Surging Clarke defeats North Shore


Reaching double digits in the win column by the opening week in January could be just the start of a special winter for Clarke boys’ basketball.
The Rams, who returned four starters and three key reserves from last season’s playoff team, took a big step towards locking up one of Conference A-5’s postseason berths last Saturday with a 57-46 victory over North Shore.
Senior James DeSimone poured in a game-high 27 points and hit 9 of 10 free throws in the closing minutes as Clarke (10-2 overall) won for the fourth time in five conference tries. Seniors Tammyson Emile (13), Zeak Mercado (8) and Jack Hollywood (7) combined for all but two of the other Rams’ points. The Vikings (7-5 overall, 2-2 in A-5) got 15 points from senior Nick La Rosa and 9 apiece from senior Ryan Freund and junior Vasilis Triantafyllou.
“We finished last season strong to make the playoffs and we won a playoff game which was amazing,” said DeSimone, a returning All-County guard who also dished out 7 assists while raising his scoring average to 16.8 points per game. “We played a lot during the offseason and I think that also helped,” he added. “Most of us have played on the same team since middle school, so our chemistry is good.”
Clarke’s ability to dominate the boards against a scrappy opponent was the biggest reason why the Rams jumped out to a 30-17 halftime lead and never looked back. Both Emile and Mercado, who beat the buzzer to end the first quarter with a bucket to make it 16-9, pulled down 10 rebounds.

“Tammyson has made the largest leap of anyone since last season,” Clarke head coach Joe Hasbrouck said of Emile, who averages 12.7 ppg. “He’s always been a good slasher to the basket but he’s added a nice outside shot.”
Hollywood scored all of his points in the second quarter to allow the host to hold a double-digit lead throughout. It didn’t hurt the Rams that Triantafyllou, North Shore’s leading scorer who entered the day averaging 18 per game, was held without a point until late in the third quarter.
“The one thing that stood out today was they were more physical,” Vikings head coach Ryan Berglin said. “It wasn’t an X’s and O’s thing. They pushed us around inside and we didn’t push back.
“Our conference is very tough and deep,” he added. “I like the way we’ve been playing and the best thing about our team is depth. But we’ve got to be ready to go every game or we’re going to be in trouble.”
A DeSimone three-pointer gave Clarke its largest lead at 43-21 with less than two minutes remaining in the third. The Vikings, who host the rematch Feb. 4, clawed back with a 17-5 run keyed by Triantafyllou, Freund and sophomore Lucas Schimsky to get within 10 with 2:07 left in regulation before DeSimone sealed the outcome from the foul line.
“This is the best start we’ve ever had,” Hasbrouck said. “The guys are playing and practicing hard. They’re playing with confidence and having fun.”