By Will LeBlond
Coming into the winter season, all the hype in the area was with the Newfield Boys Basketball team and their powerful senior trio of Quintel Clements, Greg Moravec, and Stephen LaBarge, but they haven’t been the only Trojans making waves.
Entering game action on Jan. 31, the 13-1 Trojans were led in scoring by Clements and Moravec, who combined to average just under 27 points per game, but the top-five slots on the team were filled out by some fresh faces. Sophomore Josh Wood was the only other player to have an average in double figures with 11.6 points per game, and then after him, freshman Jacob Humble and sophomore LaRon Boykin rounded out Newfield’s top scoring threats on paper.
The youth infusion not only bodes well for this year’s team that is looking to make another deep run in the New York State Tournament, but it also shows that the future is bright for coach Chris Bubble’s team as well. After the young group sat on the bench or watched from a distance as the 2016-17 Trojans made their magical run to the Class D State Championship Game, they wanted to be impact players themselves this winter.
“Going into the year, coach Bubble and I had conversations about what my role on the team would be,” said Wood. “I worked a lot over the summer to try and develop my game, so I could contribute and be a part of the team this year.”
Wood has also been a big piece of the defensive effort, as the sophomore has averaged just under five rebounds per game for a team that is averaging just over 50 points allowed per game. While Wood has been cleaning up the glass, his close friend Humble has filled into quite a different role.
Even as a freshman, Humble has been trusted enough to serve as one of the team’s point guards, which means some crucial minutes and important situations to handle the ball, but he’s adjusted.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking sometimes in big moments,” said Humble. “I know Greg Moravec (also a point guard) is always there whenever I need him, but it’s great experience for me to be out there and take control of the ball.”
The big moment has been kind to the young duo so far. They’ve played plenty of minutes on a top-10 state-ranked team, but their friendship and love of the game has made their varsity transition that much easier.
“Probably since the first time I could speak, I’ve been holding a basketball,” said Wood. “We’ve played together for so many years and so many kids.”
“I’ve been playing with them my whole life,” said Humble on his Newfield teammates. “This year, they’ve definitely helped me out on the court by being good leaders and giving me something to look up to.”
With plenty of time on their floor in their first year of varsity action, the duo has also been growing in confidence in driving to the basket and the results have shown in big ways on a few nights. Wood had a 30-point game on Jan. 9, in a 76-67 win over Thomas A. Edison. Not to be outdone too much by his longtime teammate, Humble responded 10 days later with a 27-point effort in an 85-42 win over Newark Valley.
“I give a lot of credit to the team,” said Wood on his growing ability to score the ball. “They help me get open shots, or trust me to get an open bucket or get a good shot up at least. They’ve definitely brought me along and helped me develop my game throughout the season.”
Now is the most important time of the season for the Trojans, as the postseason is knocking, but the team is not getting ahead of themselves just quite yet.
“I think we want to focus on a night-by-night basis,” said Wood. “It’s easy to get caught up in what you could do or compare us to last year, but we’re trying to fix ourselves, work hard and see where that can get us to in the future.”
The team will wrap up their regular season schedule on Feb. 6 when they will welcome in the Senecas and honor the team’s seniors before they embark on what they hope to be another lengthy postseason run.