Boys basketball: Revamped Eagles hope to repeat success

Graduation and rebuilding is part of school sports. Every year, most teams are at least somewhat reshaped. Trumbull High’s boys basketball team is much different looking than it was a year ago.

The Eagles, who went 16-8 overall, graduated seven players — including 1,000-point scorer Rashard Rodriquez and outside shooter Eddie McElroy, who drained 76 three-pointers, hitting 46 percent of his attempts from downtown.

“We had a good run — good class,” head coach Buddy Bray said. “We graduated a really good group.”

Trumbull reached the FCIAC Tournament semifinals before falling to Westhill of Stamford, and saw its strong season end at the hands of Hillhouse of New Haven in round two of the Class LL playoffs.

Senior captains this year are Ben McCullough, Jack Moore and Chris Lyons. Other players whom Bray expects contributions from are J.J. Pfohl, Johnny McElroy, Alex Recker, Eddie Giovaninni, Joe Nemcheck, David Caisse, Jake Cappello and Jack Lynch. Moore and Pfohl were leaders of Trumbull High’s junior varsity team which went 20-0 a year ago.

“I’m leaning on my seniors. I’m leaning on them to keep things together,” Bray said of his captains, along with Caisse, Giovaninni, Nemcheck and Recker. “We’ve always predicated ourselves on running our system,” said Bray, adding that team members need to know their roles.

Despite the hit from graduation, the Eagles still have the goals of qualifying for the conference and state playoffs.

“We’re looking to be competitive every night,” said Bray, noting that his team played in the offseason, and participate in summer and fall leagues to stay sharp. “They’re serious about basketball — they like it.”

Bray believes strengths of his team are solid chemistry and the fact players are working hard in practice. Areas in which Bray hopes to see his team develop and improve are in rebounding, shot selection, and valuing possessions.

“Shot selection is big for us — and working hard on the defensive end,” he said.

After opening the regular season with a pair of home contests — Dec. 22 and 23 against New Canaan and Darien, both at 7 p.m. — the Eagles will play a pair of nonconference teams when they participate in Stratford High’s Merit Insurance Classic against Kaynor Tech, on Dec. 29, beginning at 6 p.m. They’ll take on either Stratford or Harding High the next night.

“The league’s changed a little bit,” said Bray, referring to Bridgeport schools Bassick and Harding leaving the FCIAC for the Constitution State Conference, opening the door for some out-of-conference action.

After the calendar turns to January, all games will be in conference, beginning with a visit from Staples of Westport, on Jan. 5, starting at 7 p.m. The Eagles visit town rival St. Joseph on Jan 9 for a 7:45 p.m. tipoff.

“I think we can be competitive this year in the league if we play hard play smart and play together,” Bray said.