Men’s basketball hopes to finish top three in conference

FANCY FREE-THROWS: Preparing to shoot, Senior Captain Jimmy Martinelli (#33) aims to make his free-throw. The men are mid-conference with a record of 8-10, hoping to finish in the top three.

Jacqueline DeWitt

FANCY FREE-THROWS: Preparing to shoot, Senior Captain Jimmy Martinelli (#33) aims to make his free-throw. The men are mid-conference with a record of 8-10, hoping to finish in the top three.

Georgia Arvanitis, co-sports editor

The men’s basketball team has played several close games this season and look to improve their record of 8-10, according to head coach Benjamin Widner.

According to senior captain Jimmy Martinelli, New Trier has been a tough team to face this season. The Titans are 1-2 against the Trevians, facing a tough loss on  Jan. 22, with a score of 52-67 Niles West and Evanston also defeated the Titans, with scores of 59-52 and 45-54 respectively.

“We played very well in our first games against New Trier, [and] Niles West, and we played pretty [well] in the Evanston game [even though] we lost,” Martinelli said. “We have a lot more seniors on the team this year, and our team chemistry is better as well.”

According to Widner, the team has spent a lot of time keeping themselves healthy by working on and off the court. Widner attributes the lack of long-term injuries to warm-ups and injury prevention based activities and pre-season yoga.

“We actually spend a lot of time trying to make sure that the [guys] are taking care of their bodies,” Widner said. “We warm up the right way; all the lifts that we do are geared [towards] not just strength, but also for injury prevention. You can never guarantee 100 percent saftey [because] there is going to be freak accidents, but we’ve had no overuse injuries [so far].”

The men have modified their playing style by adjusting on the fly, and becoming more zone-defense, rather than man-to-man. Widner believes that this method has been more effective in game-play.

According to Widner, the team has faced many close games resulting in both wins and losses. The men fell to Maine South with a score of 51-55. However, the Titans came out on top against Palatine, with a score of 73-71. Additionally, the men beat Prosser High School on Jan. 23 with a score of 76-52.

“On Saturday, we played a good team from the city, Prosser High School, and our [guys] just responded and played great,” Widner said. “It might have been our best game of the year. That was an important game for us, so I was glad to see that the guys came out hungry to win.”

According to Martinelli, the team’s start to conference was not what they were hoping for, but they hope to recover and improve their game. The men are halfway through their conference and hope to finish in the top three.

“We have had a rough start in conference, but they were all close games, and I think we can turn it around and finish in the top three of the conference,” Martinelli said. “I think we will win a regional championship in the playoffs, and who knows what can happen after that. Our team has a chance to be dangerous if we are focused every game.”

Widner attributes the close game losses to losing fourth quarter leads. The men have lost fourth quarter leads to Maine South, New Trier and Evanston. According to Widner, the team played well against Evanston, who are ranked fifth in the state.

“We’ve played so many close games, and we haven’t come out on the top end of most of them, so we’re frustrated,” Widner said. “Evanston is a highly-ranked team in state. We had it down to four points against them late in the game, so it was another close game.”

Martinelli and Widner agree that the team can pull through in conference and learn along the way. Widner acknowledges that winning all the time isn’t realistic, but focusing improving will help the men come out on top.

“At the end, it’s not just about the win and the loss, it’s just about [if] we did as well as we can do,” Widner said. “It’s really hard sometimes because you want to win all the time, but we try to focus on the process and what we’re doing as opposed to just the outcome.”

The Titan’s next game is on Feb. 5, against Niles West in the dome.