NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Brian Kriftcher is convinced better days are ahead for the St. Luke’s boys basketball team. He doesn’t know when his team’s fortunes will turn for the better but knows it will be soon.
“We should be good for years to come,’’ Kriftcher said after the Storm lost their season-opener, 75-60, against a strong Greens Farms Academy team Monday. “Last year we took our lumps. We have some freshmen and sophomores that are going to be good. We have just three seniors. I think we’ll have a pretty good basketball team.”
The reason for Kriftcher’s optimism is a youthful roster full of promise. Freshman Jalen Latta, from Stamford, and sophomore guard Elijah Holyfield, from New Canaan, are budding stars in the backcourt. Sean Cullinane, a junior, scored 17 points in Monday’s loss, while Latta had 12 and Holyfield added 11.
St. Luke’s finished 2-20 last season, but many of the young players got game experience that should be helpful this year.
“I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to keep a positive attitude,’’ Kriftcher said. “I think they’re a mature group, relative to their years. I don’t buy the premise that this game is reflective of how we’ll do this year. This game was against the best team in our league, and we only lost by 15. That’s not just ‘coach-speak.’ I really believe that.”
Aminenye Lakoju, a junior center, is one of the newcomers Kriftcher hopes to build around. Sophomores T.J. Simpson, Kevin Florio and J.B. Boggs all saw action in Monday’s game, along with freshman Jordan Sechan, juniors Walker Ross and Robert Wood and senior Jackson Prince. Seniors Aiden Stone and Jacob Henny and junior Bryan Latorraca are also on the roster.
“I think the thing is for us to peak at the right time,’’ Kriftcher said. “If we peak now, I’d be concerned. We’ll play Greens Farms again at the end of the season and hopefully give them a better game. We learned some things today, some things we do well and some things we have to improve. We’re not so overmatched against them. I think we’ll just continue to get better.”