North Shore football isn’t the only program amidst a renaissance.
The Vikings boys’ and girls’ basketball teams are each coming off regular-season championships in Conference A5. However, postseason success has so far eluded both squads. That is the next goal as each squad looks to defend its conference crown.
"We're hoping to repeat,'' boys head coach Ryan Berglin said.
With their defense leading the county in least points allowed (42.5 ppg), the Vikings boys won their first conference championship in 30 years, posting a 13-6 record.
But then North Shore stunningly lost in the first round of the Nassau Class A playoffs to Lawrence, 45-43, when its offense went stale. “Still haven’t gotten that out of my head,’’ said Berglin, now in his second season. “You hold a team to 45 points you got to go out and win the game.’’
They lost All-County forward David Berlin but bring back many key players, including three from the football squad in swingman Ryan Freund, shooting guard Nick LaRosa and forward Peter Laino.
But due to North Shore making it to its second straight long Island championship game, they were late arrivals and a bit banged up.
LaRosa, the star running back, is nursing a sore hamstring and hasn’t made his debut. Freund is playing through a sore ankle and is, according to Berglin, “80 percent.’’ Both were All-Conference players. Laino will come off the bench.
The central returnee is junior Vasillis Triantafllou, an All-County 3-point shooting big man averaging 14 points during a 2-1 start. The maroon will have a sophomore starting at point guard in Lucas Schimsky but he played sixth man last season and is a good passer.
“The nice thing is we’re very deep this year, can go to 10,’’ Berglin said. "And our versatility on offense – a lot of guys who can handle the ball - is something we’re happy with.’’
The girls, coached by Keith Freund, went unbeaten in winning the conference title at 12-0 and finished 17-5 overall. North Shore won its first-rounder but lost in the second round to eventual county champion Plainedge.
The Vikings should be as good with nine returning players and three returning starters.
“Our goal is to win the conference and we're good enough for a county title, 100 percent,'' Freund said.
The Maroon 5 should be able to make up for the loss of star point guard Morgan Griffin, who is playing lacrosse at Scranton.
Kylee Colbert will fill her shoes. Colbert is super-fast and is on scholarship to play lacrosse at Boston College. Freund calls her “arguably the most athletic kid on Long Island.’’
“She’s tough, strong, a great teammate, passes and defends,’’ Freund said. "Everything you could ask for.''
The other two returning starters are senior stalwart Ava Bartoli, a skilled guard whose been receiving varsity minutes since 9th grade. Their deep sniper is junior Emma Priolo, who sank 30 3-pointers last season.
Moving into the starting lineup is shooting guard Sofia Della Ratta and the center position will be manned by 6-1 center Keira Pombar, whose rebounding is key since she’ll play with four guards. Hailey Ayres is productive off the bench on a team known for its unselfishness.
"We’re very balanced and so unselfish,” coach Freund said. “No one cares who scores or gets the credit. The ball movement - it's whipping around. We had one play in our first game and showed them on film, in six seconds, five players touched the ball and we got a layup.''