Shore. Now Vikings basketball will try to keep the good vibes rolling.