Basketball team bounces back after pandemic letdown


Sopia Carrasquilla '22

The Crusaders gather prior to tip off to lock in before the game.

Cameron Bevan-Abel

The Crusaders came out of the dark tunnel, coming off of their best season in over a decade–a season that ended in heartbreak. Not in a loss, but of a missed opportunity. 

The Archbishop Riordan boys varsity basketball team was already in the midst of a deep playoff run in the top Division in the top state of the country for the sport before the tournament was cancelled because of the COVID-19 virus. The question was, were they going to bounce back the next season and ultimately prevail in the end? Were they only satisfied with having won the WCAL or even worse: decline due to losing their senior division-1-bound senior backcourt duo?

The start of the next season came out with a lot of intrigue. The season, of course, has less than half the games of the previous one, but there is room for a potential playoff run once again. 

Lee Hubbard ’21 rushes by two defenders in an attempt to score. (Sophia Carrasquilla ’22)

Head Coach Joey Curtin ’01 spoke of the challenges of this unique season, “It’s been an uphill battle since we didn’t have our normal time to gel. We are usually working out for three months straight prior to the season and…because guys need rest in between games…we haven’t been able to practice like we normally would as well.”

The roster definitely looks reshaped from the previous season. This younger unit is led by already rising stars point guard King-Njhsanni White ’23 and small forward Zion Sensley ’24 as well as formidable returning starters SG Lee Hubbard ’21, PF Robert Vaihola ’21, and 7 foot 1 inch C Mor Seck ’22. 

“We have a lot of fresh faces and [with] only three seniors this year and most of the team being juniors and freshman, if we’re looking to win the title this year everybody’s going to have to step up big time,” said small forward and role player Mark Barer ’22.

The team started 7-2 against a rigorous schedule, the only two losses coming when two of Riordan’s starters were listed as out. It will be very interesting to see how the Crusaders perform once again in the playoffs, if given a chance, and try to make up for the disappointment in how last season ended.