The Schalmont boys’ basketball team was the last Section II boys’ squad to record a win during last March’s state playoffs before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season.
Now, finally, the Sabres are back on the court after Schenectady County schools were allowed last week to start up “high” risk winter sports.
“It’s been almost a year, but it felt way longer than that, really, because you just went so long without playing sports,” Schalmont senior Tyler Pepicelli said Monday. “That’s usually what we do year-round in school. For a lot of us, it’s our senior year and we’re just trying to play more games before we go to college.”
Schalmont will open a condensed, five-week season by hosting La Salle Friday night in a near-empty gym. Part of the district’s approval plan was to not allow parents or fans into the gym, but the school will stream games online.
“We’re definitely going to have to bring a lot of our own energy with no fans there,” Pepicelli said. “Last year, the gym was packed on our opening night. It felt electric in the whole gym. But, this year, our teammates will have to root us on.”
The condensed season has not dampened the spirits of four-year varsity player Trent Randall.
“We’ll give it all we have,” Randall said. “This is the last thing we’ve got together, so might as well make the best of it.”
Senior Rodney Parker, who previously played at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, made the most of the delay before the basketball season.
“I’ve been trying to develop a better jump shot around the perimeter, make the game a little easier for myself so I don’t have to drive every time,” Parker said.
He’s confident, too, in his teammates.
“They make the game a lot easier for me because they can all shoot the ball if they get open,” Parker said. “They know how to run their stuff and are a good group of guys.”
Currently Schalmont has a packed Colonial Council schedule, starting with its game against a Class AA foe in La Salle.
“La Salle has their whole team coming back from last year,” coach Greg Loicano said. “We split with them last year and that’s a good matchup for us; it’s a tough matchup.
“We’re playing a lot of As and AAs, but that’s fine. We’ll get after it and I just want them to compete.”
La Salle will have former Troy coach Greg Davis at the helm this season. He moved to La Salle, while Rich Hurley returned to the Flying Horses after stepping down from the position three years earlier.
ALBANY REACHES 3.9% MARK
Albany County’s seven-day rolling coronavirus positivity rate fall to 3.9%, joining Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie and Warren counties with a 4% mark or lower, allowing “high” risk sports to start full-contact practices with local school board approval.
Rensselaer and Montgomery counties approved “high” risk sports without the positivity rate criteria, limiting competition to within their respective counties until they fell below the 4% mark. Rensselaer was 2.4% and Montgomery was 6.1% Monday.
Fulton County has not yet reached the allowable mark, reporting 7.0% Monday.