HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, Dec. 11
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
When Bill Mitaritonna, head coach of the Half Hollow Hills High School West boys basketball team, sits down to make his team’s schedule every year, he ensures that he extends it well into March. On March 14, 2015, the Suffolk County boys Class AA championship game is scheduled to tip off. During the Colts’ last three seasons, the boys failed to make it out of the second playoff round and ended their season in February.
Needless to say, the boys and Mitaritonna aren’t happy about it.
“For me, it’s unacceptable,” he said. “The last two years we’ve ended February break weekend – so I’m not happy with that, and neither are they.”
This year, the Colts have travel plans to go along with their calendar – they want to get upstate again, a place where they haven’t been since 2011, to compete for a New York State championship.
With a high-energy, well-balanced and athletic squad, the team started that journey on Tuesday when it welcomed rival Half Hollow Hills High School East for the Colts’ first non-league matchup of the season. The game occurred after press time, but the 15-year head coach undoubtedly wished to use that depth to best the Thunderbirds – which beat the Colts a season ago. This time, the Colts prevailed 60-54.
“We absolutely love the mix of players that we have this year,” Mitaritonna said. “We have a nine-man rotation, but really anyone on the team can go in and fill a sport because they’re just good – they’re good players.”
Jake Willinger is one of the guys Mitaritonna will be brining off the bench as a long-range threat that can deliver clutch shooting in tough situations.
Another key contributor, Curtis Weingard, a senior two-year varsity player, is a sharp-shooting combo guard that stands at 6-foot-2 and has a knack for sharing the ball.
“He’s a very unselfish player and because of his unselfishness it rubs off on everyone,” Mitaritonna said. “He sees the court like no one we’ve had in a long time… He’s going to be one of the leaders this year and he looks great.”
Weingard is one of the six seniors on Hills West’s roster this season along with Owen Clark, Cody Clarson, Jonathan Faraci, Josh Koval and Justin Leonard. The Colts have nine players that have already endured at least one year of play at the varsity level. This is one of Hills West’s best perks, Mitaritonna said.
“We have a ton of varsity experience… I think that’s our greatest strength,” he said.
Being athletic doesn’t hurt either – on Saturday, as the Colts welcomed Cold Spring Harbor for a pre-season scrimmage, the boys ran up and down the court with ease, knocked down jump shots and made the tough rebounds.
“This year we have good height, good shooters, great passers… It’s a good combination for success,” Mitaritonna said. “Our defense is going to be high energy and putting pressure on the ball – and a part of that is we can run out of it and we always like to run.”
After the showdown with the Thunderbirds, the Colts welcome Deer Park today at 4 p.m. for another non-league contest before opening up the regular season at North Babylon on Dec. 15.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014; A32)