John C. Longton III
With only one sophomore and not a single second year player on the roster, the Men’s Basketball team is having a somewhat surprising season. Despite losing their last two games to Fulton-Montgomery and Mohawk Valley by a combined nine points, head coach Mike Long’s team is growing up before our very eyes. They have an 11-6 record and are priming themselves for a regional run.
“We’ve achieved more than I expected at this point,” said the coach.
The team is averaging 87 points a game, which is currently 14th in the nation, and it’s not just one individual on the team that has led to their success.
“Everyone has been contributing and that has been the value of our team,” said Long.
Long has taken a team that has never played with each other before this season, made them buy into his system of playing as a team, and it is paying dividends.
Two players that have had an instant impact are the Palmer twins. John and Brandon Palmer are freshmen from East Greenbush and have collectively averaged over 20 points a game. John Palmer leads the team with minutes played averaging around 30 a game and his brother Brandon contributes about 22 per contest.
“They’re a big part (of the team),” said Long when asked about the duo. “Both can shoot the ball. Brandon’s a little bigger he rebounds the ball pretty well, but then John is pretty tough. He gets in and puts his nose in and rebounds the ball pretty well. Both have three point range. There are times where they are really exceptional on defense and that’s what I want to see all of the time from them.”
The Vikings are allowing 72 points a game which is 65th in the nation, but is still 15 less than what they are scoring. They started out the season with a 7-1 record and really have over performed for a team that didn’t have that many games under its belt.
Thier first loss came on Nov. 14 to the hands of fifth ranked Herkimer 91-84. In the game the Vikings were down 35-53 at the half, but would go on a run in the second half and even take the lead with five minutes remaining in the game. Jordan Nelson, a freshman from Troy, went five for seven from three point range as the young team made a statement saying that that can play with anyone.
“We gave Herkimer a hell of a game,” said Long.
The Vikings have had a few heartbreak losses this season and could easily had a couple more wins under its belt. In the six games they lost, they were outscored by a combined 36 points. That’s only six points a game. Their biggest loss was an 11 point defeat to Onondoga. In that game the Vikings outscored their opponents in the second half, but it was not enough to dig themselves out of the hole they created at the half.
The Vikings have a tough test this week, and will be a pretty good gauge on where their season is heading. On Wednesday they are on the road at Delhi, then Saturday they play host to Herkimer as they try to avenge their first loss, and Sunday they are back on the road as they travel to Binghamton to play Broome.
Saturday game starts at 3 p.m. at the McDonough Sports Complex or at the conclusion of the women’s game.