YONKERS, N.Y. – Palisade Prep boys basketball head coach Sean Stahn spent the last several years guiding his current group of players through the high school basketball ranks.
Now, Stahn and the Phoenix enter the 2012-13 season with seniors for the first time in the three-year varsity history of the program.
Stahn has been the Phoenix’s coach for five years, first as the leader of the modified team then the junior varsity squad. He has five seniors on his squad, four of whom have played for Palisade Prep all four years of their high school careers. Stahn has led those players every step of the way and now leads them in their final high school season.
“It’s been a rocky road but it’s been a lot of fun to have the same group of kids and to see them improve each year has been rewarding,” Stahn said. “It’s definitely been a lot of frustration but at the same time to see them improve is great.”
Guard/forward Fred Truss Jr. is typically the only senior who starts, along with three juniors and a freshman. Juniors Kevin Sabino, Isaiah Ward and Brandon Tate help form the nucleus of the starting unit.
The Phoenix usually roll out a five-guard offense as the team lacks height. Truss stands at just 6’1” and is one of the tallest players on the team.
But Stahn has plenty to look forward to despite the team’s size disadvantage.
“We have a very deep team. We have 10 or 11 who can play, so I have high expectations. As a team we have high expectations,” Stahn said. “When we were a first year varsity program we were ninth and tenth graders so it was like we were a JV team playing varsity.”
The Phoenix won just three games as a junior varsity team, five games in its first varsity season and eight games last season. But the team opened the 2012-13 season with two wins and the championship at the Keio Academy tournament last weekend.
“I’m sure for those guys it was a big accomplishment,” Stahn said.
Stahn and his players have never experienced a season like the one they will face this year. But the coach has a goal in mind and his senior class has one chance to reach it.
“We want to win our league and get back to the County Center,” Stahn said.