WHITE PLAINS – In the wake of a humbling 63-35 loss in the Class D regional semifinals Tuesday, Anthony Gaines already had his spring plans set. He and his returning players — 14 in all — would rest a week. Then it was AAU season, followed by four summer leagues.
Before long, the march back to the County Center would begin in earnest.
“I told the guys in there, it doesn’t stop,” Gaines said. “We still build, we come back and there’s another season, and there’s another season after that. We’ll just get better. It’s a whole maturation for us.”
Gaines and Clark Academy were left to look forward after finding themselves overmatched throughout most of Tuesday’s state playoff loss to Section 11’s Shelter Island. After the Eagles cut their deficit to three points early in the second quarter, they misfired from the outside and were outworked by the more experienced Indians, who ripped off a 16-4 run to end the half.
“I don’t think we matched their intensity. And I think we settled for too many jump shots,” Gaines said. “We’re not a jump-shooting team. We’re more of team that attacks the basket, but we didn’t do that.”
Six-foot-3 sophomore Tristan Wissemann did, scoring 17 of his 21 points by the midway point for Shelter Island (12-11), which cruised into Saturday’s regional final at SUNY New Paltz against Section 9’s Coleman Catholic.
“We were settling because we couldn’t really get anything in the paint,” explained sophomore Andre Carthorn, who had a team-high eight points. “We weren’t being patient. We were settling for stuff that was there.”
Perhaps next year will be different for Clark (7-13), which graduates just two seniors but will have three freshmen and seven sophomores from this team back. Gaines also said he suspended four players during the season, but expects them back as well.
“I know this is the beginning of something,” sophomore Rahmel Lowden said. “Besides two players, we’re all going to be here for a couple more years. Good things are going to happen.”
In a way, the Knights already showed great strides. They won two games and lost by 38 points in the sectional semifinals last season. This season, they beat that same team, Biondi, in the final, and won the program’s first gold ball since 2008.
“This is definitely a beginning,” said Carthorn, the Section 1 tournament MVP. “After this loss, we’re going to be back in the gym working as hard as ever. We hope to get a repeat.”