Good Chemistry and Hard Work

ACIT Boys Basketball Aims for a Winning Season

The Red Hawks are back after a very limited 2021 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The boys basketball team finished the season with a 4-12 record, bottom of their group ranking. COVID-19 was at its peak during the 2021 basketball season.
“There were a lot of disadvantages playing under COVID,” says junior guard Jayden “Rico” Lopez. “We couldn’t have fans, gym space was jammed up a lot, we played less games, games were canceled… I feel like it was a waste of a year.”
The team, led by junior Desi Stroud, Jayden Lopez, and Nasir Tucker, is looking forward to a fresh start. The season kicked off earlier last month with their first game on Friday, December 17 against Oakcrest. Coach Byron Nelson and the team have put in a lot of effort to have a successful year and are eager to get into the season.
“I think our chemistry is at an all time high, a lot of the players grew up together from the same area,” Nelson says. “We also put in a lot of work in the offseason and summertime. The athletes sacrificed a lot of hours to be in the gym and dedicate themselves to becoming better as a unit.”

The team hasn’t had a complete winning record season since the program was established in 2012. However, where the team lacks in experience can easily be made up by their proven commitment and unified goal to achieve their first winning record in the history of the school’s basketball program.
“The goals for the team is to get a winning program and take ourselves to possibly CAL, which I believe we can,” says senior Reggee Verna.
The CAL tournament is where the top eight teams of the Cape-Atlantic League participate in a playoff to determine the champion of the league. The team and Coach Nelson believe that, with their skills and talent, they have a shot.
“Our main strength as a team is our speed and quickness,” says Nelson.
The team displayed that speed and quickness in their scrimmages against Ocean City and Kingsway. It proved to be an effective factor because the boys won both the scrimmages. Another key component to the boys’ confidence is having the fans back in the stands.
“That energy you get from the fans like the fans screaming ‘DEFENSE’ ‘DEFENSE’, the chants, it makes you want to play harder and prove yourself,” says Reggee Verna.
With the fans back, the players’ development and team chemistry will no doubt be major factors for the upcoming season.
“We’re gonna shock a lot of teams this year,” says Captain Desi Stroud.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we’ll be ready to go,” says Nelson. “I just want the ACIT community to come out and support the boys and girls teams this year. We worked really hard to have a great year.”
The Red Hawks beat the Oakcrest Falcons 54-35 in the season opener on December 17 and lost 52-72 against St. Augustine Prep on December 20. The team participated in the Wildwood Boardwalk Basketball Classic from December 27 to the 28. They won both games 48-41 against Barnegat and 56-40 against Boys’ Latin Charter. The Red Hawks return to play at Vineland on Thursday, January 6 after the Pleasantville home game got canceled due to weather.