Wantagh is matching third-year head coach Joe Harclerode’s high expectations early this season and on the verge of achieving just a second playoff appearance in six years.
The Warriors are off to a 5-0 start in Conference A-V nearing the midway point of the league play and are just two wins away from clinching the program’s first playoff berth since 2017. Harclerode said having a healthy team fostering chemistry together has been the key ingredient toward a turnaround from last year’s 4-15 injury-plagued season.
“They are playing well together and jelling,” Harclerode said. “We have good camaraderie going.”
Junior forward Brandon Goldberg, who missed half of year’s league schedule due to injuries, is on a tear this winter averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-7 Goldberg is a threat from the perimeter to go along with domination in the paint.
“He is a force inside and out,” Harclerode said of Goldberg, a returning All-County player, who tallied 25 points and 23 rebounds in Wantagh’s 62-53 win at Plainedge last Friday. “He is an unselfish kid and he has no problem dishing out when he is double teamed.”
Senior guard Nick Teresky has picked up his play from last year when he emerged as an offensive leader during the games Goldberg missed. The two-time All-Conference honoree is averaging 18 points and seven rebounds a game.
“He is coming into his own,” Harclerode said of Teresky, who posted a double-double with 14 points in 10 rebounds in the Plainedge victory. “He is finding ways to get to the basket.”
Junior point guard Jaden Ventura has made strides running the offense as a distributor as well as slashing to the basket. The Warriors have additional athleticism in the backcourt from senior Tom Vonbargen, who tallied 13-points in a come-from-behind 64-54 win at Roslyn on Dec. 6. Senior forward Ethan Insinga has been clutch in spots during his season as a varsity starter including a key late basket in Wantagh’s 56-52 win at Bethpage on Dec. 20.
Senior guard Mike Lombardi has provided a spark off the bench as the team’s top defender after missing his junior season following a football injury. Mike Handell and David Tretter have been key forces inside with some important rebounds during Wantagh’s recent winning stretch.
After a Jan. 15 game at Floral Park, Wantagh hits the road again for tilts with Valley Stream North this Saturday at noon and North Shore on Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. The Warriors return home on Jan. 28 for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff against Bethpage.
Wantagh entered the week riding a five-game winning streak since dropping a 63-60 non-league game to Mepham on Dec. 14. Harclerode hopes to maintain that winning mentality in the second half of the season so that the Warriors can earn one of the top seeds for the upcoming Class A playoffs.
“We’re in a great spot right now,” he said. “We’re hoping for a conference title and make some noise in the playoffs.”